Here is a fine chocolate dessert suitable for expressing your affection on Valentine’s Day for your nears and dears, or for your own chocolate enjoyment.
I spoke Sunday at the Freeport Historical Society, giving a historical overview of chocolate consumption in our country. Chocolatier Andy Wilbur of Wilbur’s of Maine followed me with a Needham-making demonstration, and then we had a tasting of a 18th century-style chocolate beverage, two 19th century chocolate cakes and a sampler of Wilbur’s chocolate, after which we all reeled home in a cocoa haze.
FHS Director Christina White asked me when Americans began consuming very rich dark chocolate, and truth be told, it was really only about thirty years ago. Historically, we have preferred sweet milk chocolate for most of our century of chocolate candy bar consumption, and have enjoyed dark chocolate cake — you know, Devil’s Food Cake — for only about a hundred years, and even that is not as chocolaty as the more recent so-called “decadent” cakes or the murderous ones as in “death by chocolate.”
The Chocolate Torte that follows comes from my summer neighbor Dudley Fort, who perfected this recipe one summer and then took it to the Belfast Pie and Story Festival, where it won a prize by popular vote. Of course. After all, blueberries and apples are all well and good, but chocolate… ?
You can use a spring-form pan if you want, though I used a cake pan. In either case, you will want to line it with parchment paper, grease and flour it.
This recipe takes a pound of butter, five eggs and a cup and a half of cocoa. It serves twelve with whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream on top, which you really need to cut the chocolate intensity. If you try to serve six, make sure you know where your phone is so you can call 911.
Serves 6 to 12
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 cups of sugar, divided
4 sticks of butter, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9- or 10-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper. Put two and a half sticks of butter in a bowl and cream it with one cup of sugar. Beat the five egg yolks into it one at a time. Add vanilla. Melt one and a half sticks of butter and stir the cocoa powder, blending until it is very smooth, then add that to the yolk mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the five egg whites until they are frothy, gradually adding one cup of sugar and beating until you have soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the yolk and chocolate mixture and pour into the baking pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool it for about 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Cool completely before serving.
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