Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chocolate Cake: Impending Doom

Posted by Beau RN

Next Saturday, my husband and I will be hosting ten friends for a dinner.  As the dinner and cast of guests have developed, the meal has gone from distinctly Jewish (a beautiful brisket even though it's the first night of Hanukkah) to straight up Italian (Lasagna, lost family recipe).  Inadvertantly, we've assembled seven single friends and and eighth who's husband can't attend.  We assume to have put our Yenta in four-wheel drive.

So the quandry as these things go is what to serve for dessert.
We are not fancy or chefs or particularly good with pairing things that seemingly go well together.  Luckily, we also don't care about those things and have friends around us who don't care  either.  We expect Saturday to go swimmingly.

But the dessert did cause me to pause and think for a second whether I wanted to rely on some device or ploy we've done over and over or do we swing out and really just go there.  Obviously since I'm writing about it, we all know I'm going there.

I knew when I saw it during the movie version of "Julie & Julia" that I would make that amazing chocolate cake Meryl Streep made during the movie and Amy Adams copied.  I bought Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" as soon as the movie was over, knowing full well I probably wouldn't make more than one thing out of it, let alone do all 500-and-something recipes over 365 days like the movie/book/blog.  The  Reine De Saba (Chocolate and Almond Cake) has stayed but I haven't had an occasion to make it yet so I pulled out the tome this evening and read through the recipe.  Butter, flower, sugar, separated eggs whipped up in a frenzy while the chocolate and rum (or coffee) slowly melts over a pan of simmering water.  These are things I can do.  I can also make sure I follow Julia's advice and leave the center underdone to give it a molten quality that is, apparently, divine.

My friend Jim, the closest friend I have with any culinary past who is now studying to be a baker, told me when I bought the book, "Make sure the first thing you make from it is the Reine De Saba."  That advice seems to be the most powerful, magical command I think I've ever been given and seems the most appropriate in these circumstances.

Don't get me wrong, the chance for a catastrophic baking failure on my part, leaving our party of seven singles, one -minus one, and the hosts dessertless, is not lost on my at all but I will be channeling my best Julia, regardless.  I have my white apron which is elegantly embrodered with "Poopy" on the front to show it is mine and will have a fine bottle of some red wine off camera and at the ready, rest assured.  So we'll see how it goes.  I'm sure there will be pictures.  Cursing also, but pictures, none the less.

(Photo is of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and is mine, all mine)

12/13 - The dinner party with our good friends went off without a hitch and the cake, while not as molten in the middle as I suppose it should have been, came out, if not flawless, then pretty damn close.  There absolutely was something beautiful and powerful in following her recipe and feeling like she was whispering over my shoulder as I creamed the butter and sugar and whipped up the egg whites.  There was a whole lot of love that goes into making something from scratch, with intention and purpose.

(photo by me)


  1. Sounds terrific. City house or country house?
    Also, I have always thought that Julia botched the cake once or twice causing the "soft center" but found it so delectable she decided to recommend it. Must see the movie.

  2. Dammit. I think it baked a little too long...the middle isn't so much molten as it is done. Oh well. I'm feeding it to the boys and they'll have to manage with it.