With all the uncertainty swirling around us, I say let's eat chocolate!
What is a chocolate freak out? It's a very intense chocolate dessert that falls somewhere between a cake, a torte and a cheesecake, a chocolate lover's dream. Best of all, you can always store one in your freezer. It tastes almost as good frozen and thawed as it does freshly baked and chilled.
Years ago, I had a catering business that sold this cake to restaurants. The name of this dessert came from those who tucked into this chocolate delight and proclaimed it a chocolate "freak out." Long before pastry chefs were a part of the culinary staff at restaurants, my baking partner and I were turning out loads of these chocolate gems across Los Angeles restaurants.
This is Seriously Simple to put together. I love the idea that you can make this a day ahead or even freeze it. The important thing to remember is to bring to room temperature before serving for the best texture, although I do have some guests who prefer it chilled.
Select good quality chocolate like Guittard, Ghirardelli or Valrhona, for the best flavor. I prefer a bittersweet taste, but if you want a happy medium you could use 1/2 pound semi-sweet and 1/2 pound bittersweet. It's also best to use room temperature eggs, because egg whites whip up to a much greater volume when at room temperature.
This is one of those desserts that is a true crowd pleaser. You might want to double this and stick one in your freezer for future "I need chocolate" moments! Enjoy.
Chocolate Freak Out
1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1-inch pieces
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Pint fresh raspberries
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Butter the sides and bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. Place an 8-inch round piece of parchment paper on the bottom.
2. In the top of a large double boiler over medium heat, melt the chocolate, making sure no water touches it. Add the butter, mixing to incorporate it with the chocolate mixture as it melts. Or combine the butter and chocolate in a large glass measuring cup and melt in the microwave, about 1 1 /2 to 2 minutes. Mix with a small spatula. Cool the mixture. Reserve.
3. In a medium bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until fluffy and light lemon colored, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and continue mixing just until the flour is incorporated.
4. In another medium bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until the whites begin to hold their shape. Add the sugar and continue whipping until they are thick and hold their shape but are not dry or overly stiff.
5. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg yolks, mixing well. With a rubber spatula, slowly add one third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, mixing from the bottom of the bowl to blend the whites into the chocolate. Add the remaining whites and continue gently blending them in until there are no white streaks left. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
6. Bake the cake in the center of the oven for exactly 15 minutes. (It will look almost raw but will continue to cook as it cools.) Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool. To remove the cake from the pan, use a knife to separate the sides from the pan.
7. When the cake is cool, place it on a serving platter and dust it with powdered sugar; or decorate with whipped cream all over the cake and then pipe rosettes all around the top in a circular border. Serve with fresh raspberries. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.
Advance preparation: This cake has the best texture when served at room temperature the day it is baked or made a day ahead, refrigerated and removed one hour before serving. It also freezes well.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Parties," and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)
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