Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recipe #1: French Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Well, I did it. I kept the vow for the first day and chose a recipe from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks - The Best of Bon Appetit. (I happen to think it's pretty close to biblical in the world of cookbooks.) There's a plethora of gems tucked within those pages; gems that could easily spell the quick demise of the pounds I've recently shed.

Today's recipe was French Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze. Sublimely simple ingredients and calculated preparation made for a sinful, yet delicate cake.

I've both read and heard that the key to ensuring a pleasurable result in most any recipe is to start with the best of ingredients. If you can, this is the place to splurge and indulge on things like chocolate.

Semisweet dark chocolate is irresistible.

Especially when the logo is so curious.

And when it's melted with unsweetened chocolate, butter and honey, it results in the perfect velvety bath for a cake laced with butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds and breadcrumbs. Yes, breadcrumbs.

And what you have at the end is pure bliss.

One thing I concluded today was to focus solely on the recipe itself, taking far less pictures than I have before. I'm primarily focused on teaching myself (and perhaps achieving some uncomplicated personal goal) so I will rely on the principle of the recipe itself. And another thing, I believe in practicing something my mother drilled into me - read the recipe once, twice, and many more times before beginning. All too often a recipe can fail by missing one word - or in my case, looking at the wrong recipe when referring back to it for the instructions. Rather than spooning out dough for snickerdoodle cookies, I packed the dough into a 9-inch by 9-inch pan as though I was making snickerdoodle brownies.

Thankfully the French Chocolate Cake recipe was a hit, even though one key ingredient was omitted - orange zest. Instead of having a panic attack standing in the middle of our kitchen, I opted to forge ahead. But after tasting the rich and delicately tender cake, I believe it may have benefited from the orange zest. The zest would have added a subtle dimension. But as my husband pointed out, I can make it again. (Although he must like it fine since he's on his second piece.)

Best of all, I've joined my love of cooking with my fear of the uncomfortable and quest for control into something that feels as much awkard as it does rewarding. The love definitely came from parents and their love of cooking. From my mother's Beef Wellington to Scallop and Mushroom Pie, or my father's Vichyssoise and Au Gratin Potatoes - and every "normal" thing in between - it all came from them. Thanks mom and dad.

As I'm currently planning, the next recipe will be Julia Child's croissants - perhaps as early as this weekend. And since I read the recipe before hand, I've already started attempting to commit the recipe to some form of my memory. It's a total 12-hour process to create 50+ layers of dough.

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