Brazilian chocolate cake

Adapted from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

Makes one 8-inch cake.

Deborah Madison calls for cake flour in her brilliant recipe. Last time I made it, I wondered if it would work just as well or almost as well with pastry flour (which I find easily at Whole Foods); I couldn't discern any difference at all. Cake flour, with its low protein content, is said to make the tenderest cakes; pastry flour's protein content is slightly higher, but still significantly lower than that of all-purpose flour. If you don't have either cake flour or pastry flour, you can substitute 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus 4 tablespoons cornstarch for the 2 cups of cake or pastry flour.

Also, Madison's original recipe calls for 3 ounces of semisweet chocolate for the cake part of the recipe and another 3 ounces for the icing; I have found that using a full 3.5 ounce bar for both worked just as well and eliminated the need to weigh pieces (one bar for the cake and another for the icing is so easy.) I use high quality, 72% cacao dark chocolate, the kind I like to eat. 


Ingredients

3 to 3.5 ounces dark chocolate

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot strong coffee

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus extra for buttering the pan

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups sifted cake flour or pastry flour (or the substitute described in the headnote)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a tube pan (bundt pan) that is constructed in one piece because the batter is very thin and will flow through the seams of a two-piece pan. Butter it generously and coat it with flour. Tap out the excess flour.

2. In the top of a double boiler, heat the dark and unsweetened chocolates with 2 tablespoons of the coffee over low heat, stirring it constantly until it is melted and smooth. Set it aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, then gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and the melted chocolate. 

4. Sift the flour and measure 2 cups; then resift it with the baking soda and the salt. Use a spoon to gently stir some of it into the batter, then stir in some of the coffee. Continue alternating until all the flour and coffee are incorporated. Pour the batter into the tube pan, and bake the cake for 50 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it rest 5 minutes in the pan, then out it out onto a rack and let it cool.

CHOCOLATE ICING

3 to 3.5 ounces dark chocolate

3 tablespoons water or strong coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (either room temperature or chilled butter is fine)

Put the chocolate and the water or coffee in a small heavy saucepan and heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate has melted. Remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla; then add the butter a few pieces at a time, stirring continually.  At first the icing will be quite thin, but it will thicken as it cools. The process can be speeded up by cooling it over a bowl of ice. When the icing has thickened and the cake has cooled, cut the cake in two (horizontally) and spread the icing evenly over the middle. Return the top and dust it with powdered sugar.