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Maida Heatter's Chocolate Serendipity


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Chocolate Serendipity

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts
Maida Heatter's Book of
Great Chocolate Desserts

by Maida Heatter, 1995, Random House

“This is a most unusual dessert – chic, simple, elegant, and absolutely delicious.
If they serve chocolate and whipped cream in heaven this has to be on the menu.
It takes time and patience to put together but it is great fun and can all be done a
day ahead. Plan it for a dinner party or a luncheon and once you have made it
you won’t be able to wait to make it again.
It consists of a thin, thin layer of almost flourless chocolate cake, covered with a thick, thick layer of whipped cream, covered with a paper-thin coating of
bittersweet chocolate glaze. It is then cut into squares before serving. And is refrigerated until it is served.
You will need a long, narrow metal spatula – mine has an 8-inch blade.”

20 portions (see note)

5 ounces semisweet chocolate (I use Baker’s 1-ounce squares)
7 tablespoons (1 stick less 1 tablespoon) sweet [unsalted] butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs (graded large), separated
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sifted all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Adjust rack to the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 10 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan. Dust it with flour, invert and tap to shake out excess flour. Set the pan aside.
Place the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Cover until partially melted. Uncover and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside, uncovered, to cool slightly.
In the small bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat to mix well. Beat in the egg yolks all at once, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating well. On low speed add the melted chocolate and beat until smooth. Add the flour and beat only to mix. Remove from the mixer.
Add the salt to the egg whites in a small, clean bowl and beat until they hold a definite shape but are not dry.
Fold about one-quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Then fold in half of the remaining whites, and finally the balance of the whites, being careful not to handle any more than necessary.
Turn into the prepared pan. Very gently and carefully spread the mixture to make a smooth and even layer – it will be very thin.
Bake for 18 minutes. If the cake puffs up in a few places during baking don’t worry about it – it will settle down.
Let the cake cool completely in the pan. It will be only 1/3 inch thick (thin). If you want to do this ahead of time, the cake can be covered in the pan and frozen or refrigerated. It is best if the cake in really cold or even frozen when the whipped cream is put on.

Whipped Cream

1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup strained confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: 1 tablespoon rum or brandy
3 cups heavy cream

Chill the large bowl of an electric mixer and the beaters in the freezer or refrigerator before whipping the cream.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small glass custard cup. Set stand for 5 minutes. Then place the cup in shallow hot water in a small pan over
low heat. Let stand until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from the hot water and set aside.
While the gelatin is melting, add the sugar, vanilla, and optional rum or brandy to about 2 3/4 cups of the cream (reserve about 1/4 cup) in the chilled large bowl of the electric mixer. With the chilled beaters, beat until the cream barely starts to thicken.
Stir the reserved 1/4 cup cream into the dissolved gelatin and, with the mixer going, add it all at once to the partially whipped cream and continue to beat until the cream holds a firm and definite shape. (In order to beat it enough and still avoid overbeating, which would turn it to butter, I suggest that you finish the beating at the end with a large balloon-type wire whisk.)
Place the stiffly whipped cream over the top of the cold cake and spread it evenly. With a long, narrow metal spatula spread it very smooth – it will just reach the top of the cake pan, and must be smooth.
Refrigerate the cake now for at least 1 hour, but it may be several hours if
you wish.
About half an hour before glazing the cake, prepare the glaze.

1 teaspoon dry instant coffee
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
1 ounce (1 square) unsweetened chocolate
4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate

In a small saucepan dissolve the coffee in the water. Add the sugar and shortening. Place over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Add both chocolates and stir until they are melted – don’t worry about making it smooth.
Transfer to the small bowl of an electric mixer and beat briefly on low speed only until smooth. Then let the glaze stand until it cools to room temperature. Again beat briefly on low speed only until smooth.
Now, to cover the cream with a very thin layer of the glaze: Starting a few inches from one of the narrow ends of the pan, pour a thick ribbon of the glaze (about one-third of the total amount) over the whipped cream along the narrow end of the pan. With a long, narrow metal spatula quickly spread it into a smooth, thin, even layer covering about one-third of the whipped cream. (You will find it best to rest the edge of the spatula blade on the rim of the pan as you spread the glaze. The glaze will actually be spread on the rim of the pan in some places.) Then immediately pour on the remaining glaze and spread that, covering all the cream and smoothing the glaze evenly. This is not difficult, just unusual. The main thing is to work quickly and do not work over the chocolate any more than is absolutely necessary.
Refrigerate at least until the chocolate is firm enough to be cut. That will take only a few minutes, but it can wait longer if you wish – several hours or even overnight. Or place it in the freezer – this will cut more neatly if it is frozen or partially frozen. However, frozen or not…superb!
With a small, sharp knife cut around the outside of the cake to release. With toothpicks mark a long side of the cake into five 3-inch lengths. With the small, sharp knife cut through the cake forming five 3-inch strips – wipe the knife blade after making each cut. Then, along a short side, cut down the middle, and then cut both halves in half again. (If this sounds complicated just cut it any way you wish, cutting the cake into about 20 portions. Cut carefully, and remember to wipe the blade after each cut.)
With a wide metal spatula transfer the portions to a large serving platter. Refrigerate until serving time.

Note: Although this makes 20 portions, I have found that it is not
too much for eight or ten people.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Hungarian Chocolate Mousse Squares
Maida Heatter's Chocolate Regal
Cappuccino Torte
Bittersweet Chocolate Roulade

Index - Chocolate Recipe Archives
Index - Miscellaneous Desserts

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