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Chocolate Apricot Soufflé Cake
By Charlie Burke

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This is Joanne’s favorite cake, and she has been making it for the holidays and
special occasions for many years. She has the recipe written on old index cards
and thinks she found it in a magazine or newspaper over twenty years ago, so its
provenance is unknown. It is spectacular when brought to the table, and it has
complex flavors without being overly sweet. For those with gluten intolerance,
here is an intensely rich flour-less cake which will be the hit of any party.

Although it has several steps, Joanne considers it a fairly easy recipe. It can be
baked a day ahead and refrigerated, with the topping being added an hour or
two before serving. I asked her why we see it only once or twice a year on special
occasions, and she replied that if she served it more often it would lose its
mystique!


Cake, 10 servings:

½ cup dried apricots
Butter for the cake pan
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate melted, and
cooled to lukewarm
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 ½ teaspoons water
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Cream Topping

2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
7 dried apricots
7 whole walnuts

For the cake:
Soak the apricots in hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain them and coarsely
chop.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-diameter spring pan (2 inch
high sides). Line the bottom with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer cream ¾ cup butter with ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, blending
well after each addition. Blend in the melted chocolate and coffee and stir in the
chopped apricots and walnuts. Using clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites
until peaks begin to form. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup plus 2
tablespoons of sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg
whites into the chocolate mixture, folding half at a time. Pour the mixture into
the prepared spring pan.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean – approximately
one hour. The surface of the cake will crack during cooking.

Cool cake completely in the pan. The cake will fall and look quite ugly. Run a
sharp knife around the edge of cake. Invert the cake onto a plate and remove the
spring pan and parchment paper.  

For the garnish:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt the 6 ounces of chopped chocolate
in the top of a double boiler (or put a metal mixing bowl over a sauce pan) over
barely simmering water, stirring until the temperature registers 115 degrees on a
candy thermometer. Dip one apricot halfway into chocolate and shake off excess
chocolate. Set the apricot on the waxed paper and repeat with the remaining
apricots. Refrigerate until the chocolate sets, approximately 30 minutes. Place the
remaining chocolate on a piece of waxed paper and spread it thin. Refrigerate
the chocolate until firm and then snap the chocolate into large, irregular
geometric pieces;

For the topping:

Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla in bowl until soft peaks form. Put the
whipped cream in a strainer over a bowl and let excess liquid drain from cream.
(1 hour). Spread the whipped cream over the top of cake and place the chocolate
apricots around the cake, alternating with the walnuts. Place shavings on edge
around the cake. The topping can be put on the cake up to 2 hours before serving.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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