So I'm in a bookstore the other day, casually browsing the food section, thinking to myself, "I own too many cookbooks. I should get rid of some of the crappier cookbooks that I have before I buy another cookbook. I'll just look." Well, I opened Rose's Heavenly Cakes to the page of the Chocolate Tweed Angel Food Cake, and, well, I lost control. I already own her The Cake Bible so I didn't need to look at a single other recipe. I bought it. Full price (yup, ripoff - buy it at Amazon and pay half what I did). But I needed to make that cake for my wife that very evening. And I did.
1 ½ cups superfine sugar¾ cup cake flour¼ tsp salt16 large egg whites at room temperature2 tsp cream of tartar2 oz unsweetened, 99% cacao chocolate
First things first, grate 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate. I used Scharffen Berger's unsweetened, and grated it with my Microplane Grater/Zester. (Actually, the Microplane Zester belongs to my 3 ½ year old. When he was around 2, Dr. Ricky from The Doctor on Food came to visit and was surprised to find we didn't have one, so he purchased one for us and handed it to our son and told him it was for him. From then on, whenever it came out, my son would call out, "That's my Microplane Zester!" Indeed, I find it often goes more smoothly if I ask permission to use it.) Okay, so grate your unsweetened chocolate, and toss it in the fridge.
Sift together the flour, half of the sugar and the salt. Set aside. Sift the other half of the sugar into a separate container, and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. The main trick with angel food cakes is to make sure your mixing bowl is clean (i.e. no traces of fat in there that would mess up your ability to beat the crap out of some egg whites). The other trick is to ensure that you don't get even a tiny bit of egg yolk in the egg whites. I break my eggs and separate the egg whites into a mug. This is a trick my Mom taught me. That way if you get a tiny bit of egg yolk into the whites you only ruin *one* egg white, not the whole batch.
Beat the egg whites...
Add the cream of tartar, and beat until the eggs make light peaks.
Slowly beat in the sifted sugar until you get very stiff peaks.
Clearly, I got out of hand. Because I took...
... loads of photos of these cool-looking egg whites.
Add the vanilla.
Beat in the vanilla.
Using a flat whisk, gently fold in the flour/sugar/salt mixture, ¼ of the mix at a time. The trick is to be gentle, and not disrupt the beautiful fluffiness of the egg whites. After you've mixed in all of the flour mix, gently fold in the grated chocolate.
Once folded in, pour the entire mix into a 16 cup Bundt pan. You needn't grease the pan for angel food cakes. Move a knife through the batter to get out any bubbles, then flatten the surface. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (this cake took me 45 minutes at sea level). Immediately remove the cake from the oven, and invert the pan. My Bundt pan has a long enough tube in the middle that I can set it upside down on a cooling rack and the cake is suspended above the rack without touching it. The author suggests placing the tube over a wine bottle, but I've never managed to figure out how to do that. Perhaps I need a better Bundt pan. Regardless, cool the cake upside down until it comes to room temperature. Then, run a knife around the outside of the cake and the inside of the tube, and slide the cake out of the pan gently.
It'll look delicious.
Quite honestly, you could stop here and serve it. You'd probably get rave reviews. But if you finish the last steps, you get the BIG WIN.
Chocolate-spangled whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream2 tbsp superfine sugar1 tsp pure vanilla1 cup grated dark 60% bittersweet chocolate½ cup finely ground almonds
Toast the almonds in a pan before grinding. You want to toast them just long enough to darken them and make them smell nice. Then run them through the grinder and measure ½ cup.
Beat the cream, sugar and vanilla until it makes nice peaks. Fold in the chocolate and the almonds.
Slice the cake into 3 layers. Slather the whipping cream mix between each layer, and assemble.
Just a thin layer of whipping cream is sufficient.
Now dress the outside of the cake.
Watch as the crowd *raves* over this cake. Crazy good.