I have a sweet recipe and an achingly beautiful poem for you tonight, just because it's Valentine's Day, and, well, just because.
I have been making this cake for almost two decades, at least a few times a year. I think maybe it originally came from the much missed Gourmet, but I have gilded the lily over time, adding my own touches. This is one of those cakes that fits nearly every occasion. It's sophisticated, and yet kids love it, too, so it's good for romantic dates, dinner parties, or family meals. You can use whatever berries you like on top, or none at all. I happen to love raspberries and chocolate together, so that's how I make it. If you're allergic to dairy, it's still heavenly even without the whipped cream. It seems like more and more folks I know are allergic to wheat, so this is a nice cake for them because it has no wheat all. It does, however, have nuts. You'll notice that it calls for very little oil. The nuts give it most of the oil it needs as well as acting, in combination with the cocoa, as the "flour" for this recipe.
Man, I love baking. It's like alchemy--pure magic!
FLOUR-FREE CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE CAKE
Serves 8 (or two people in love, or one person nursing a broken heart)
For the Cake:
~non-stick vegetable oil spray
~14 Tablespoons sugar (it's easier in this recipe to think in terms of Tablespoons because you divide them)
~2/3 cup walnuts, toasted (I toss them in a dry pan over low heat for a few minutes.)
~1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
~3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
~8 large egg whites
~pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line the bottom of an eight-inch springform pan with parchment or wax paper.
- Spray pan and paper with oil.
- Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of the sugar.
- Finely grind the toasted walnuts with 2 Tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Mix in 10 Tablespoons sugar, the cocoa, then oil.
- Beat egg whites and salt in a large bowl just until soft peaks form.
- Fold the whites into the the cocoa mixture in three additions. Spoon batter into the pan and smooth the top.
- Bake until cake puffs and a tester comes out with moist crumbs--approximately 30 minutes. Do not over bake! This is a moist, souffle-like cake.
- The cake will fall as it cools. Cut around the side and remove the side of the pan to let it cool.
- At this point you can serve it with just a sprinkle of 10X sugar, but I like to add the following:
To Go With (all of this is optional, but you won't be sorry if you add it!):
~splash of vanilla
~fresh mint leaves
~a Tablespoon or two of seedless raspberry or currant jam (I just press my seedy jam through a sieve.)
~a few whole toasted walnuts
~gorgeous dark (or white, if you prefer) chocolate to shave over the top
- Whip the cream in a well-chilled metal bowl with a well-chilled wire attachment. As it thickens, add in a splash of vanilla and a little 10X sugar to taste. I whip it almost until stiff peaks form.
- Top the throughly cooled cake with the whipped cream.
- Melt a couple of Tablespoons of the preserves and toss gently with firm fresh raspberries.
- Decorate the cake with the raspberries and fresh mint leaves. Sometimes I even shave a little dark chocolate over the whole cake.
- When I slice the cake, I often toss a few of the whole toasted walnuts onto the plate, along with an extra raspberry or two. I love the idea of using an ingredient from the cake as a garnish, plus they're delicious!
My friend Relyn posted one of the great sonnets of all time over at her place today, which got us to talking a bit about sonnets, and we've discovered that we both love the ones by e. e. cummings, so I thought I'd share my all-time favorite of his sonnets. It seems just right for today. This is poem 92 from his book 95 Poems. It is a sonnet, although, if you're a sonnet lover, you'll see that he plays a lot with the traditional form and makes it his own. I love that. Read it aloud and you will feel nothing but joy in the rhythms and images of this jewel-box of a poem.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
e. e. cummings