I have a confession to make. You may find it shocking, but here it is:
I don’t crave chocolate.
I know. Unthinkable. Some of you probably just closed this window, never to return. At least allow me to explain the genetics that gave rise to this deficiency.
Growing up, my father was surrounded by chocolate fanatics: his siblings, his parents, every relative within a 50-mile radius. When it came to dessert, my grandmother’s attitude was, “If it’s not chocolate, why bother?” It could be chocolate-flavored dust and she wouldn’t care; it was chocolate.
And yet when presented with the choice of, say, chocolate or vanilla ice cream, my father would unfailingly choose vanilla.
My grandparents were baffled. How could this be? What kind of strange creature had they brought into the world? Sure, he was a straight-A student and destined to become a doctor, but then there was…this. My father, the vanilla sheep of the family.
And then one day he met my mother, who inexplicably also favored vanilla over chocolate.
“Imagine that,” my grandmother would tell her friends. “He found someone out there just like him!”
So I’m working with a stacked deck here. Don’t get me wrong: I love chocolaty things. Nothing beats a thick, moist slice of chocolate cake or warm, gooey brownies. And clearly I have a thing for chocolate pudding.
But sit me in a restaurant and throw a dessert menu in front of me, and nine times out of 10 I will make a non-chocolate choice. I really, really like chocolate; I just don’t crave it.
I do realize, however, that I’m in the minority on this one and that some people hold fast to my grandmother’s “if-it’s-not-chocolate-why-bother” mantra. So when my boyfriend and I had friends over this Friday, I decided to succumb to popular demand and make a chocolate dessert — a notable concession, since I had just made chocolate pudding the week before, which would do me on the chocolate front for a while.
I decided to go with the Kate Zuckerman’s Chocolate Bête Noire, a flourless chocolate cake that is one of the most intense chocolate desserts out there (they don’t call it the “black beast” for nothing). I guess I figure go big or go home.
This recipe is perfect for a dinner party because the batter can be made up to three days in advance and thrown into the oven just before your guests come. The result is a slightly warm, dense and creamy explosion of chocolate flavor, made more complex by the addition of a vanilla bean (adding stock to my belief that the addition of a vanilla bean will make anything taste better).
The chocolate lovers groaned with delight. I must admit, although I tend to find flourless chocolate cakes overwhelmingly rich, this one went down easy — maybe a little too easy, given the second slice I cut for myself and a few others…
My grandmother would unquestionably give this dessert her stamp of approval — and possibly a standing ovation. But always my father’s daughter, I couldn’t help myself: I served it with a fat scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. Genetics be damned.
Read Full Post »