If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.
Today: Orangette's Winning Hearts and Minds Cake, for anytime you'd like to win hearts and minds -- or for anytime you're tired of wintertime vegetables.
By our calculations, you've been eating greens for a solid month now. You've dutifully eaten dark, leafy greens; you've massaged your kale, an act in which both you and the kale get coaxed into January submission. Maybe you swaddled it in miso and cream when no one was looking, but you promise you still absorbed all of its nutrients anyway.
People, it's time. You've done your part. There shall be no more sneaking into the pantry for an austere square of chocolate. We're on the brink of February, and if there's one thing we love about this month (lest you think it's the slushy, mud-stained snow drifts) it's that we get to rejoice -- unapologetically -- in fountains and fountains of chocolate.
Kind of like this cake does.
This stunner of a cake comes from the recipe annals of Orangette, where Molly Wizenberg first caused me to aggressively drool over the idea of chocolate and butter and eggs in a perfect union. And it is just that: To make this successful, you take everything out of cake that is getting in the way. Take out (most of) the flour, the leaveners, and cast the oil aside. Get the vanilla outta there.
You're left with a cake that -- like you in February -- is gloriously unapologetic. It is what it is, and it's sticking to its guns. It doesn't hide under frosting, or compete with fruit. (You will drape it in a slip of lemony whipped cream, however, but are you really going to protest that?) It is in your face.
Melt some dark chocolate, add to that some fancy butter (more on that later), then mix in sugar and the eggs. Watch the batter turn from thin and unhomogenized to a thick, smooth, chocolate satin.
As it bakes, it will gently swell, only to start a graceful fall when you take it out to cool. This is a good thing: It will settle in slowly, slouching as you do when you read a good book. Sliced, it can look a little funny -- buckled in some places but not in others, and cracked on the surface. Take a bite. Take another, drag it through uber-seasonal Meyer lemon whipped cream. Learn that you shouldn't judge a cake by its slice.
This is only as good as its ingredients, so splurge on great butter and chocolate. With a list of ingredients only four-deep, this is the slow food of cakes, like what Alice Waters might eat when she takes a break from her vegetable garden. Quality-ingredient gospel applies here as ever.
If you can hold off on eating the whole thing at once, this only improves with age; and, as Molly says, from a stint in the freezer. You know what that means, lovers: make this now, in time for Valentine's Day.
Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream
Very lightly adapted from Orangette
Makes one 9-inch cake
7 ounces best-quality dark chocolate
7 ounces unsalted European-style butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Peels from 1 Meyer lemon
Photos by Eric Moran