Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Irish Funeral

So, we had an Irish funeral for Architect's beagle, Louie. He was a sweet old boy and a very grateful pup; an adoptee from the SPCA. Like all good Irish funerals, we ate, sang, laughed, and drank Finnegan's Irish whiskey....we had a good time memorializing a good dog.

We all brought something to the gathering and Foodie brought a "mystery" chocolate cake. Foodie made us guess the secret ingredient and after several dud responses, including zucchini, I guessed "BEETS" which was, surprisingly, correct. It was delectable and I just had to have the recipe which I now happily share with my dear readers.

Chocolate-Beet Cake

8 ounces beets, unpeeled, rinsed and scrubbed free of dirt
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (70% cacao solids), chopped
1/4 cup hot espresso (or water)
7 ounces butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (the darkest you can find, natural or Dutch-process)
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1 cup superfine sugar

1. Butter an 8- or 8 1/2 inch (20 cm) spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Boil the beets in salted water with the lid askew until they’re very tender when you stick a knife in them about 45 minutes. Drain then rinse the beets with cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip off the peels, cut the beets into chunks, and grind them in a food processor until you get a coarse, yet cohesive, puree. (If you don’t have a food processor, use a cheese grater.)

3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

In a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring as little as possible.

4. Once it’s nearly all melted, turn off the heat (but leave the bowl over the warm water), pour in the hot espresso and stir it once. Then add the butter. Press the butter pieces into the chocolate and allow them to soften without stirring.

5. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a separate bowl.

6. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter is melted. Let sit for a few minutes to cool, then stir the egg yolks together and briskly stir them into the melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the beets.

7. In a stand mixer, or by hand, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold the sugar into the whipped egg whites with a spatula, then fold them into the melted chocolate mixture, being careful not to overmix.

8. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.

9. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF (160ºC), and bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until the sides are just set but the center is still is just a bit wobbly. Do not overbake.

Let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan.

Spread with crème fraîche before serving.

The author says that this cake tastes better the next day and he is right....I had a piece the next evening and the flavors incorporated so beautifully. Perhaps one of the best treats I ever had!

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