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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekly Recipes: March 19

Chocolate Cloud Cake

The only resemblance this flourless chocolate cake has to a cloud is in the frothy whipped cream on top. It is delicious and decadent. This small cake fed our entire family as well as another six people. With two pieces left over. This recipe is only slightly modified from Richard Sax' recipe in Classic Home Desserts. It is one of two or three I rotate through for my own birthday cakes. The thing about this cake is that it is dead simple and quick to make. It is so impressive, though, and people think you are some sort of superstar baker.

8 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Chambord

2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons Chambord
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line the bottom of a 12 inch springform pan with a round of wax paper; do not butter the pan. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl set over hot water. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted; set aside.

In a bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs and the 4 egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar just until blended. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in the Chambord.

In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the 4 egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until the whites form soft mounds. Stir about 1/2 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whites. Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top.

Bake until the top of the cake is puffed and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly, 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overbake.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack; the cake will sink as it cools, forming a crater with high sides.

When serving, whip the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and Chambord until not quite stiff. With a spatula, carefully fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, pushing it gently to the edges. Dust the top lightly with cocoa powder. Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cake. Carefully remove the sides of the pan and serve.

Olive-Herb Bread

This bread is based on this one from my friend Rebecca. I modified it and added a cheesy, herb-y, olive-y topping that is so delicious you could just eat a loaf of it yourself and keep it from your family. For a homemade bread, it is amazingly fast to put together. (And, yes, that slice is all that was left over, why do you ask?)

2 cups water
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper flakes (or red pepper flakes)
1 teaspoon onion granules
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded provolone
1/2 cup grated parmesan
5 cups bread flour

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded provolone
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 pound kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 pound Spanish olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme

Either mix all the ingredients for the bread in a big bowl or use your bread machine on the dough cycle to do it. Don't let the dough cycle run to completion. Place a baking stone (or other baking pan) in a cold oven in the middle.

On a lightly floured board, knead the dough slightly and cut into four equal parts. Make a slash down the center of each loaf, lengthwise and place on a peel that is dusted with semolina or cornmeal to transfer to the pan in the oven. Arrange all four loaves so they fit with room to rise and close the oven. Turn on the oven to 400˚ F. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Increase heat to 450˚ F.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together all the topping ingredients. Set aside. When bread is baked, remove to a rack to cool while the oven is increasing its temperature. After a few minutes, slice two of them in half, horizontally. Place four halves in a jelly roll pan, crust side down. Cover generously with the olive-herb-cheese mixture. Bake for about 5 - 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. While it is baking, you can devour the other loaves of bread with your husband or wife. Or, you can leave them alone and save both for meatball or Italian beef or almost any other kind of savory sandwiches.

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