* Reader Recipe
My dad was coming for a visit, and Emma was going to have two girls from horseback-riding camp sleep over. I had an hour between meetings, and I decided to make this super easy, super rich, perfect-for-me dessert from my new bible, Gail Monaghan’s book Lost Desserts. It took less than an hour to make even though I made mistakes and had to start over a few times. I always add liqueur to my chocolate–check out my absolute fave, Our #1 Favorite Chocolate Cake as a prime example–but this time the half-pound of semi-sweet chocolate turned into a waxy blob, not once but twice! I talked to Gail about it and she said it was because I didn’t add all four tablespoons of dark rum the recipe called for (I figured I was serving this to little girls and didn’t want too much of a rum flavor…and so I halved the amount of rum). I only had a pound of semi-sweet chocolate on hand, so the third time I mixed equal amounts of milk and bittersweet chocolates and added one tablespoon of espresso powder.
Any which way, the cake was great…much like an elegant, sophisticated, no-bake version of a Nestle Crunch bar, and I look forward to trying it again using all four tablespoons of dark rum. It was created by Michael Field, a concert pianist-turned-cookbook writer and cooking teacher, and was the first of his recipes Gail ever made. A dessert in the most extravagant Italian tradition, it was popular in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. Gail writes that it’s similar to the French turinois, though the latter includes chestnut puree instead of grated almonds and Kirsch instead of rum. Both she (and Field) recommend serving it with a whipped-cream garnish. Moi, aussi!
1/2 lb. semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
4 T dark rum
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T superfine sugar
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups finely ground toasted almonds
Pinch of salt
12 Social Tea or Petits Beurre biscuits, cut into 1-by-1/2-inch pieces (don’t worry if they’re messy, but discard the crumbs)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1/2 cup very cold heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate with the rum, stirring frequently Set aside to cool to room temperture.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg yolks, one at a time. Blend completely, then add the almonds, followed by the completely cooled chocolate.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites together with the salt until soft peaks form. FOld the whites into the chocolate mixture until all the white has disappeared, then gently fold in the biscuit pieces.
Lightly grease a 1 1/2 -quart loaf pan with tasteless vegetable oil such as canola and spoon in the chocolate mixture. Rap the pan sharply to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate, preferably overnight, until quite firm (at least four hours).
To unmold, carefully run a small knife around the sides of the pan, then dip the bottom in a shallow pan of hot water for 15 seconds. Quickly invert it onto a chilled rectangular or oval platter. If it does not unmold, repeat the dipping process.
Smooth with a knife or spatula. Return to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes or up to 48 hours, or until ready to serve. Dust just before serving with Confectioners’ sugar, cut into very thin slices and serve with dollops of chilled whipped cream.
NOTE: This recipe uses raw egg whites. If you are concerned about bacteria, you can use pasteurized egg whites of liquid egg whites as a substitute. Also, there’s less risk of bacteria with organic eggs.
Other Recipes from Gail