Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.
Today: Jenny's famous chocolate cake for Mother's Day -- and all other days.
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Babies crawl and then they walk, and then they get their braces off and refuse to eat fondue with you on a Saturday night, and you sit in your kitchen alone imagining them in dorm rooms and first apartments and finally with their own little families and think to yourself, “What dish of mine will they miss and want?”
I assume my children will always associate me with Flourless Chocolate Cake. I have made this cake for years, because, Jenny-style, it is super easy and insanely versatile. I have made it for Passover, bake sales, and cake walks at fall festivals. I have made it for scores of school doings, birthday celebrations, dinner parties thrown by others, and random office events that I attended with ambivalence.
When friends send me frantic emails looking for a last-minute dessert, I pause for a moment to wonder why they never write to talk about the Ukraine, and then I send them this recipe and wait for the grateful reply the next day.
This cake is universally loved because it is intensely chocolatey, extremely rich, and has the appearance of something quite difficult to make, giving it effort points among your guests, even though you will know better.
It tastes best with good quality chocolate, though I have made it with Tollhouse chips in a pinch. It looks best when you whip the egg whites, though you can skip this step if you do not own a mixer. It is improved with sea salt over commercial table salt; I don’t know why. Powdered sugar on top makes it much prettier.
I have improvised over the years with orange-infused chocolate or dashes of peppermint oil in the batter, and this has been been received much in the way of a good Hollywood remake: Nice try mom, cheeky, but let’s revisit the original.
On a recent holiday, my 15-year-old (formerly known as the incipient pescetarian) rejected this confection in favor of cookies. Other guests were shocked -- what child refuses a rich chocolate cake?! -- but I well understood the drill. This treat, like a mother, becomes familiar and thus worn in its ubiquity. But knowing that it will reappear is a certain comfort. It will be available for all whom I love as long as I am blessed to walk the earth among them, and can find my 8-inch pan.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).