When I was interning at Pierre Herme Patisserie here in Paris, I did everything wrong. I cut the butter wrong. I put the cookie dough on the cookie sheet wrong. I squeezed the lemons wrong. I scraped the dried cookie crumbs off the parchment paper wrong. Basically I breathed wrong there so when the subject of dessert comes up, I naturally start twitching like Pavlov’s dog. When I find a few good dessert recipes that I can actually make without incinerating the kitchen, I stick with them. Over and over and over. No one has complained yet so I just keep baking… This is one tried and true recipe that I adapted from Fast Food My Way, the PBS Jacques Pepin cook book. He serves it with an apricot-cognac sauce but a few weeks ago my clients requested no cognac. Plain apricot sauce sounded too sweet so instead I used a strawberry puree. The strawberries at the market that morning were some of the best I’ve tasted since I arrived in France, so I bought a crate and went crazy.
Gateau de Chocolat avec Puree des Fraises
a very fancy way to say chocolate cake with strawberry puree!
8 oz (225 grams) bittersweet chocolate, broken into small squares
8 tbsp butter (1 stick or approx 100 grams), cut into cubes
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 baskets strawberries
sugar as needed
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Fill a small sauce pot about 1/3 with water and bring to a simmer. Put a stainless-steel bowl on top of the pot of simmering water. This is called a bain marie.
3. In the stainless steel bowl, put the chocolate, butter, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla.
4. Gently melt chocolate, butter, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla stirring with a spatula.
5. Once it has melted, whisk until smooth.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and yolks and add to the chocolate mixture. Whisk again until smooth. It will be a bit grainy at first but if you keep whisking, it with smooth out.
7. pour batter into ramekins or muffin tin liner. I use the magical silicone molds pictured below that require no butter or non-stick spray and are a dream to clean.
8. Bake for 8 minutes.
9. While the cake is baking, remove the stems from the strawberries and puree in a blender. Add sugar as needed to suit your taste.
10. Let set for a minute so you can flip them out. (Jacques’ recipes calls for cooling them to room temp but the inside isn’t as gooey then, so I prefer to serve them warm.)
11. Flip them back to right-side-up and top with sauce or fruit.