Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Makes one 10-inch cake
Cristiana Magnani is a friend who lives in Reggio Emilia. To relieve the stress of her life as a neonatologist (a doctor who treats premature babies), she bakes. By her own admission she has a huge sweet tooth. One of her favorite creations is this flourless cake that tastes like rich chocolate candy, as its name implies. Cristiana says this cake is always ready in the freezer for herself and unexpected guests. The cake has a frozen shelf life of a month, defrosts in 20 minutes, and is easily put together from ingredients already on hand. Truly, it is like eating a fudgy chocolate bar.
1 sheet dampened parchment paper large enough to overhang the pan
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for garnish
Spray a 10-inch cake pan with baking spray. Line the pan with the parchment paper, allowing an excess to overhang the sides of the pan. This will make it easy to lift the cake out of the pan after it is baked.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave for 20 seconds. Off the heat stir in the chocolate and set aside.
Beat the sugar with the egg yolks in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer until the mixture is light and lemon colored. Combine the chocolate and sugar mixture. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.
Beat the whites in a clean bowl with clean beaters until soft peaks form; do not overbeat or the whites will be too dry, making it hard to fold them into the chocolate mixture. Fold one-third of the whites into the chocolate. Then fold in the remainder, taking care to do this gently so as not to deflate the batter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and place it in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 350F and bake 20 minutes or just until the cake is set; it should remain moist. Remove the cake and cool it in the pan at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. Carefully lift the cake out of the pan with the parchment paper. Cut around the parchment paper with a scissors or carefully remove the paper and discard it.
Place the cake on a cake dish. Sprinkle the top with confectioners' sugar and cut it into thin wedges. It melts in your mouth.
Note: If making the cake to freeze for future use, do not sprinkle it with confectioners' sugar until ready to serve.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA PRONTO by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2005.