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Aug 21, 2014
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By the Book: Alice Medrich’s Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake

February 18th 03:02pm, 2014




Alice Medrich’s newest cookbook, Seriously Bittersweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker’s Guide to Chocolate is a follow up to her hugely popular Bittersweet from 2003. The book covers everything from ganache to torte to savory mains with chocolate. I am admittedly not much of a baker, but as a lifelong chocolate enthusiast, I was keen to try, and Seriously Bittersweet is a great primer.

In her introduction, Medrich breaks down the whys and hows of measuring, mixing (Hint: If you’re not using your whisk, you’re doing it wrong.), and more. But her depth of knowledge really shines when she discusses chocolate. She starts with a detailed explanation on how chocolate is made (Thankfully, I had a little knowledge about this already.), and what really goes on during the baking process when you substitute chocolate that has a higher milk-fat or water content for another type. If my high school chemistry teacher had explained chemical reactions using 60-percent cocoa, I probably would have done better in class.




Normally I’m a frozen dessert girl, more apt to buy a pint of chocolate ice cream than whip up a chocolate cake. But it was Valentine’s Day, and when you’re already going for broke with dinner, you might as well end with an out-of-the-ordinary treat. And when one of the reigning queens of chocolate confections declares The Queen of Sheba chocolate torte as her go-to recipe for any occasion, you take note. But after a meal of braised short ribs and creamy polenta, I couldn’t justify serving a cake that required a stick of butter, four eggs and chocolate ganache.




Luckily, Medrich’s Queen of Sheba recipe is as verstaile as she claims. A lighter version, Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake, falls like a sad soufflé but is as rich as a brownie and soft as a pillow. The cookbook’s lower-fat recipes were designed to have fewer than 300 calories, less than 10 grams of fat and less than 30 percent calories from fat. Not exactly Weight Watchers, but my conscience was clearer.




Six egg whites whipped into a fluffy cloud give the cake the lift it needs to bake up beautifully. The end result was crumbly (No butter or oil makes for a “nubbly” cake, as Medrich would say.), but packed with intense chocolate flavor thanks to the 70-percent chocolate and a half-cup of cocoa powder. Medrich suggested serving the cake with a sprinkling of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream, but my valentine and I found it went perfectly with a scoop of coffee ice cream. Old habits die hard.




Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake
10 Servings

¼ cup blanched almonds
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 oz. 66- to 72-percent chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup premium unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
½ cup boiling water
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. brandy
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
Scant ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
2 to 3 tsp. powdered sugar for dusting
Lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional)

• Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unless you are planning to serve the cake on the pan bottom, line the cake pan with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the sides with vegetable oil spray.
• In a food processor or blender, grind the almonds with the flour until very fine. Set aside.
• Combine the chocolate, cocoa and ¾ cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the boiling water and whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the egg yolks and brandy; set aside.
• Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat on high speed until stiff but not dry.
• Whisk the flour and almond mixture into the chocolate. Fold about a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Scrape the batter into the pan and level the top if necessary.
• Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick or a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. The torte will sink like a soufflé.
• To serve, slide a slim knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, remove the pan sides and transfer the cake, on the pan bottom, to a platter, or invert the cake onto a rack or tray, remove the bottom and the paper liner, and invert onto a platter. Using a fine-mesh strainer, sift a little powdered sugar over the top of the cake before serving, if desired. Serve each slice with a little whipped cream, if you like.

Reprinted with permission from Artisan Books

What is your go-to dessert to make for special occasions? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Seriously Bittersweet. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Kristine W., whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won a copy of Sweet. Kristine, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew!



By Catherine Klene

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20 Responses to “By the Book: Alice Medrich’s Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake”

  1. Anna Says:
    February 18th, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    My go-to dessert for special occasions is probably a fresh fruit crisp. Using market fruits such as peaches or fresh blackberries. I put them in a dish and cover it with a mix of oats, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and sugar. You bake this. so easy! Scoop it up warm with ice cream and everyone is happy. Especially in the summer.

  2. April Morrison Says:
    February 18th, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Creme brulee…it looks difficult but is so easy. And you can make it ahead. Guests love to torch their own dessert : )

  3. Angie Says:
    February 20th, 2014 at 9:09 am

    My go-to dessert lately has been ice cream. Homemade ice cream, regardless of how simple the flavors, is the best ice cream!

  4. Cheryl Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 9:46 am

    It’s a chocolate tart…the recipe is from a cooking class I took in Paris!

  5. Pete Dulin Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I like to make chocolate coffee mousse with fresh berries. Loaded with flavor, hits the right notes with chocolate and coffee, and the berries cut the sweetness. Creamy but not too filling.

  6. Alida Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Tiramisu is my favorite dessert to make, the authentic recipe.

  7. Stephanie Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 10:00 am

    My go-to dessert is bourbon chocolate truffles. They are a nice balance of an after dinner drink and dessert all in one. I love that they are easy to make ahead, which is handy if your dinner requires extra effort, and are great for a group. We often mix in different flavors such as nuts, chili powder, peppermint, or ginger liquor to customize them for the occasion.

  8. Hao Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 10:37 am

    if i’m up for doing all the work, i make tiramisu… but the last time I made it was a nearly week long process where I had a third of how much fridge space i normally like. it was still fantastic though… mmmm… tiramisu!

  9. Nathan neal Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Right now it’s probably the molten lava cake from the mast brothers cookbook.

  10. Kirsten Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Poached bosc pears with chinese five spice powder, butter, lemon juice, and sugar. So delicious, but not overly sweet or filling after a great meal.

  11. Kalila Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I love making Pavlova for desert — easy, looks spectacular and is so delicious. I use whatever fruit is in season to top the pavlova, add some extra vanilla to the cream, add some fruit syrup/chocolate sauce/caramel sauce and not a crumble is left. I don’t like heavy deserts, and this is perfectly airy and light. And, if for whatever reason the Pavlova doesnt look quite right, you can you mix it in a bowl and tell people it’s Eton Mess. Perfect!

  12. Kathy Sjoquist Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Flourless chocolate cake! A dense, dark slice of heaven, coaxed into further perfection with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a few bright pops of fresh berries–raspberry, blackberry, whatever’s in season. Just perfect!

  13. Rose Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    The last couple times I made a white chocolate apricot cheesecake. Great flavor and surprisingly, not too sweet…it’s a hit every time!

  14. Kathy Ziegenmier Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I love to make seasonal cheesecakes. There are endless possibilities and almost everyone loves cheesecake.

  15. Tess Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Flourless chocolate torte – so delicious and it brings back a wonderful memory. My 16 year-old son made it for me for my birthday one year. He was so proud of himself. Now I make it when he comes home from college.

  16. Michele p Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Right now, whoopie pies

  17. Beth giffee Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Go to fresh fruits and chocolate!

  18. Lone H. Says:
    February 26th, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Bleeding-heart chocolate cakes with creme fraiche and fruit

  19. Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar Says:
    March 2nd, 2014 at 5:13 am

    Looks delicious! I love a good chocolate souffle and this recipe looks amazing. I would so love to try some.

  20. Sahil Says:
    March 13th, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    This definetly looks like one of the best desert recipes I have found, Bookmarking it for my girlfriends birthday treat.

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