The majority of my visits to Paris have been in early June. I have found that time of year to be perfect - not too hot; not too crowded. But I have, on occasion, traveled to Paris in the fall and winter. For someone who prefers walking to taking the metro, it becomes more challenging at those times of the year. Fall and winter are, as expected, cooler and rainier, with fewer daylight hours to navigate the streets of Paris. Another noticeable change is the restaurant menu. On one October visit, I remember every café and bistro I entered had a chocolate cake with vanilla sauce on the dessert menu. It was common to see chocolate cakes and large pitchers of crème anglaise atop small tables placed in the dining rooms amongst the clientale. It is hard to pass up dessert when you have been staring at it the entire meal, imagining the entire time what it might taste like. And, in my case, I also order it so I can compare it to my creations at home.
It was my husband's birthday this past weekend and I made Fran Bigelow's Deep Chocolate Torte along with a Crème Anglaise Sauce - a reminder of fall in Paris. This cake will go far. It is dense and rich. I suggest doubling the recipe for Crème Anglaise. I like placing the slice of cake in a deep pool of the sauce.
Fran Bigelow's Deep Chocolate Torte
recipe printed in Saveur | November 2001
• 1 pound dark chocolate, preferably Cacao Barry Equateur (60 percent cacao) or Callebaut (56 percent cacao), finely chopped
• 6 eggs
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
• 1 cup heavy cream
• Cocoa for dusting
1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water and allow to melt completely.
2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan. Cut a 9-inch round of waxed paper and press it over the bottom of the pan.
3. Beat the eggs, sugar, and liqueur in a large heatproof mixing bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring with a wooden spoon, until warm but not hot. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Slowly stir in the melted chocolate. (Be patient with this step. Slowly stir until fully incorporated).
4. Whip the cream to soft peaks and gently fold into the chocolate mixture. Carefully transfer the batter to the pan.
5. Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the torte at least 2 to 4 inches from the side comes out clean. The center should be just set; do not overbake.
6. Let cool to room temperature, remove from the pan, and peel off the liner. Dust with cocoa.
from French Tarts by Linda Dannenberg
• 5 large egg yolks
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large saucepan, whisk together the yolks and the sugar. In another saucepan, heat the milk and the vanilla extract over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a spoon. Set over medium heat and stir constantly until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Do not let the sauce come to a boil or it will curdle. Remove from the heat and place plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool, then refrigerate if not serving immediately.