A few months ago, I was in San Francisco and a friend of mine introduced me to a great local artisan chocolatier and we got to talk "excellence in Chocolate in the US and France" while visiting his atelier... It was really fascinating to hear him talk about his passion for chocolate and innovation in chocolate-making... I do believe in "innovation" in companies; some of our Executive Education clients are actually coming to Wharton to get their executives to be more innovative..... Obviously, it was even more mouth-watering to talk about innovation in... chocolate making! The very interesting thing he told me is that when he wants to bounce ideas, he calls up a French artisan chocolatier (excellent as well, trust me!!) and the two of them talk shop! From a business standpoint, this is really exciting to see two competitors helping eachother come up with another great product. It's a win-win situation: they both have something to win in coming up with new products because it will help their profession against the industrially-made chocolates that are out there and stealing some of their market share....
I could not leave the atelier without purchasing some chocolate bars to take home to Philadelphia to share with my husband and our children. This started a discussion among us as we tend not to agree on what defines "un excellent chocolat"... Like everything else in food, it does take time and experience to be able to distinguish and appreciate differences in chocolates... I am no expert... but do know that I'd rather not eat chocolate than a mediocre one... A real treat? A really nice piece of dark chocolate with an espresso after lunch (once all the dishes is done so that I can really enjoy my coffee!)...
Despite all that I just wrote, when it comes to baking with chocolate, I generally use the IKEA dark chocolate bars. IKEA chocolate??? Yes, I know that it is definitively not the best chocolate out there but it is good enough to bake a cake for a Sunday afternoon tea-break! This is my price/quality hat taking over....
Here is a recipe I got a few years ago. This recipe is a great recipe, and not just for people who avoid gluten.... The best thing? It's even the next day.. so very practical when I don't have time to bake something on Sunday morning... Verdict of the Chocolate-cake eaters in our family? They all love it! Would it taste better with a more-upscale chocolate? I am not sure. Will have to try! Bon App tit!
- 275 gr (9.7 oz) dark chocolate
- 5 medium eggs separated
- 175g (6.1 oz) sugar
- 140g (4.9 oz) almond flour (ground almonds)
- 1 TBs of rhum or orange liqueur (optional)
- Preheat ovent to 170C (340F)
- Roughly chop about 50g of the chocolate and reserve
- Melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave or in a double-boiler
- Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually whisk in half of the sugar, a tablespoon at a time until incorporated - you have a soft meringue.
- Beat the egg yolks together with the remaining sugar until pale and doubled in volume.
- Carefully fold in the meringue mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
- Gently fold in the chocolate
- Fold in the rest of the meringue
- Fold in the almond flour and the chopped chocolate.
- Add the rhum/liqueur.
- Fold into a round mold and bake in the oven for 30mns. After 30mns, turn the oven off and leave the cake for another 15mns.