Dave was watching a Cleveland Cavelier’s basketball game while I made this cake. When LeBron James, doing what LeBron James does, executed some crazy maneuver that only he could have pulled off, the announcers praised his creativity. Dave noted that for anyone else, the move would have been called stupid, but then for anyone else, the move wouldn’t have worked.
Putting prunes in chocolate cake is basically the same thing. If it works, you’re creative. If not, you’re…something else.
For this cake, prunes are chopped, softened in hot water, and flambéed. The prunes are mixed with egg yolks, sugar, melted chocolate and butter, flour and ground nuts, and beaten egg whites. The cooled cake is topped with a rich chocolate glaze. Put this way, it sounds a lot simpler than over an hour of baking and at least six dirty bowls proved it to be.
Baking the cake is where I, and it seems a number of other people, ran into problems. Dorie instructs that the cake is done when the sides are pulling away from the pan, the top is crisp, and a knife inserted into the center is “streaky.” Hm…”streaky” isn’t very definitive. My cake seemed to pass all three of those conditions and even unmolded cleanly, but when I cut into it, I realized it was gooey in the center. A better indicator of doneness would be a final temperature to be reached, to be read with an instant-read thermometer.
Regardless, I hereby decree Dorie creative, and not crazy, because a gooey center could not detract from just how delicious this cake is. If I hadn’t known, I would not have been able to identify the prunes in the cake, and certainly not the whiskey. However, there was definitely something more to this cake than a regular chocolate cake. I have two-thirds of it left, and it’ll be a miracle if I get through the day without stealing tiny slices here and there. It’ll be a miracle if I get through the next hour, honestly. (I did not make it. It’s half an hour later and I’m eating cake. And I agree with Dorie that it’s better at room temperature, but it isn’t half-bad cold either.)
Lyb has the recipe posted. I used whiskey instead of Armagnac, prunes instead of raisins, and ground almonds instead of walnuts. I wouldn’t change anything about the ingredients, but if you make this, err on the side of less streaky on a knife inserted into the middle at the end of baking. This cake is so moist that I think it would be a challenge to dry it out.
One year ago: Raspberry Bars