Ah, the winning hearts and minds cake from Molly of Orangette. It has been a hit all over the blog world and I finally had an event worthy of this rich chocolate cake. We were invited over to celebrate with the in-laws for Marc’s birthday and it is also my brother-in-law’s girlfriend’s birthday. Was that too confusing? Her name is Megan and in a world full of cute things, she is just about the cutest. She has cool vintage flair and is warm and thoughtful. The fact that she and Marc were born at this time of year endears me to March. I was asked to bring dessert to the celebration and I knew what I had to do. A special chocolate cake was needed for two outstanding people that I am lucky to know. To personalize the cake, I was inspired by Shutterbean and cut out paper M’s and hearts and placed them on the cake before I sprinkled powdered sugar over the top.
I walked on the wild side and used a loaf pan instead of a cake pan because my cake pans are 9 inches and I worried that the cake would be too thin in the center. My gamble paid off and I love how pretty the loaf slices were with a dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream. The cake is dense and creamy in the middle and a bit crispy and crackled on top. I made a similar cake a while back, but that recipe had lengthy directions and required a bain-marie. It produced a solid cake that needed a warm knife to make perfect slices. I found Molly’s cake to be infinitely easier and all-around more enjoyable. You invert the cake after a short cooling time and this squished the cake a bit, but its imperfections were charming. This recipe is the kind you keep in your back pocket for when you need something easy to prepare, yet can impress a crowd.
Recipe: Gâteau de chocolat fondant de Nathalie or Winning Hearts and Minds Cake
Recipe from Orangette
7 oz (200 g) high quality semisweet chocolate (I used Callebaut)
7 oz (200g) unsalted European-style butter, cut into 1/2″ chunks (I used Kerrygold)
1 1/3 C. (250 g) granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 T. unbleached all-purpose flour
lightly sweetened whipping cream and powdered sugar for garnish, if desired
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and butter a 9″ loaf pan. Cut a piece of parchment to fit in the base of the pan, add the piece of parchment to the greased loaf pan and then butter the parchment.
2. Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate and add to a double-boiler (or heat-proof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water with the bottom not touching the water) with butter, stirring to combine with a wooden spoon. When the chocolate and butter has melted, use an oven mitt to take the bowl of chocolate off of the heat source and add the sugar. Stir well and set aside to cool for a few minutes to cool. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add flour and mix. The batter should be shiny and smooth.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 25-35 minutes. The top should be crackly and edges set while the center should jiggle only slightly. It will be very jiggly before the 25 minute mark. Set a timer for 25 minutes and check every few minutes. Mine was in for about 30-35 minutes because I wanted to make sure it was properly baked in the center and account for the thickness from using the loaf pan.
4. Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then carefully unmold the cake on a plate and revert it onto a serving plate, letting the crackly side show on top. Allow to cool completely. The cake will deflate as it cools.
5. Once cake is cooled completely, dust with powdered sugar before serving, if desired. Cut out fun shapes if you like to make the top more decorative.
6. Serve in 1/2″ loaf slices with a heavenly dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream on the side.
Consider making the cake one day ahead of time to improve flavor.
Below is Marc’s birthday turntable and Marc and Meg showing off how old they are. Despite appearances, Meg does not have three hands and needed assistance for 26.