I completely forgot to share this recipe with you all back in May. Just as my job was shifting into full-gear for our annual event, my slated recipes and blog posts took a bit of a backseat to the 100-hour workweeks. Hopefully you can forgive me for hanging on to this gem of a recipe; I promise this one is worth the wait.
I created this dessert for a friend’s surprise 30th birthday party. It still strikes me odd that I am somehow old enough to have friends who have entered their third decade of life, even if I am only a few years behind them. It doesn’t seem so long ago when being in your thirties seemed incredibly adult and, well, old to me.
My view of turning thirty might have changed as I grew older, but there is nothing like a chocolate dessert to lessen any blow one might feel about joining a new age group. I needed a delicious, simple recipe – a crowd-pleaser amongst a group of people with varying tastes. I also needed a gluten-free dessert, so every person could indulge as desired. This chocolate soufflé cake fit my requirements perfectly and made a lovely vessel to hold a candle as we all sang our birthday wishes on a beautifully cool May evening, overlooking the East River and Queensboro Bridge.
Chocolate Soufflé Cake
slightly adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson
makes one 9-inch cake; 12 to 16 servings
I love this recipe, not only for the rich chocolate flavor and mousse-like consistency, but also for its ability to impress a group with minimal effort on my part. Just be sure to take the time to read the recipe through before beginning: while the recipe is not complicated, it is one where you will need your ingredients ready to-go and a general idea of the steps involved.
¾ cup walnuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped
14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 large eggs
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
Freshly whipped cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with 3-inch sides with parchment paper cut to fit exactly. Evenly distribute the walnuts over the bottom of the pan, then gently shake the pan back and forth to fill in any gaps.
Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches in a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Combine the chocolate and the butter in a stainless-steel bowl that will rest securely in the rim of the saucepan over, not touching, the water. Place the bowl over the saucepan and whisk occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the head and set aside.
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks and whites in separate mixing bowls. Add half of the sugar to the egg yolks. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the yolk mixture on high speed until light, fluffy, and the mixture triples in volume and falls from the beater in a wide ribbon that folds back on itself and slowly dissolves on the surface, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Don’t worry about the mixture being perfectly blended in at this point because you will be folding the whites in next.
Using the mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the rest of the sugar and the salt and beat until the whites hold medium-stiff, glossy peaks. Stir one-third of the whites into the chocolate-yolk mixture to lighten, and then gently fold in the remaining whites just until no white streaks are visible. Immediately turn the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until the top of the cake is no longer shiny, being careful not to let it soufflé (puff up and expand beyond its original volume), 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. As the cake cools, it will become firmer. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or for up to overnight.
Serve cake at room temperature with a healthy dollop of freshly whipped cream.