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September 01, 2007

Chocolate Nemesis

For our September Challenge Duff ABC's and I decided to try out flour-less Chocolate cakes and Coulis. Today my Husbands plane home from India was delayed and I was feeling sad. When I feel sad I bake. So I got a jump start on this months challenge (after all it IS officially September, barely). I didn't have the stuff for the Coulis so I'll make that next time, we're trying out 2 different recipes for this cake to determine which one we like best. The first on the chopping block is Chocolate Nemesis from the River Cafe Blue cookbook. After looking around the Internet it seems that his recipe has a history of not turning out for those brave enough to try it. So after reading some advice online I dug into the recipe. Here is the Link to My ABC's Chocolate Nemesis.

Chocolate Nemesis
Serves 10-12

24 oz bitter-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
10 whole eggs
2 3/4 C + 2 Tbls OR 3C - 2 Tbs sugar
2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C water

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Pick your pan sizes and line the bottom with parchment paper and the sides with Pam. You can use a 12 inch, or 2 8 inch pans. Or I used a 6 inch and a 10 inch to experiment with different sizes.
2. Heat 2/3 of the sugar in a small pan with the water until the sugar has completely dissolved to a syrup. I actually let it boil for quite some time, letting it thicken up a bit.
3. Place the chocolate and butter in the hot syrup and stir to combine until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
4. Beat the eggs with a third of the sugar until the volume quadruples-this will take at least 10 minutes in an electric mixer.
5. Add warm chocolate mixture to the eggs and continue to beat, more gently, until completely combined- about 20 seconds.
6. Pour into the cake tin and place in a water bath. It is vital for even baking. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until set. Let it cool in the tin before turning out.

To get the cake out of a regular cake pan when are ready to serve the cake, loosen around the edges of the pan with a hot knife. You can place the pan on a hot stove burner for 45 seconds or so to warm the bottom. But with the parchment paper I didn't need to do that. Place a plate on top and invert the pan. Tap bottom gently with the butt of a knife and the cake should drop. Remove pan, peel back parchment, and voila!

Okay, now the issues, changes and discrepancies...
The first issue was converting the UK measurements into something us Non-metric Americans could easily use. That was easy enough. Then the Chocolate mixture sank to the bottom when I added it to the eggs. It took awhile to incorporate with the egg, and they fell quite a bit, next time I would keep beating the eggs on low while slowly pouring in the chocolate to see if that helped.

Here was the biggest discrepancy: the length of cooking time. I think the recipe assumes you have a convection oven, which cooks at a lower temp and for shorter. So to make up for that you can add a bit of temp (go up to 350) and time. I kept the low temp (325) and added a LOT of time. The small pan went for 50 mins and the larger pan for 70 mins. If you use the recommended 12 inch pan I would assume it would take 80-90 mins. If you use 8 inch pans try 60 mins.
You can use a springform pan, but I wouldn't recommend it. It is hard to do the water bath, even when you wrap the pan with foil it tends to have leaking problems.
Okay, taste and texture. MMMMMmmmmmmmmm. The texture was magnificent... Super moist from the center to the outer edge, with a slight crunch from the crust on top (bottom once it's turned out). Soft, thick and melt in your mouth... Not mushy, airy, grainy or goopy. And the taste was fabulous, especially if you like dark chocolate... Which I DO. I was totally pleased with this recipe and didn't have any of the issues I had read about online, So I think the time and temp was the biggest culprit for them. If you have a convection oven the regular recipe should be just about perfect. Let me know....

It didn't need anything but I tried both crushed Carmel (I tried to make it myself -- more on that later) and also Strawberry ice cream (I HAD to try a slice of both the small and large cake to compare). I actually liked the sweet airiness of fresh whipping cream with it (my third slice). Make sure you slice it THIN because it is dense and rich and you don't need much to feel full.