Irish Whiskey Chocolate Cake
Source: Maida Heatter's Best Dessert Book Ever (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1997 ed.), pg. 64.

Some days nothing goes right for you and the day I made this cake was one of those. I am convinced that planetary alignments or some other phenonema sometimes affect a person and no matter how careful you are, you are doomed to failure. 

Such was the case a few days ago. It was too rainy and dreary to be out in the garden so I thought I would work on updating some photos that had been lost on my blog. Technical issues as well as the sheer burden of the job prompted me to abandon that and go into the kitchen for some baking.

I proceeded as carefully as I could - I measured and set out all the ingredients and read the recipe completely before beginning. The first gaffaw happened after I was getting ready to pour the batter into the pan and realized that I had forgotten the flour mixture somewhere along the way. I reread the recipe and saw that it should have been added a few steps beforehand. There was nothing to do about this but go ahead and add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and hope for the best. It actually still looked good.

I was ready to bake and realized that I had been waiting quite a long time for the oven to beep to indicate that it had preheated. I checked the dial - it was turned to 350. I opened the oven door and the inside was cold as a wedge. A few weeks ago, we experienced a problem with the oven taking a very long time to preheat. We had the ignitor element replaced and it had been working well again. That is, until now and it was not heating at all. 

The only option, aside from throwing the whole thing in the garbage and going back to bed, was to bake it in the toaster oven which I've never used for baking. To make this even more trickier, the cake needed to be in a water bath (inside another pan) and she says that there is no way to test it and that you just have to bake it at the temperature and time recommended. Perfect.

Lo and behold, after exactly 30 minutes, the cake came out of the toaster oven looking and smelling divine. I let it sit for 10 minutes before attempting to flip it onto a wire rack. This is when the gods decided that I had not suffered enough. The rack on the bottom slipped, the cake dropped out of its pan, landing about halfway on the rack and halfway off. Maida had mentioned that this was a fragile cake and indeed it is. The part that landed off the rack crumbled into several pieces.

I was heartbroken but the cake was edible and I even managed to get a slice for the photo above. After the debacle, would you believe the cake was delicious? Michael said that it was one of her best. It is very moist and boozy and very sublime. As you can see in the photo below, it actually did not get quite done along the edges but that only happened on one side and was minimal. 

So, this is a cake to try again some day but not on a day when everything is going wrong. Michael wondered how this would taste with rum instead of whiskey. I have no idea but it may be worth a try. 


Disaster!


4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4-6 pieces
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped or broken
1/2 cup Irish whiskey
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sifted unbleached flour
3 TBS. unsweetened cocoa (preferably Dutch-process)
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt 

Preheat the oven to 350. Use a 9 x 2 inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Butter or spray the pan and the paper. 

Place the butter and the chocolate pieces in a double boiler over barely simmering water and stir occasionally until it has melted. (I bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat to do this). Set it aside to cool.
 
Sift the flour and cocoa together and set aside.


Beat the eggs with 2/3 cup of sugar (reserving the remaining 1/3) for several minutes until they are pale in color.


Add the melted chocolate.


Add the whiskey and the sifted dry ingredients. Remove the bowl from the mixer. You will need a separate bowl to whip the egg whites.

In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold a shape. On medium speed, add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and beat until stiff. Use the whisk attachment to do this (it also helps to put both the bowl and the whisk in the freezer for 5 or 10 minutes before using).

Add the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold it in just until the streaks disappear.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Place the pan in a slightly larger pan. Place it in the oven and pour hot water in the wider pan. 

Bake for 30 minutes.There isn't a way to test the cake so bake for 30 minutes exactly at 350 degrees.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes. Cover with a wire rack and invert it onto another rack. Remove the pan and the parchment lining. Let the cake completely cool to room temperature.

This is a delicate cake so before cutting it, it is best to place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes.


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