Monday, August 25, 2008

Passover Chocolate Nut Cake (Page 709)


  • Date: Friday, August 15, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Kitchen: Emilee and Brian's Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Emilee and Brian
  • Recipe Rating: B

I was feeling very celebratory when staying with Em and Brian a few weeks ago, so I wanted to make a cake from The Book. Many of the cakes I have left are pretty fussy (e.g. Sauternes-Soaked Cake with Candied Kumquats and Toasted Almonds) and I was looking for something more on the simple side. This Passover cake fit the bill and sounded tasty. Because this cake is intended for Passover, it is flourless. The flour is replaced by ground nuts: pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts. The quantity and variety of nuts makes this cake not-too-cheap to make. The cake was simple enough to throw together. I beat 8 egg yolks in the stand mixture for a long time, then beat in chocolate, sugar, and some lemon and orange zests. (Note: one odd thing about this recipe is that rather than melting the chocolate before beating it in as you usually would, the recipe calls for the chocolate to be ground and then added. More on that later). In a separate bowl I beat the 8 egg whites to soft peaks. Then the ground nuts and the egg whites both got folded into the yolk mixture and the whole thing was baked in a springform pan. While this cake wasn't bad at all, it was a bit odd. For one thing, as you can almost see in the picture, the chocolate didn't melt into the batter, but rather appeared as specks in the cake. It was really more of a Nut Cake with Chocolate Specks than a Chocolate Nut Cake. If someone said, "Man I wish I had a piece of chocolate cake," this certainly wouldn't be what they had in mind. The other not-great thing was that despite the many nuts that went into the cake, the flavor was really dominated by the hazelnuts. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but really we should probably call this recipe Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Specks. On the up side, the cake was very moist, and if you like hazelnuts and chocolate specks, it had a good flavor. It rose well in the oven and had a very nice texture to it. The four of us couldn't finish this cake in one sitting so we ate it for the next couple days, and actually it seemed to improve a bit overnight. Emilee pointed out that this recipe would be more complete with something white and creamy to put on it, and I agree that some whipped cream, ice cream, or creme anglaise would have been an improvement. Overall, it wasn't a bad tasting cake, but it is also not one that I am likely to make again.

This recipe isn't online.

Home, sweet home! It took 14 hours of travel door-to-door to get home from Mackinac yesterday (Note: the horse taxi/ferry ride/drive isn't really that long, but we had to stop in Lansing to get some stuff out of storage and then we drove around East Lansing for a while looking for a house -- never mind that we aren't going to buy a house anytime soon, but it is SO fun to look!). We pulled up to my apartment (or, I guess I should say our apartment since my special gentleman is sort of living here now) around 2am, and I was pretty happy to be home! Today I went in to the office and it was a great feeling to be living my normal life again! I have had tons of fun traveling these last three weeks, and living in Boston all summer, but I was ready to come home.

It's funny the things you miss about a place when you leave. This evening I went to the grocery store, and when I walked in I let out a huge exhale. I missed my usual grocery store. I know exactly what the sell. I know exactly where everything is. It's a very comfortable place. Maybe that makes me boring, that I am attached to my grocery store, but that's ok with me. I am not ashamed to say that I live in a small town in the Midwest and I like it here! I missed Indiana while I was gone and I am glad to be back!

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