This year, I’m thinking of skipping the time-consuming Bûche de Noël for Christmas Eve dinner and making a simpler dessert, instead. One idea is to go with a recipe that I helped to promote for Ghirardelli 20 years ago. Chocolate Decadence Cake—even the name of the recipe seems retro today—used to be one of my favorites, but I’d forgotten about it with the passing of years.
This is a fairly easy recipe and it’s nice and chocolatey, which would please my granddaughter. The cake is topped with drifts of whipped cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate leaves. (I skipped the raspberries for this test.)
If you don’t want to deal with the garnishes, I suggest you skip this recipe. It comes out cracked and shrunken—the nature of the recipe—so you don’t want to leave it bare.
What makes this dessert sensational are the chocolate leaves. They are very easy and quick to do, and they tend to impress guests, so it’s good to learn how to make them.
To make chocolate leaves, wash some lemon leaves (unsprayed; no pesticides) and dry thoroughly. Melt a handful of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. For tips on microwaving chocolate, check this archived post.
Dip a clean fingertip in the melted chocolate and spread thinly on the underside of each leaf. You want the underside because that’s where the veins of the leaf are most prominent. Refrigerate the coated leaves for a few minutes, chocolate-side up, until chocolate hardens and gently peel the leaf away from the chocolate. Peel the leaf, not the chocolate, because the leaf is flexible while the chocolate is brittle. Now proceed to the recipe below to make the cake.
Special Fork starts its winter hiatus beginning next week, December 26, for three weeks. We will return on January 16 with more recipes and food tips.
Dave and I wish you the happiest holidays and a fabulous New year!
Chocolate Decadence Cake
12 ounces (2 cups) Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup butter
8 eggs, separated
½ cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package (10 ounces) frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed
2 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup whipping cream, whipped and sweetened
In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring constantly until smooth. In large bowl beat egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the vanilla about 3 minutes until creamy. Whisk melted chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture.
In another large bowl, beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar to form soft peaks; add to chocolate mixture. Gently whisk together until just blended.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with parchment. Spread batter in pan. Bake on lower shelf of 350-degree F oven 30 to 35 minutes until cracked on top and pick inserted into center comes out clean. Leaving cake in pan, place on rack to cool completely. (Cake with shrink and fall as it cools.)
Prepare raspberry sauce. Thoroughly drain raspberries over small saucepan. Whisk cornstarch into syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened. Cool completely. Gently mix in raspberries.
Remove cooled cake from pan; peel off parchment. Place cake on serving plate. Pipe or dollop with whipped cream. Garnish with chocolate leaves (see how-to above) and fresh raspberries, if you wish.
Cut into wedges to serve; pass the raspberry sauce separately. Makes 12 to 14 servings.
Recipe adapted from Ghirardelli. The original recipe calls for 3 bars (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate; I substituted with bittersweet chocolate chips.
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