Currently cooking from Tasty by Roy Finamore
Here’s the story of the dessert that almost wasn’t . . .
Once upon a time, I offered to provide dinner (with dessert, of course) to Bryan’s niece who just had a baby. Along with a huge pan of lasagna, I planned on wowing her with Finamore’s Chocolate Whipped Cream Cake filled with whipped cream and raspberries. It is elegant, but simple (and very pretty, judging by the picture in Tasty).
As I was reading through the ingredient list, something caught my eye. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Now, according to author Shirley O. Corriher (in her most recent book, Bakewise, she talks about how baking soda/baking powder works and the proper proportions one should use), 2 teaspoons of baking soda is the amount of leavening needed for 8 cups of flour. This recipe has less than 2 cups. So, I anticipated that the cakes would fall, and in the recipe, Finamore says that the cakes will fall a little. Uh, yeah. Take another look at that picture. I’d say my cakes fell *a little*.
So, with visions of a perfect black and white cake crumpling around me, I decided to turn the cake (which tasted fine, by the way) into a chocolate trifle by making Finamore’s version of chocolate pudding (and knocking out another recipe while I was at it).
Fortunately, the chocolate pudding recipe is pretty straightforward. You whisk together, egg yolks, cornstarch and unsweetened cocoa. You temper this with hot milk/cream, then the whole thing goes back on the stovetop to cook. Once it has come to a boil, you take it off the heat and stir in bittersweet chocolate, butter and some vanilla.
I wondered about the lack of sugar in the recipe, but figured that the bittersweet chocolate would provide the sweetening. Wrong! The dry bitterness of the cocoa powder came through loud and clear. Fortunately, the pudding was still liquidy and hot enough that I was able to stir in about 1/4 cup of sugar with no problems (I halved the recipe, so if making a full recipe, you’d need more sugar).
In the end, I got my chocolate trifle and it tasted fine, but I’m sorely disappointed in Finamore. I can’t believe that these two recipes passed muster as is. I did a quick search to see if there had been any corrections posted, but I didn’t find anything. The fix for the chocolate pudding is easy. I’d dissolve 1/2 to 2/3 cup of sugar in the milk/cream mixture as it is heating. For the chocolate cake, I’d reduce the baking soda down to 1/2 teaspoon or use 1 teaspoon baking powder along with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.