Thursday, February 09, 2006

Smooth, dark chocolate

Back in the day, I worked as a bartender in a hotel in Bloomington, Illinois. I was working the night shift one night, starting at around 4:00 to get the bar set up. Now, Bloomington is a twin city with Normal (yes, that's really the town's name, and there's a good reason for it, which you can find here.) Normal is home to Illinois State University, a fairly large public college.

As I was setting up the bar, cutting lemons, making simple syrup, inventorying this and that, a couple of black guys came in and sat way down at the end of the bar, near the door. I went down to offer them a drink. As I was making their order at the station nearest them, I heard one of them excitedly talking about a new Mercedes he had found for sale somewhere in the area. It was chocolate brown. It seemed like guy number one was trying to convince guy number two to buy the Mercedes.

Now, my friends, this was in the day. I looked up from my work, smiled, and said, "Ooo, chocolate brown. My favorite color!"

Guy number two grinned, grabbed my hand as I set down the drinks, kissed it, and asked, "Am I the right shade, darlin'?"

"You'll do, you'll do, " I said, or something friendly like that, and then went back to work at the other end of the bar.

The guys eventually left, and left me a very nice tip, I might add. (Considering how many years ago it was, it must have been a nice one for me to still remember it!)

Later, when other customers and employees came in, I learned that George Benson was in town for a concert at ISU. And I realized just who had kissed my hand. I was a huge Benson fan. I could never have flirted with him like that if I'd known who he was. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I did not wash my hand for two days.

Dark chocolate. He kissed my hand. How smooth is that?

And now for a not-so-smooth transition ... I'm not a rabid chocolate fan. I tend more toward lemon desserts, creamy or sugary things like creme brulee, lemon bars, strawberry shortcake, etc. When I do indulge in chocolate, I like it dark, soft, and very, very smooth. A delicious truffle wins out over a bag of Hershey's whatever every time. It also wins out over most Belgian chocolates (sorry, Belgian lovers!) like Godiva, which I find too waxy for my taste. I want my teeth to sink through the chocolate, not squeak through it.

I found a recipe for this heavenly chocolate dessert in, of all places, A Taste of Home magazine. Now, I don't mean to be a snob about A Taste of Home. I've gotten many good recipes out of it. It specializes in recipes with not too many ingredients, most of which you can probably find in your cabinets. What's not to like about that?

But this recipe is special, a little highbrow. Not your run-of-the-mill AToH recipe, to my mind. It's essentially a flourless chocolate cake, with a crust of crunchy chocolate wafer crumbs and a frosting that is a perfect third component. This dessert deserves a better description than I can give it. I can only say, "Try it, you'll like it!"

It's especially wonderful to serve when you don't want to be baking at the last minute, because it should be made the day before and refrigerated, then frosted just before serving.

So, without further ado, here's "my" Velvet Chocolate Dessert:

Cake Frosting
1½ c chocolate wafer crumbs ½ cbutter, softened
2 T sugar 3 c confectioner's sugar
¼ c butter, melted (no substitutes) 3 T baking cocoa
2 c semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz) 3 to 4 T milk
6 egg yolks

1¾ c whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla extract


Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small bowl, combine wafer crumbs and sugar; stir in melted butter.
  • Press onto the bottom and 1-½ inch up sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  • In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Cool.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, cream and vanilla; beat well.
  • Gradually stir a third of the cream mixture into melted chocolate until blended.
  • Gradually stir in remaining cream mixture.
  • Pour into crust.
  • Place pan on a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set.
  • Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.
  • Refrigerate overnight.

Frosting:

  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter.
  • Combine confectioners' sugar and coca; add to butter with enough milk to achieve frosting consistency.
  • Pipe into center of dessert.
  • Refrigerate leftovers.
This is my entry in the weekly Get Your Just Desserts event. Head on over there Sunday to see what else is there to be seen! Better yet, send in a recipe and be seen yourself!

2 comments:

mll said...

I loved that story from the past. I could just picture it all!!! Thanks for sharing it.

Eva said...

"Turn your love around....."
Great story! My only celeb run-in was doing the narrow grocery aisle dance with Stephen King in Bangor. Oh, and shaking hands with Jesse Jackson, but how many other thousands of people have done that? chocolate brown...love it.