Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Wine Blog Wednesday #13
When I read Clotilde's (of Zucchini and Chocolate) challenge for Wine Blog Wednesday #13, to make a dense, almost sinful chocolate cake, pick a wine to go with it and talk about it, I was determined to make a contribution. However, I am not, I must admit, much of a baker. I have said more than once that if folks are still hungry at my house when it comes to dessert time, I sort of get my feelings hurt!
But I rose to the task. Clotilde included a recipe, which sounded just fine to me. The hardest part was picking the chocolate. I perused the chocolates in the shop, although I knew it had to be Valrhona, a wonderful chocolate from France. The one I used had 71% chocolate. But then I was drawn to the Lindt Excellence Intense Orange bar, dark chocolate with bits of orange and (I found later by reading the small print on the back) tiny bits of almond as well.
So I did what any of you would have done: I made two, with the only recipe difference being the chocolate. Interestingly, though, was the difference in the pans I used. One, the straight chocolate one, was done in a 8" spring-form pan. The other, with the orange flavor, was done in an 8" cake pan, but it was one of those insulated ones, with a layer of air between two layers of metal. I found that at the end of 30 minutes the spring-form pan cake was more than done. And the second cake needed a few more minutes.
There was an overwhelming preference to the texture of the cake baked in the insulated pan. It was moister and smoother on the tongue. Not that anyone left any of either on his plate!
Now came the choice of wines. My friend Larry rose to the occasion to pair the straight chocolate cake with a 1995 Banyuls. From Les Clos de Paulilles. Banyuls is the southern-most AOC appelation in France, on the Mediterranean, near the border of Spain Banyuls is a fortified wine...think of it as France's answer to port. Our wine was a deep dark, tawny, rich flavored mouthful. Made 100% with the grenache noir grape, with notes of dried fruit, particularly raisins and currants, and a nutty finish, I don't believe we could have had a better match.
I reached into my wine closet for a bottle of Domaine de Coyeux 1997 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. I just love a good Muscat dessert wine! From the Southern Rhone valley, it is grown on rugged hillsides with low rainfall, so the Muscat flavors are concentrated. Fermentation is stopped by adding a bit of brandy, which fortifies it, and retains sweet fruit of the muscat grape. A sparkling gold in the glass, the bouquet was of rich floral and ripe grape aromas. Lush and heavy with apricot, citrus and honey flavors, it made a near-perfect match for the orange scented cake.
An interesting thing was this: the Banyuls really didn't complement the orange cake. The raisiny taste made the orange flavor taste muddy. And the Muscat REALLY didn't complement the straight chocolate cake. Funny how that works, isn't it?
You'll want to try one of these cakes for yourself. It couldn't be easier!
Clotilde's Melt-In-Your-Mouth Chocolate Cake
2 sticks, less 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 oz dark chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 heaping tablespoon flour
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8" cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Break the chocolate into chunks and place in a glass bowl.. Top with the butter and microwave for 10 seconds. Stir and microwave for 10-15 more. Stir again. Repeat if necessary until chocolate has melted and mixed with the butter. (Alternately, you can do this in a double boiler.)
Scrape into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Let cool slightly. With a wooden spoon, stir in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Finally stir in the flour.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven but let the cake set in the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove and place the pan on a rack to cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Take out an hour before serving. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan, remove and place topside up on a cake plate.