Monday, February 18, 2008

Chocolate Pavé

This recipe is from a chocolate cookbook that I borrowed from the library... but I must buy it soon. After asking for Fran's salted dark chocolate caramels for Christmas, I have since become obsessed with them, and the chocolatier behind them. Her book is great for the somewhat experienced baker, and vanilla lovers need not apply. With just three decadent ingredients, I knew this would be the recipe to try out first—for Valentine's Day, no less! Please note, Fran urges you to follow the directions to the letter so that it will turn out properly.

Chocolate Pavé
(or Pavé Josephine, as Fran has named it)

1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 eggs, room temperature

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper circle (I just used regular parchment paper, traced the pan, and cut it out).

In a double boiler or a good nonstick pot, melt the chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat when nearly melted and continue stirring until completely smooth. Add the room temperature butter in three parts, stirring until no visible traces of butter remain. (If the butter begins to melt and separate, stop and allow the chocolate more time to cool.) The finished mixture should be glossy and smooth. Set aside to cool until the mixture is the consistency of softened butter. Briefly return to heat if it begins to thicken too much.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs at medium-high speed, increasing to high speed until light and tripled in volume, 5 to 6 minutes. Fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture (stirring until it's completely combined and there are no streaks) and pour into the prepared pan.

Place the cake pan onto a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet, and put in the oven. Pour about 1/2 inch of simmering water into the baking sheet, making a bain-marie (water bath). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top looks dull and the center is shiny but set. When you shake the cake pan, the cake should jiggle slightly.

Cool the cake in the pan at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. To remove from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the edges and invert onto a 9-inch cardboard cake circle or tart bottom, leaving the parchment in place. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill overnight (preferably).

To finish the torte:
Remove from the refrigerator, unwrap, and peel off the parchment. Let warm to room temperature. Slide an offset spatula under the cardboard circle, rotating the spatula to release it completely. Carefully lift the torte and, supporting the cake's bottom with your free hand, slide it onto its serving plate.

Can be stored at room temperature up to three days (if it lasts that long!), with cut edges protected.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

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