Deep Dark Chocolate Cake and Champagne
Our Flourless Chocolate Wedding Cake
I love cake.
Over the years, I've created choo-choo train and teddy bear cakes to commemorate first birthdays and engineered conical volcano cakes replete with spewing lava (dry ice) and plastic dinosaurs to entertain six-year-olds. The "I'd rather have pie as cake" request was fulfilled once or twice. Young John had a multi-year stint with peanut butter frosting on a chocolate cake as his favorite. Lacy pink cakes said "Happy Sweet Sixteen", and German chocolate cakes were the once a year preference that signaled that it was Dad's birthday. Countless baby shower cakes, anniversary cakes, and even a few wedding cakes made it in to my cake baking history for dear friends and family. And a plain ol' oatmeal spice cake with burnt sugar topping or the like was often found waiting as a quick snack between school and soccer practice.
I Really Like This Man
So who was I to say no when the wedding coordinator at King Estate Winery asked us to come for a tasting to select our choice for wedding cake? We were presented with a variety of selections: Hazelnut cake with vanilla buttercream (a little too much cinnamon for the occasion), white cake or chocolate cake, filled with a variety of estate made preserves and topped with fluffy buttercream (delicious but too "wedding-y" for people our age, we thought.)
My Baby and I, Taking in Our Guests at Our Reception
"May we just have your flourless chocolate cake, the one that's always on your menu, served with pistachio ice cream like you do in the restaurant?," we asked. "Three small layers, no fancy frosting but dusted with cocoa and 10x sugar?" Toby, King Estate's talented and artistic baker made a quick sketch. "Like this? Would you like me to add grape clusters from our harvest and little fruits and flowers from the estate to add a finishing touch?"
Perfect. Almost as cool as the volcano cake.
And I love celebrating. Throw a little champagne in with the cake, and any moment can become a party.
The day after our wedding, we packed up our little wedding cake layer top and a lush bottle of locally produced Domaine Meriwether champagne and drove to San Francisco for an overnighter before catching a plane to New Zealand. In San Francisco, the dense chocolate cake and the bubbles extended our celebration even further, this time a bit more privately.
What Could Say "Celebrate" Any Better?
Yesterday, a big box marked FRAGILE FRAGILE FRAGILE arrived on the doorstep. Inside was a wedding gift of 18 sparkling crystal champagne flutes, identical to some special ones we'd sipped champagne from on our honeymoon.
A Lifetime of Memories, Waiting to Happen
At a swank New Zealand restaurant, I'd enjoyed the glass almost as much as its contents, and made the following note in my travel journal. "Schott Zwiesel champagne glass: Gentle understated curve of the stem, appropriately restricted rim to capture bubbles. Form and function elegantly intersect."
Schott Zwiesel, the Elegant Champagne Glass
So, upon unwrapping the thoughtful gift, what did we do? We popped a cork, of course, filled one of the fine glasses the first of many times ahead, and commemorated yet another wonderful day.
Flourless Deep Dark Chocolate Cake
4 oz. good quality dark chocolate (I often use Trader Joe's 72% Belgian Chocolate, sold in 17 oz. bars), chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut in 8th's
pinch of sea or kosher salt
3/4 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 375˚. Butter one 8" round cake pan, and line bottom of pan with wax or parchment paper.
In double boiler, melt chocolate and butter together until smooth, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and salt. Whisk in eggs until thoroughly combined. Sift cocoa powder over top, and gently fold in, then stir briefly just to combine.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until top develops a thin crust. The traditional toothpick or skewer cake testing method doesn't work here. You don't want to dry the cake out, and it will set up once cool, so it's a bit better to under- rather than over-do-it on this one.
Allow cake to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Release any stuck edges with a thin knife, and invert on a rack to complete cooling. Serve dusted with additional cocoa and your favorite ice cream or berry sorbet.
Wedding photos in this post are credited to William D. Pond. Thank you, Bill.