Thursday, September 11, 2008
Ina's Simple Chocolate Cake
In general, I’m not enamored of celebrity chefs. However, there are a few people who I respect and whose food inspires me. One of those people is Ina Garten – some of you may know her as the Barefoot Contessa. I was first drawn to Ina’s desserts – they are delicious and simple, rich but not overpowering. I’ve come to find that she has many relatively easy dishes that make use of fresh ingredients and simple preparation. Unlike some well-known chefs, Ina does not fuss nor call for obsure ingredients (when she does she, let’s you know they’re optional). She also doesn’t “dumb down” the art of cooking. Ina has a great and inspiring story – she quit her job as a budget analyst in the White House and bought a small gourmet food store, the Barefoot Contessa, in the Hamptons. Incidentally, her husband Jeffrey was Dean of the Yale School of Management and still teaches there. For more about Ina check out her website.
Today’s recipe is a favorite from one of Ina’s books. It’s a quick, one-bowl, versatile chocolate cake that has only six ingredients (five of which you need one of, so it’s easy to remember). I generally don’t bother with the ganache frosting she recommends, which makes it even easier. A bit of powdered sugar or cocoa is a suitable (and more healthy) way to complete this dessert. Since it is no-frills, it’s best served with vanilla ice cream (or whipped cream) and fruit. Another reason I like this recipe is that it can be easily made with ingredients that one has on hand (just make sure you have a couple of tins of the Hershey’s syrup in your pantry). It’s easy to whip up when you have last-minute or unexpected company.
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 16-ounce can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
cocoa or powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325 F and butter an 8-inch round cake tin. Line with parchment or wax paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition.
3. Add the chocolate syrup and vanilla and beat again.
4. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don’t overmix.
5. Bake for 60 minutes or until just set in the middle. Don’t overbake, but make sure the center is firm to a touch with your fingers. Shake the cake gently and if the center jiggles keep baking it until it is firm.
6. Let cool to room temperature. Dust with cocoa, powdered sugar, or both.