Suzzy's Cake

Suzzy's Cake

Recipe excerpted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme and used with permission from
© 2001 by Dorie Greenspan

Pierre and Frederick Herme's friend Suzy Palatin is a runway model, a cookbook author, and the inventor of this luxuriously soft, rich cake, the kind that in America might be given a name like Chocolate Decadence. The cake is spectacularly good and very easy to make. Indeed the ingredients are so rudimentary (they're the baker's basics), the method so simple (it's a cream-the-butter-and-sugar-together cake), that you have to wonder how it can be so good. Odds are that it's the half-pound or so of highest quality chocolate (don't skimp on the quality) and the just-right baking - the center remains ever so slightly wet.

At home, my wife, Frederick, and I serve this cake with whipped cream, or Vanilla Crème Anglaise. Sometimes we make the cake with raspberries, putting a thin layer of batter over the bottom of the pan, tossing over fresh raspberries, then covering the berries with batter. PH

8 3/4 ounces (250 grams) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona Guanaja, finely chopped
2 1/4 sticks (9 ounces; 250 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (70 grams) all-purpose flour

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius). Butter a 9-inch (24-cm) round cake pan that is at least 2 inches (5 cm) high, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, and dust the inside of the pan with flour; tap out the excess and set the pan aside.

2. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over - not touching - simmering water and heat until the chocolate is melted; or melt the chocolate in a microwave oven. Set the chocolate aside to cool; it should feel only just want to the touch when you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

3. Pour the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently, until the butter is creamy and the sugar well blended into it. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low, pour in the cooled chocolate, and mix until it is incorporated. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and mix only until it disappears into the batter. Alternatively, you can fold in the last of the flour with a rubber spatula. You'll have a thick, smooth, satiny batter that look like an old-fashioned chocolate frosting.

4. Scrape the batter into the pan, smooth the top, and slide the pan into the oven. Bake for 26-29 minutes, or until cake rises slightly and the top has lost its sheen. The top may crack a bit and the cake may not look entirely set in the center; when you test a cake by inserting a slender knife into the center, the knife will come out slightly streaked with batter, which is what you want. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool.

5. When the cake has cooled, chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or two to make it easy to unmold. Turn the cake out, remove the parchment, and invert the cake onto a serving platter so it is right side up. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Makes 8-10 servings
KEEPING: the cake can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to a month.

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