Sunday, April 8, 2012

Eastertide Gluten Free Chocolate Bliss

Today I had such high hopes for a delectable dinner and dessert. I had it pictured in my head that my braised lamb and Greek meal would rival that of our favorite Greek restaurant. Well, it didn't quite meet my expectations, though my husband thought it was delicious. But I still think the gluten free pita bread recipe I used must have had fake comments, because there is no way my results looked anything like the original. It was more like naan, decidedly chewy, and a really sad waste of a really expensive flour blend. Most of our meals cost less than $8 total, which is saying something since we have to deal with Canadian prices. But this meal cost as much as a restaurant meal would cost, so the results weren't making my heart leap for joy by any stretch of the imagination. Still, my hubby was happy. So I guess that means something. Right?

Thankfully, dessert was delectable. It was easy to make, and it was a delicious combination of flour-free cake and chocolate mousse. Even better was the fact that the recipe actually said it would essentially look messy. I can do imperfect. And this? This dessert is perfect imperfection. Or would that be imperfect perfection? Who knows? All I can say is that it is the perfect Easter dessert, especially when children are involved. And it's yummy enough for even the most grown-up of adults.

Thank you, Nigella Lawson. You are my hero.

This recipe is from Nigella's Feast cookbook, American edition, page 169. She says it serves 8-10. I'd say it serves about 6-8 if you have a chocolate lover in there. ;)

Ingredients for the cake:
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
6 eggs; 2 whole, 4 separated (keep both parts!!!!)
1/3 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup sugar (1/3 cup for yolks, 1/2 cup for whites)

Ingredients for topping:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 c. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
several Cadbury mini Robin's eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. LIne the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.

2. Melt the 8 oz. chocolate with the butter in the microwave and stir until smooth. Allow to cool a bit.

3. In a stand mixer, whisk the four egg whites until firm, and then gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape and the peaks are shiny but not stiff.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk two whole eggs and four egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla. Gently fold in cooled chocolate mixture. Put a dollop of the egg white mixture into the bowl and stir to combine. Then gently fold in the rest of the whisked egg whites. Nigella says it should take about three stirs, but it took me a few more.

5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked but not wobbly on the surface. Cool in pan on wire rack. The middle will sink as it cools and the sides will crack. Do not freak out. This is supposed to happen. Ah, the beauty of purposeful imperfection.

6. Remove the cooled cake from the pan, and gently separate from the parchment paper with a large spatula. Carefully slide onto a cake platter. Nigella says not to worry if bits fall off and to put them back in a loose fashion. Remember, you're trying to make a bird's nest here. Smooth perfection is NOT what you want.

7. Melt the 4 oz. chocolate and set aside to cool. Whip the cream until you basically have a whipped cream consistency. Gently fold in the vanilla, and then fold in the melted chocolate.

8. Spread the chocolate whipped cream on the top of the chocolate cake, smoothing all the way to the edge with a spatula, taking care not to squash out all the air in the mousse mixture. Decorate with candy eggs.

9. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat. Leftovers will keep for a day or two.

Thank you, Nigella. You are helping me forget the rest of my kitchen experience today. Well, you, and the lovely Pinot Grigio I picked out from Trader Joe's. Beautiful combination.