Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cooking School: Boca Negra

Close your eyes. Imagine the fudgiest brownie you have ever tasted. And understand that this cake is a million times better. It is all the fudge and none of the dryness, none of the chew of a brownie or a cake. It is silky, liquid fudge.
I turned back to Baking with Julia this week to find the Boca Negra cake. Boca negra means "black mouth" in Spanish. It is named because, the book claims, it will turn your mouth black with chocolate ater one bite. I can't verify this because I had it with tea.
I suspect that this "cake" is really a baked custard in disguise. It is mixed very quickly in a food processor and baked in a water bath. The recipe directs you to unmold it directly after taking it out of the oven. I was apprehensive, as often cakes don't hold their shape as well as promised, but this one popped right out. Not only that, I was able to turn it out and re-invert it onto a cake platter with ease - which made for a shockingly beautiful presentation. Unlike most flourless or nearly flourless chocolate cakes, there is no flaky crust waiting to crumble into a fine dust at first knife cut.
I served it after cooling it for about a hour, while it was still warm, but it kept well at room temperature. This cake can also be made ahead, but it will have the texture of fudge if served cold, so let it come up to room temperature before serving.

Boca Negra
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup bourbon (or rum)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
8 oz (2 sticks) butter, cut in 10 pieces
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of parthment or wax paper and butter again. Set the cake pan in a roasting pan and set aside. Set a kettle of water to boil while making the batter.
Place the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
In a medium sauce pan, combine bourbon and sugar. Cook over high heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Bring it to a full boil and pour over chocolate. Whizz chocolate and syrup until smooth, about 20 seconds.
With the motor running, drop in the butter piece by piece, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add in the eggs one at a time.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Place roasting pan in the oven and fill it with boiling water from the kettle until it reaches 1/2 way up the side of the cake pan.
Bake for exactly 30 minutes.
Carefully remove the cake pan from the water bath. Dry the cake pan. Lay a piece of plasti wrap over the top of the pan. Invert cake (and plastic wrap) onto a flat plate and remove the parchment paper circle. Reinvert cake onto a serving platter and remove plastic wrap.
Serve warm, or at room temperature, with whipped cream.

Note: This cake can be stored at room temperature for one day or in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be made well ahead and kept frozen for up to a month. If it is frozen, defrost it, wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight. Bring the refrigerated cake to room temperature before serving.