Like many things French, this cake gets better with age. I wouldn't put it in a cupboard for three months, but one or two days after cooking, this little chocolate cake gets even more intense and moist.
This recipe was one of the first introduced to me when I lived with a French family in Paris. The mother was quite the accomplished cook. She was also the one who introduced me to endives and other foods I had never tried before (like soupe de navets or turnip soup). It was quite funny as I enjoyed everything she ever cooked me (ok, except for beetrave... a boiled, gelatinous beet cut into thick slices), but her family members were very tough critiques! Often, the children would make faces out of disgust if there was something "slightly off", which was probably imaginary. Who knows, though? My palate is still très americaine!
But no, I still stand by how amazing of a cook she is and I often tell people she is my inspiration for learning how to cook and eat better.
This cake was something she often baked for me. It took me a year later after living with them to meekly ask for the recipe. The mother graciously granted me the recipe. Still, no matter how I make this cake, it just never turns out as amazing as when she cooks it. But don't fret, dear readers, this recipe is still amazing. I just cooked it last night for Petit Copain's birthday party and everyone ate it. There weren't even any crumbs left in the pan!
David Lebovitz also has a beautiful French Chocolate Cake recipe in his book, The Sweet Life in Paris. In his version, he fluffs up the eggs first before finally folding them into the batter. I've used a combination of Lebovitz's recipe and the original recipe given to me by my French Family's mother. The cake ends up more fluffy in texture. In this post, I'll only provide the latter recipe, but if you haven't picked up Lebovitz's book yet, you should ASAP. I like both versions of the cake.
One thing I do retain from Lebovitz's recipe is the choice to use Lindt chocolate. He writes that the chocolate should be as dark as possible, but I like sweeter chocolate. He suggests that 70% or higher cocoa is best. I've experimented with different dark chocolates (even milk chocolate!) and I still prefer 64%. If you go lower than that, I would use less sugar. Also, keep with Lindt. It's divine!
As I've already mentioned, the best part about this cake is that you can make it a day or two before, and then forget about it. I'd cover the cake though while you store it, but no need to refrigerate it. Keeping the cake in the cupboard or in a shaded part of the kitchen is where the magic will happen-- the Lindt chocolate just gets more and more exceptionally tasty each day.
I highly advise that you melt the chocolate and butter together in a small metal bowl over hot water. Microwaving chocolate always seems to burn it!! Unless you and your microwave are seriously in tune with each other, melt your chocolate the pastry chef way.
Traditional French Chocolate Cake
- 160g or 5.6oz Lindt dark chocolate (64-80% cocoa), broken into pieces
- 100g or 3.5oz softened, unsalted butter, cut into slices
- 3 large eggs
- 180g or 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 30g or 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- pinch of salt (preferrably sea or koscher salt)
- 1 1/2" deep tart or rounded cake pan
- parchment paper
1. Preheat the oven to 160C / 320 F.
2. In a large pot or casserole, boil a liter of water or enough water to let a small mixing bowl float on top.
3. While waiting for the water to boil, prepare all your ingredients. Separately measure out the sugar, flour, and crack open the eggs into a small bowl, setting everything aside. Cut the parchment paper to fit the pan and grease it lightly with butter.
4. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to medium-low heat. In a small metal mixing bowl, put the chocolate and butter pieces together. Put the bowl on top of the hot water and let the ingredients slowly melt. Stir often with a silicone pastry spatula. Use a torchon or kitchen towel to hold onto the bowl while stirring to prevent burning yourself.
5. After the chocolate and butter has melted, immediately transfer the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, scrapping off as much of the mixture as you can with the spatula. Add in your other ingredients (flour, sugar, egg, salt, etc.) and whisk together. You may also use a mixer with a whisk or paddle attachment on medium-low speed.
6. When your ingredients are finally well-mixed, pour the mixture into the parchment covered pan. Place the pan in the oven and wait 20-22 minutes.
7. After the 20ish minutes are up, turn off the heat and let the cake cool in the oven for another 5-10 minutes depending on your preference (the sooner you take it out, the more fondue/molten it will be).
8. Take out the cake and let cool. You can wait a day or two to eat it or if you can't wait, enjoy the cake the same day! Top with powdered sugar or thick, cold crème fraîche when serving.
Miam! Let me know if you like this recipe. À bientôt!