Gabriela has also been a big supporter of the blog, suggesting that I branch out with tourism tips and the like. And she enjoys my cakes. So I had to make something special for the evening.
We met at an Italian restaurant, where we consumed a lot of food and even more wine--the pitchers of Italian red seemed to disappear before we even realized they were there. Five adults, five teenaged girls, five carafes of wine--it's no wonder a couple who had been seated near us asked to be moved.
But as things were winding down, I reminded Gabriela that I had made cake, so we went to our house to pick it up before returning to her place to enjoy it with, yes, a bottle of Champagne.
Gabriela told a story about how, growing up in Mexico, she always looked at the cakes on the covers of women's magazines and begged her mother to make those cakes for her. But in the tropical heat, with no air conditioning, the cream just didn't want to whip and the cakes looked kind of sad.
Well, I have to say my cake looked pretty sad, too. There's no frosting, and Maida says that cracks are to be expected. Fair enough. But I must also say that the cake disappeared almost as quickly as the wine.
We agreed that we would meet again soon, in Mexico (I seem to have my February vacation planned...) and that I would bake them another cake. I'm really looking forward to that.
Oh, and the cake is delicious--light and fluffy and yet extremely chocolatey. You may have noticed that I put cherry jam on half the cake because certain family members *cough Claire cough* object to fruit and chocolate. I recommend jam on the whole thing--cherry or raspberry or apricot. It offsets the chocolate/whipped cream thing nicely.
Here's the recipe. Make it for good friends.
Dione's Chocolate Roll
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or broken up
1/3 c. boiling water
8 eggs, separated
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
1/4 c. (0.75 oz.) cocoa powder, for dusting
Heat the oven to 350. Line a jelly roll or large half-sheet pan (12 x 18 inches) with parchment and butter the parchment.
Put the chocolate in a large-ish glass bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Stir to achieve as much melting as possible--I needed to give it another 20 seconds in the microwave. Let cool a bit. Put the egg yolks and 3/4 of the sugar in a medium mixing bowl; beat at high speed until the yolks are almost white, scraping once or twice during the process. Gently fold in the chocolate until you have a uniform color. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the salt until they start to hold a shape. Gradually beat in the rest of the sugar and beat until the whites hold a stiff peak (see the picture above). Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture about a third at a time. Gently spread into the prepared pan. Bake for 17 minutes (I took mine out after about 14 minutes, when I was starting to smell burned chocolate. Use your common sense.).
While the cake is baking, get out a large, clean towel and get it just barely damp. When the cake is baked, put it on a rack and cover it with the damp towel. Cover that with a dry towel. Then let sit and steam for 20 minutes. Uncover the cake and sprinkle it with the cocoa powder (through a strainer is best). Then cover the cake with waxed paper and then a cookie sheet and flip the cake over. Carefully peel the parchment off and let the cake cool to room temperature, preferably covered with more waxed paper. When it's cooled down enough, it's time to whip the cream.
1-1/2 c. (12 oz.) whipping cream
3 T. (0.75 oz.) powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
(1/3-1/2 c. jam of your choice)
In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until quite stiff--Maida suggests just this side of butter. Spread jam on the cake if you'd like, then spread the whipped cream on top of that. Use the waxed paper to help you roll up the cake the long way. Yes, it will crack, and Maida says you can sprinkle on more cocoa if you want. Chill the cake and enjoy with a nice glass of Champagne.