Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prune-Cognac Chocolate Cake

Once upon a time I was thoughtfully gifted rolled chocolate truffles set in tiny prunes.

Prunes soaked in Armagnac are a classic, and nice either alone or served alongside chocolate cake.
I thought I'd go ahead and put them all together in some fudgy goodness.

Armagnac vs. Cognac vs. brandy.... well, it can be your preference here (or, of course, whatever you have available if you're going that route).
I will not attempt to pretend to be an expert on any of the above, though I can say that there's a difference in how Armagnac and Cognac are produced and distilled, as well as the regions of France where the two hail from.

The cake is dense, fudgy, somewhat boozy, deep and dark- a masculine chocolate cake if I may say so.
The booziness intensifies a bit as the cake sits, the flavors meld and the Cognac permeates the cake.

 If a piece is around to "test" the next day, you will likely be able to taste a difference.

And besides, who doesn't need a deep, dark, rich dessert as the weather gets colder?

Prune-Cognac Chocolate Cake
serves 12

1/3 c (80 ml) Cognac (or Armagnac or brandy)
2/3 c (100 g) prunes (dried plums), chopped
12 oz (340 g) dark chocolate (60-70%)
5 oz/10 T (142 g) unsalted butter
5 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 c (150 g) granulated sugar
1/2 t (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 t (2 g) salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 175 C. 
Prepare a 10 inch (26 cm) springform pan by buttering the bottom and sides of the pan and wrapping a piece of large aluminum foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If you do not have a large enough roll of foil, pleat two pieces of foil together to create a wider piece. 

Put a kettle or a pot of water on to boil as preparation for later baking the cake.

Chop the prunes into 6 pieces or so (roughly raisin-sized pieces) and place them in a small bowl. 
Pour the Cognac over the prunes and let them sit at least 30 minutes, stirring every now and then. 

While the prunes infuse, place the butter and chopped chocolate in a large heatproof glass or stainless steel bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, you only need an inch or two of water to melt everything. 

Once everything is melted, whisk the mixture together so that the butter and chocolate are emulsified. 
Remove the pan from over the top of the pan of water. 

In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt to combine.
Whisk the egg mixture into the melted chocolate mixture until everything is well-combined.
Fold in the soaked prunes and any extra liquid using a rubber spatula so that everything is blended throughout the cake batter.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and place the pan inside a large roasting pan that will easily accommodate it.
Pour boiling water halfway up the side of the cake pan and cover the top of the cake pan with foil. 
Place the roasting pan in the preheated oven and bake about 50 minutes, until the cake is set. 

Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and remove the foiled cake pan from the roasting pan and onto a cooling rack. Remove the foil from the top of the pan as well as from around the bottom of the pan, being careful to remember that everything is still hot. 
Let the cake cool completely, remove the ring from the pan, and slice with a very sharp knife- making sure to rinse the knife in hot water between slices and wiping the knife dry before proceeding for clean cuts. 

Refrigerate any leftovers.