A Sweet Ending

The last time I counted, we had well over 300 cookbooks. Our living room shelves are covered from top to bottom with books. Books are also littered throughout the house. We subscribe to about 20 magazines and get both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times delivered daily. We are avid readers and information junkies.

But, to tell you the truth, I have been in a "book-reading-slump" since I quit a book in mid-read last summer. It was a book that everyone raved about. An Oprah book. A New York Times best seller. And I could barely get past page 176.

Well, that is exactly when I put the book down and called it quits. Honestly, I am not a quitter, so you can only imagine the guilt I have burdened over this travesty. So much so that I have yet to pick up another book and read it. Ouch!

Now, that doesn't mean I'm not reading, I am. But I desperately needed a good book to get me out of this non-book-reading-slump. I mean, summer is the perfect time to sit back with a good book and relax by the pool or in the hammock.

And I figured a book about cooking might be just the fix I needed. Since I love the food blog Orangette (although she doesn't post nearly as often as I'd like) and I have followed the success of Delancey, a pizza place that the author and her husband opened last year in Seattle to rave reviews, and because I always look forward to Molly Wizenberg's articles in Bon Appetit, I thought I'd enjoy reading her food-centric memoir, A Homemade Life.
It's an enjoyable and easy read that takes you on a vivid trip of her life's highs and lows and everything in between, most of which are centered around food. Our lives are quite parallel and her story is a heartfelt one that is peppered with travels, fun and unique recipes as well as love.

Although I'm not yet sure if this book is "the one" that will get me to start reading voraciously again, it was what I needed to get over the hump—and the extreme guilt of quitting a book that millions of others loved.

It did, however, give me a great chocolate cake recipe to dig into. And I'm always happy about that! It's the cake Molly made for her wedding and what her friend Kate dubbed "The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake." Molly won her boyfriend (and so many more friends) over with this cake, and Kate, too has had equal success with the cake.  Hence the name.

This is the recipe that wraps up the book. And what a sweet ending it is.

Buen provecho!
Chocolate Cake aka The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake
The Cowgirl Gourmet merely slightly adapted this recipe from Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life

Print recipe

This recipe is a one-bowl wonder. No KitchenAid required. Just a big microwave-safe bowl and a spatula or wooden spoon. And only five ingredients. But, because of its simplicity, please use the best chocolate you can find, which I hope would be at least 60% if not 70% chocolate. The hardest part may be removing the cake from the pan so the top is facing up.

Keep in mind that this cake also freezes well, and the author says it even improves with freezing, so you can make it a few days ahead of time. Molly suggests you allow 24 hours for it to come to room temperature before serving, although I, The Cowgirl Gourmet, prefer it served cold...ahhhh!

Serves 8

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 3/4 sticks butter (7 ounces), unsalted, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour (brown rice flour or almond meal would also work for a gluten-free version)
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round piece of parchment paper.
Put the chocolate and butter in a microwavable bowl.
Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring often, until just smooth. [This took me just three-30-second installments to melt the chocolate and butter.] (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler on a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, barely simmering water.) When the mixture is smooth, add the sugar, stirring well to incorporate. Set the batter aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Then add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition.
Add the flour and stir well to mix. The batter should be dark and silky.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly crackled, and the edges and puffed, and the center of the cake looks set. (Molly writes: I usually set the timer for 20 minutes to start with, and then check the cake every 2 minutes after that, until it's ready. At 20 minutes, the center of the cake is usually still quite jiggly; you'll know it's done when the center only jiggles slightly, if at all.)

Remove the cake from the oven to a cooling rack and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
Carefully turn it out of the pan and then flip it onto a serving plate, so that the crackly side faces up. Since the cake is fairly delicate, this can be tricky, but I've found that the easiest way is as follows:

Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan and place a large, flat plate—not the serving plate—on top of the foil, facing down. (A small sheet pan would also work.) Hold the cake pan and plate firmly together and quickly, carefully, flip them. The pan should now be on top of the plate, with the foil between them. Remove the pan, revealing the cake, which is now upside-down. Remove the parchment paper. Place the serving plate gently atop the cake. Wedging your index fingers between the plates to keep from squishing the cake, flip them so that the cake is now right side up. Remove the foil.

Cool completely and then refrigerate to chill thoroughly before serving, preferably with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Eaten cold, this cake is like an unbelievable piece of chocolate...OMG!

Molly's note: This cake can be kept at room temperature, sealed in plastic wrap, and kept up to 3 days, or it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. To freeze it, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then foil and it will keep for up to a month.
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