for those who burn to learn


Apr 2016

Intensely Chocolate Flourless Cake for Passover

Posted by / in Holidays, Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /

My sister-in-law, Joanne, recently posted on my Facebook page that she would rather “pass over” the Passover meal  and head straight for my chocolate dessert.  It’s true that the Seder can be a long, drawn out affair, and particularly lengthy if the leader of the Seder insists on having everyone at the table take turns reading from the Haggadah in English and, when possible, in Hebrew. When I was a child, we used to drink a good amount of Manischewitz, lean to the left, wash our hands, and dip our karpas into salty water, but my father was one of the most considerate conductors of this ritual and, like Moses, he knew how to keep things moving and get us to the promised land: my mother’s feast.

I loved this dinner and, no wonder! My mother made everything from scratch, including the richest chicken stock for her matzo ball soup. She bought fresh ground carp and pike and whitefish for her delicate gefilte fish ovals and served the cold first course with a side of horseradish dressing. She grated the horseradish by hand and I witnessed firsthand the tears that flowed. The piece de la resistance, though, was her dessert: a sponge-like chocolate flourless cake, filled with whipped cream, powdered with cocoa and drizzled with  homemade hot fudge sauce.  Oh, what a sweet memory… It takes a lot of time to prepare this old fashioned feast and, today, most people are looking for delicious and reliable shortcuts. Fortunately, I know a great one for dessert. This intense chocolate cake takes very little time to prepare, does not need a frosting and, because it is flourless, is perfect for Passover. You can serve a small slice of this cake with a dollop of whipped cream and a side of fresh raspberries and everyone will think you slaved (pardon the expression) over it!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making and serving this cake:

1. Use a reliable 9×2 cake pan. I love my pan by “Doughmakers.” Make sure you prep the pan according to the recipe directions and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before flipping it over on your baking rack. Then ease the cake carefully onto your cake plate. 

2. This cake should bake for 40 minutes  at 300 degrees. You want the cake to be moist in the center. To be sure, insert your toothpick into the center and if it does not come out perfectly clean, be happy.  This is a good sign. 

3. It’s especially wonderful if you make it in the morning and serve it at room temperature later in the day. Don’t forget to sprinkle it with sifted confectioners sugar just before you bring it to the table.

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    Sep 2015

    Prune Plum and Pistachio Cake

    Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /

    Italian Prune Plums have a unique flavor when eaten raw, but they are most spectacular when baked. That’s when the color becomes brilliant and the fruit becomes jammy and the flavor intensifies. The small egg-shaped purple plums are hard to find in Maine and are only available in my neck of the woods for a few weeks in September. I usually find them at the Farmer’s Market and at the local grocery story. I love to turn them into prune plum sorbet or caramelize them and serve them in prune plum tart. I also love to add them to a simple coffee cake. There is one coffee cake recipe for prune plums that almost everyone knows and loves. You can find it In The Essential New York Times Cookbook. It is Marian Burros’ Purple Plum Torte recipe first published in 1983. The recipe is so simple and so good that many chefs have tweaked it slightly and then called the cake by a different name. Jody Adams, in her book: In the Hands of a Chef added a few twists to the recipe. She marinated the prune plums in brandy and sugar and she added lemon rind to the dough. She also added chopped, toasted walnuts. I like Jody’s enhancements but I wanted to add my own twist and substituted pistachios for walnuts. I think just about any toasted nut will work in this recipe so choose the one that most delights you. I also want to put in a plug for the Goldtouch non-stick spring form pan that I use whenever I make this recipe. The Goldtouch pan (which you can buy at Williams-Sonoma) is sturdy, beautifully made and you will never have to bother prepping the pan with butter and flour.  

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      May 2015

      Chocolate Dream Pie

      Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog, Recipes, WCSH6 /


      I adore chocolate cream pie, but it’s difficult to buy a really great one since the cost of chocolate is very expensive and many people skimp on the quality to bring the price down. I, of course, do not do believe in skimping. And I don’t feel guilty at all about this since I only make this pie on rare occasions (such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day). My mother and my Valentine both deserve the very best so I buy the best chocolate by the block (either Valrohna or Callebaut) and the best dutch process cocoa powder I can find. (Pernigotti makes a lovely one.)

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