And it would have been a really cool present. He spends most of his life traveling around. Every summer he usually decides that he's moving to LA for good, and by December he is sick of LA and moving back to Europe. Every time he moves back to LA, he stays with us until he can find an apartment. And this was when I discovered that he likes girly smelly stuff. Because I walked into the bathroom one day and the air smelled like Origins 'Jump Start' shower gel. I mean, it's not weird. Just because it smells like flowers, it's not like it's women's UNDERWEAR or anything. But he's such a manly guy that I was confused. I called Alysa who was my boss at Origins when I worked there. "Oh yeah," she said, "the guys loved that stuff-- they'd find something they like and wouldn't care if it was for chicks, they would buy it every month for years on end. Girls are way more fickle than that."
I went to Origins to buy some for him. But it turns out they've stopped making it. I scoured Ebay to no avail and, while I was sitting in a dejected state, Simon mentioned the best chocolate cake he'd ever had, in New York. A salty chocolate cake, he said. One that he's thought about for years since first having it. The best cake in the entire world.
And then I thought that maybe a salty chocolate cake would be cheaper and easier to find than a discontinued product. Plus, if I made it good enough then I could replace the 'best cake in the world' (*snort*) with MY cake and then I'd be the best cake-maker in the world and then maybe I could sleep at night in complete contentment.
The recipe is barely adapted from Saveur (maybe they are the best cake-makers in the world instead). It's a chocolate cake that only has 2 tb of flour, so it's dense, like a baked chocolate mousse. I made a salted caramel custard to pour over the top, but I'm sure cream would be almost as fine if you're feeling lazy.
Please excuse my atrocious photos- I couldn't think of a single way to make brown cake and brown sauce look good late at night after a beer and a half. I regret it now. But you can pretend that it's gorgeous, for me, please.
Chocolate cake with salted caramel custard
For the cake:
14 1/2 tb high fat butter (I use Kerrygold)
3 tb flour (I use 3 tb gluten free flour blend + 1/2 tsp baking powder)
7oz bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
black salt (or any rock salt) for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9" cake pan, and dust with flour.
In a heavy-bottomed pan, over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together. When melted, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, sugar and egg yolks.
Whisk the egg whites to stiff-peaks, and then gently fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the cake pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the oven, and put on a rack to cool. Sprinkle with salt while it's still warm, if you're going to do that.
For the custard (which can be made while the cake is baking):
2 egg yolks
3 tb butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups cream
1/2 tb salt
In a saucepan, heat the sugar until it melts. This could take up to ten minutes. Stir frequently and keep heating until it turns golden caramel colour, and starts to smoke slightly. Immediately turn off the heat, add the salt and butter. It'll bubble like crazy. Don't worry, keep stirring. Add the cream. The caramel might harden, it's ok- keep stirring. If the caramel stays hard, then turn the heat back on and heat gently until it's melted.
Next, beat the eggs and egg yolks in a separate bowl, and add a cup or so of the caramel mixture, mix it together, then pour it all back into the saucepan together. Turn the heat back on, and heat gently, stirring constantly, until it forms a custard consistency. If not using immediately, it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.