Eat Like You Read It: Wintersong
This was a surprising doozy of a book, one that made me uncomfortable, breathless, eager, hopeful, and rather dazzled by all the folklore.
I have a full (mostly spoiler-free) review on Goodreads, but for now my focus is on a delicious image that popped up early on, just sixteen pages into the story: a Chocolate Torte.
While "chocolate torte" is mentioned a few more times in the story, and in varying degrees of enjoyment, the first mention conjured up images of the kind of decadent chocolate dessert I wanted to make for myself.
Though I imagine that Liesel and Käthe were probably thinking of something like a Sacher torte or Bavarian chocolate cake, I decided that I (and my gluten-sensitive stomach) needed a flourless chocolate cake.
Before I get to the making of the cake, which was based on a recipe from Epicurious minus the glaze, I want to detail the plans behind the decorating of the cake.
Chocolate cakes serve as a great background for powdered sugar designs, like chalk on a chalkboard. All I needed to do was make a template.
I began by taking the collar of the springform pan and tracing the inside to create the borders of my template. I used medium grade drawing paper, meaning it was thicker than your average printer paper, but still very flexible.
Next I used a bowl to trace a circle that would function as the basis for the glass dome on the cover.
Then I did a freehand drawing of the outlines of the rose and snow inside the dome, making sure to leave part of the circle open.
Then I took my precision knife and cut out the pieces that I wanted to be white on the cake.
I set the template aside and then got baking.
12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or waxed paper; butter paper. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, stirring often.
Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold lukewarm chocolate mixture into yolk mixture, then fold in vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake cake until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack (cake will fall).
Gently press down crusty top to make evenly thick cake. Using small knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Place 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round atop cake. Invert cake onto tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper.
It took about 40 minutes of prep time to get the cake into the oven. And while initially it seemed fairly fiddly with this various steps, it all came together quickly and easily.
The hardest part was waiting for the cake to cool!
Once it did it was time put the template on the cake and get sifting.
As far as the taste and texture itself, the top was a little harder than I thought it would be, which could be why the recipe includes a glaze for the top. The inside was springy, though it separated a little bit when I broke my slice with my fork, which I suspect is from not folding everything together quite enough.
Overall, I was really pleased with how it turned out!