February simply cries out for chocolate! When the Christmas holidays have become but a pleasant memory and our bodies have forgotten the overindulgence of holiday feasting, when our moods are challenged by a long succession of wet gray January days and the sweet occasion of Valentine’s Day peeps at us from just around the corner, the mind becomes restless and hears that cry.
Well mine does anyway. Last week I sampled a small selection of Alma Chocolates my husband brought home from an errand in Portland. This morning I put a square of Dove’s dark chocolate inside a slice of a baguette warm from the oven and enjoyed this simple luscious treat with coffee for my Sunday breakfast. Then surfing the world of blogs I found this Death by Chocolate contest at Culinate.com and I could hardly think of anything else.
I have always loved to make desserts and a chocolate dessert is almost always my favorite. There have been times when a chocolate dessert could convince me to attend a business dinner with my husband. If the menu for dinner included that ice cream dessert with a peach and raspberry sauce on top chances are I would pass but, if the dessert was something chocolate, I would make an extra effort to attend.
In those days I tried many different desserts when we entertained at home but in time I got it down to what I thought to be the perfect three, Double-Chocolate Cheesecake, covered in chocolate ganache and little chocolate stars, Chocolate Truffle Dessert, shaped with cookie cutters and laced with liqueur, and Chocolate Decadence.
The recipe for Chocolate Decadence was clipped from a magazine, probably in the '80s. It features a chocolate cookie crust and a dense egg rich chocolate filling that is laced with hints of orange and cappuccino. It is a lovely dessert, so lovely in fact that I have used its picture for my header.
With these three chocolate desserts in my recipe arsenal I was sure I would never need to scan another cookbook or magazine for the perfect dessert to complete any meal. While I have to admit that my tastes have changed a little since then, and I long ago resumed the search for great desserts, this one has stood the test of time and is still a frequent visitor at my table.
½ cup finely crushed chocolate wafers (or chocolate graham crackers)
16 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 beaten eggs
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
Chocolate-covered coffee beans (optional)
Edible flowers (optional)
Prepare a 9-inch springform pan. (I cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper which extends slightly from the pan in all directions. Then I grease the parchment and the inner sides of the pan. This makes the cake easy to remove from the base and can be easily removed once the cake is chilled and ready to serve.)
Pour the chocolate wafer crumbs into the pan and lift and tilt to cover the sides and bottom of the pan with a coating of crumbs. Set aside.
Place chocolate, whipping cream, coffee crystals and cinnamon in a saucepan. Stir and cook over low heat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate mixture to a medium sized mixing bowl.
Combine the eggs, sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is thick and lemon colored, approximately ten minutes. Add the orange peel.
Pour one-forth of the egg mixture into the melted chocolate mixture and gently fold. Pour this mixture back into the remaining egg mixure and fold until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until the edge is puffed and firm approximately halfway to the center and the center is still slightly soft.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Let the cake continue to cool on the rack for 4 hours. Then cover and place it in the refrigerator for another four hours, or until serving time.
Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate covered coffee beans and edible flowers. I used trailing rosemary blossoms.