Bête Noire, MTN and chocolate cake

I am not sure why I do not use the internet more judiciously. I could argue that it is because my Mweb/MTN-3G/HSDPA connection has mostly been in a coma recently, but when I chose a name for my blog it was uncharacteristically operational, and hence, that would be lie.

Whatever. Point is that this morning I actually looked up “Bête Noire” for the first time in Wikipedia, (on someone else’s computer) and found an eclectic gathering under its umbrella. It was a ‘Word of the Day’ sometime in January, and I liked it a lot. It did not occur to me at the time, however, that so many others might also have found some use for it. It is a very sexy term, after all, AND French.

Even though I am a very big Brian Ferry fan, (well, from “Boys and Girls” onwards anyway) I did not know that Bête Noire was a Roxy Music album title. There is also an episode of NCIS called so, it is a song by the The Gutter Twins (no idea), and it is big in the world of the comic strip and the comic book: Bête Noire is the universe of Fallen Angel; the kitten in the strip Gordo by Gus Arriola; and it is both a comic book and a comic book anthology, according to my source of information.

Lastly, but certainly not least, La Bête Noire is a flourless French chocolate cake. One that appears to be both dangerous and delicious: the kind that makes your eyes roll back in your head with pleasure.

I might explore that comic strip thing at some other time. Today it is the cake that moves me, as I am desperate for an antidote to the mediocrity of broadband in this country.  Something delectable, dense, rich and obscenely chocolaty might just be the answer. I am very partial to chocolate cake. I make a delicious one with ground almonds (no flour) called a Gateaux Lawrence.  The recipe is further down. I thought I should include it here, as I have never made La Bête Noire, and the GL requires less than half the chocolate, which makes it a lot cheaper if you are committed to the good stuff.

The recipe below is from Epicurious.com. In case you don’t know, a “stick” of butter is 125g and a “tablespoon” weighs about 15g. Sixteen ounces are about 450g, so you need A LOT OF CHOCOLATE for this one. If you are going to use Lindt, Green & Blacks, Cote D’Or  or Woolies 70% dark chocolate, La Bête Noire will be a bit of a beast on the pocket as well. But it serves 16.

La Bête Noire

1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, diced
18 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
parchment round and tin foil

1. Prepare the tin: butter a 10-inch-diameter springform tin and line the tin with the baking paper. Wrap three layers of heavy-duty foil around outside of the tin, bringing foil to top of rim.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Combine the water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Melt the butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk the sugar syrup into the chocolate; allow to cool slightly.
5. Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Place the tin in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water  to come halfway up sides of the cake tin.
6. Bake until the center no longer moves when the tin is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from the water bath and transfer to a rack. Cool completely in pan.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Bring the whipping cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of cake still in the tin. Gently shake the tin to distribute the ganache evenly over the top of the cake. Refrigerate in the tin until the ganache is set, about two hours.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen the cake.  Release the sides. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

NOTE: Can be made two days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

(I am going to make this cake next time I win the lottery, and write a full report. In the meantime there is always…)

Gateaux Lawrence

180g chocolate
175g butter, softened
125g unrefined sugar
4 eggs, separated
200g ground almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 150⁰C
2. Prepare a 23-25cm springform tin – line the base and sides with baking paper
3. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie and leave to cool slightly (otherwise it is going to cook the eggs).
4. Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
5. Add the yolks, the chocolate and the ground almonds
6. Whip the egg whites till stiff, but not dry
7 Add the whites to the batter with a large metal spoon
8. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is firm and the cake pulls away from the sides of the tin.
9. Leave in the tin to cool for ten minutes before turning it out.

Melt 120g chocolate with 50g butter in the bain marie. Mix, spread over the cake and allow to harden.

Friggen easy. This cake is very forgiving, and almost impossible to fuck up. And you can almost make it in less time than it takes to download WordPress with a MTN 3G/HSDPA connection. Honest.


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