Tee hee hee, this is me beating the system. Just a little. Dessert Club is tonight. The theme is "VGP" which means, make something off this blog. Most awesome theme ever. But I really really really wanted to try this cake from Bon Appetit, so here I am posting it like an hour before our meeting. I've made it but don't have a picture (hence the photo from their website) and I haven't brulee'd it yet because I bought the wrong fuel for my *NEW* kitchen torch so I gotta run out super quick to Sur La Table and get some butane before our meeting! Busy evening. But this cake promises to be killer. Black Pepper Icing, are you kidding?
And not only did I get a torch just for the occasion (it will get plenty of use, hello, Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream made easy) but I got to get two new ingredients, too - creme fraiche (Whole Foods) and cocoa nibs (The Spice House.) I love expanding my repertoire. Here's the recipe!
Devil's Food Cake with Black Pepper Boiled Icing (print recipe)
3 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60%-64% cacao), chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 T sugar, divided
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee or instant espresso, optional
10 T unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 T cocoa nibs
Black Pepper Icing:
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Make the Filling: Combine chocolate and salt in the large bowl of an electric mixer; place a fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside. Pour 1 T cream into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over and let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring remaining cream and 1 T sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Whisk yolks and remaining 1 T sugar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture; return to saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens slightly and your finger leaves a path on the back of a spoon when drawn across, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Add gelatin mixture to cream mixture; stir to dissolve. Pour through prepared strainer into chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute; whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Whisk in crème fraîche. Using an electric mixer, beat filling until well blended, about 2 minutes. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto surface of filling; chill overnight.
3. Make the cake: Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, then dust with cocoa powder and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the boiling water, chocolate, cocoa powder, and instant espresso together until smooth.
4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until incorporated.
5. Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, and the remaining chocolate mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.
6. Fold in cocoa nibs with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating and switching the pans halfway through baking.
7. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto wire racks. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before assembling, about 2 hours.
8. Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Stir filling to loosen. Spread half of filling over cake in an even layer. Place second cake layer on top of filling. Spread remaining filling over in an even layer. Place remaining cake layer on top. Chill cake for 1 hour.
9. Make the black pepper icing: Mix 1 T sugar and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Attach a candy thermometer to side of a small saucepan; add remaining sugar and 1/2 cup water to pan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down side with a wet pastry brush, until thermometer registers 240 degrees, about 10 minutes.
10. Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat at medium speed until frothy. With machine running, gradually add reserved sugar and salt from small bowl. Gradually add hot syrup from saucepan to egg whites, beating at medium-high speed and allowing syrup to drizzle down sides of bowl. Continue beating whites until stiff and cool, about 20 minutes. Add pepper; beat until well blended. Immediately spoon topping onto cake. Smooth over top and sides. Working quickly, swirl icing decoratively. (Cake can be iced one day ahead. Cover with a cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. To brûlée the icing, use a kitchen torch to toast icing in spots.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2011