Nicole Hayes, pastry chef at San Francisco’s game-changing restaurant, Foreign Cinema, has created the proverbial Barry White ballad of chocolate cakes. Her fresh take on this south-of-the-border staple is rich, silky smooth and on Valentine’s Day the perfect prelude to the real dessert. Here’s how you can serve up this decadent dish for your special date night.
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more to grease pans
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 11 whole eggs, separated
- ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1½ cups almond flour or ground, toasted blanched almonds
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1½ cups heavy cream
Preheat an oven to 325˚F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray or butter.
In a medium saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate. Set aside and let cool.
Combine the egg whites and ¼ cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk until it reaches semistiff peaks. Set aside in a clean bowl.
Clean the mixer bowl, and combine the egg yolks with the remaining ½ cup of sugar. Whisk until it reaches ribbon stage.
Fold the almond flour into the chocolate mixture, and add the cinnamon and cayenne. Fold the yolk mixture into the almond-chocolate mixture, followed by the egg whites. Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes.
While the cake cools, prepare the chocolate ganache. Pour the chopped semisweet chocolate into a mixing bowl. Scald the heavy cream in a saucepan set over medium-high heat until it bubbles around the edges. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
Pour the ganache over the top of the bottom cake, and using a knife, spread it evenly. Place the top cake on the chocolate, creating a double layer. Next, smear the remaining ganache so the entire cake is covered.
Press toasted almonds into side of cake, if desired. Serves 10–12.
Shannon Tucker, sommelier at Foreign Cinema, recommends pairing the cake with Blandy’s 1985 Malmsey. The Madeira has a firm backbone of bright, salted toffee, which balances the richness of the chocolate in the cake.