I’m a fan of writer Ann Patchett, whose book, Truth and Beauty, is one of my favourites. This week, thanks to the website, Brain Pickings, I came across a fantastic Patchett quotation that hit very close to home, especially the last line:
“The journey from the head to hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write — and many of the people who do write — get lost… Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words.”
The stark disappointment of words is something I know a little too much about. So often the idea in my head, which initially seems so good, so pure, so brilliant even, falls apart once I begin to try to assemble the words on paper. The beauty, the lustre, the incredible genius of the idea in my mind starts to disintegrate the moment I try to string the actual words together. Suddenly, my remarkable idea becomes frustratingly ordinary.
My hope is that the harder I work at it – the more I do of it – the closer final product will come to the vision in my mind.
Luckily, the same thing cannot be said for cooking. Not always, but often, the thing I envision cooking is as good or better than I could have imagined. Perhaps it’s because cooking and eating are such a multi-sensory thing. There’s the visual impact, the fragrance, the tactile experience of the texture and taste. And while we often lack the vocabulary to describe the density of flavour, the preciseness of texture, the subtlety of colour, the delicate or heady aromas – we seldom need the words because we create and enjoy foods without ever requiring the words that go along with the process.
Maybe, just maybe, this is part of the reason I love food and cooking so much.
This flourless chocolate truffle cake – or torte – is a fabulous example, the finished product is every bit as you might imagine, sophisticated, dense yet still light. a beautiful delicate texture, moist, rich, very chocolate-y, and not overly sweet. It’s simple to make. It’s perfect if you need a gluten-free cake. I’m not going to ruin it by saying anything further. Serve it in thin wedges with or without whipped cream.
Chocolate Truffle Cake
- 1/2 cup of butter or dairy-free margarine
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup almond meal (or finely ground almonds)
- 2 tbsp rice flour
Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment. Set aside.
Melt together the butter and chocolate chips over low heat or in the microwave on low power. When melted, stir in the coffee and cocoa powder. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, begin whipping the eggs, sugar, and salt together. I don’t have a stand mixer so I set the timer for 5 minutes and use my hand mixer. The mixture will lighten and increase in volume.
Add the chocolate mixture to egg mixture and gently combine. Fold in the almond meal and rice flour.
Bake at 350 deg F for about 20-25 minutes. I took mine out of the oven at 22 minutes but check this at 20 minutes. The top should be set and slightly risen but you want to remove this before it becomes overly cake-y. Don’t risk drying it out. In my oven – this takes about 22 minutes. Remove the pan and set to cool.
When the cake is sufficiently cooled, remove the ring of the spring-form pan. Invert the cake onto a flat plate or board and remove the bottom of the spring-form pan and then peel off the parchment. (If you scatter a few almonds on top before you do this – you’ll make the process even easier because you are less likely to have the top of the cake stick to the surface it is inverted on.)
Invert again onto a cake platter so that the top of the cake is now right side up.
Decorate any way you like – chocolate curls, fresh fruit, slivered almonds. Serve in thin wedges with whipped cream on the side.