Sunday, October 27, 2002

Nina's Collapsed Chocolate Souffle Cake

In Laura Shaine Cunningham's debut novel, Beautiful Bodies, Nina Moskowitz and five of her friends gather for a dinner party in Manhattan during the storm of the century to celebrate a momentous occasion. The book will be available in June 2002, but in the meantime, you can share "Nina's Collapsed Chocolate Souffle Cake" with your reading group.

Bake and cool in advance. Makes one 8-inch cake.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter
7 oz. good semisweet chocolate
2 oz. bitter chocolate
6 jumbo eggs
3/8 cup brown sugar
34 cup granulated white sugar
3/8 cup cake flour
3 tablespoons finely grated almonds
12 teaspoon cream of tartar

Butter a spring form pan. Line the pan bottom with wax paper, then dust with flour. Melt butter in a heavy bottom pan, then add chopped chocolate. Stir over low heat until blended. Separate eggs and beat the two sugars into the yolks. While chocolate is warm (NOT hot), whisk egg/sugar mix into it. Stir in flour and almonds. Whisk egg whites until foamy, soft peaks form. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg white mixture. Pour into pan, bake approximately 35-40 minutes or until cake is set around the sides but has a six-inch circle that is "fondant," semi-soft. The cake will rise and crack around the edge and separate somewhat from this center. The center should just wiggle lightly when you shake the pan. It will continue to cook when you take it out of the oven. Cool completely in the pan. To serve: Turn upside down, peel off paper, and powder with confectioners or vanilla sugar. Cake keeps well for 3-4 days (Ha, as if you will have it around for 3-4 days!)

Author/Chef's Note
Like Nina, the character in Beautiful Bodies for whom collapsed chocolate souffle cake was created, this dessert has a soft center, collapses almost intentionally and gives pleasure, always ending in bittersweet regret. It should be eaten after disastrous romantic encounters, in the company of one's best friends, to build up a supply of theobromines, the chocolate chemistry that causes momentary joy and is the only known botanic cure for lovesickness. The cake can be eaten standing up, or while weeping. It's best enjoyed while violating a diet.

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