Comfort on a Spoon
by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence - Happy National Chocolate Cake Day on January 27th!
“… Say it loud and there’s music playing
Say it soft and it’s almost like praying…”
My apologies to West Side Story, but chocolate does bring out the poet in many of us. (As it’s been said - nine out of ten people like chocolate and the tenth person is lying…) My love affair with chocolate began in my early childhood, when my mom would spread Hashahar Chocolate spread (the Israeli version of Nutella) on warm, crusty slice of bread as a snack, or would let me lick the fudgy, chocolaty batter left on the spoon she used to make her chocolate cake.
That’s the heart of it, isn’t it? Chocolate conjures comfort, celebration and love. It has become such a part of everyday life that even during War World II, when rations were strict and severe, chocolate cakes still thrived. Ingenious bakers used substitutes for dairy products and Voila! A new chocolate cake was created. Resourceful bakeries titled new creations with war jargon like Blackout Cake and the public gobbled them up…
Israel was no different. Chocolate cake was part of the fabric of my childhood: my mother would whip us a quick chocolate cake about every other week for the four of us kids to gobble up. The fragrance would lure us from the street, before we even entered the house, initiating a race to the bowl that she would leave for us to polish. Sticky fingers, smudged cheeks and grins all around, we inhaled the warm cake. Childhood at its best!
Most Israeli households have a variation of this cake, handed down from a grandma or an aunt. It is quick, chocolaty and boasts a tender yet sturdy crumb that can stand up to heavy frosting, be glazed with ganache or plainly dusted with powdered sugar.
All it takes is one hour for a delicious and fragrant chocolate cake to be ready for an appreciative audience. So pull up your sleeves and let the baking begin!
Quick Israeli Chocolate Cake
Recipe Adapted from Lichtenstadt.com
Yield: 1 8” cake
200 grams bittersweet chocolate, (7oz)
200 grams unsalted butter, (7oz- 15T)
4 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup AP flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
150 grams bittersweet chocolate, (5oz)
150 milliliters heavy cream, (5oz)
1. Prep: Heat oven to 350F. Grease an 8” cake pan and line with parchment. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
2. Melt and cool chocolate: Place butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and on low heat melt, stopping every 1-minute to stir. Place aside to cool slightly.
3. Make the batter: Place 4 eggs in a bowl of stand mixer and whip on high for 2-3 minutes, until thick and light yellow. Slowly add in the sugar until batter is very thick. Using a spatula gently fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs until well combined. Add the flour mixture, folding gently until just mixed in. Pour batter into prepared pan, place on a rimmed baking sheet and then place in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs clinging.
4. Make the Ganache & Finish: Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then invert on a cooling rack. While cake is cooling make the ganache. Chop the chocolate, place in a bowl and pour the cream over it. Place in the microwave and melt on low heat, stopping to check and stir every 1-minute. Pour the ganache over the cooled cake and spread gently.