Swiss Chocolate Cake

August September 2010 514 
Easter just wouldn’t be the same without chocolate and here’s a moist and tender chocolate cake shared by Chef Axel Giese, the former pastry chef at the Hotel Storchen (see the post immediately below for more about the hotel) in Zurich.  Herr Giese was kind enough to share the recipe when I visited the hotel last September and I’ve been saving the recipe for just the right occasion.  Since the cake is made without flour or other starches, it would be also be a perfect dessert for a Passover dairy meal. 

The recipe is no more difficult than boiling water.  In the photo, Herr Giese masked the top of the cake with a little melted chocolate and served it with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and some whipped cream.  I think the whipped cream is indispensible, but you can omit spreading the top of the cake with chocolate as well as the sauce – the cake is quite chocolaty without them.

It’s time to look for the best quality chocolate you can obtain for this cake.  I love to use E. Guittard 61% semisweet for it, though a similar Swiss chocolate would also be delicious.  And if you find yourself in Zurich, stop by at the hotel for a slice…

STORCHEN CHOCOLATE CAKE

Adapted from Chef Axel Giese, Hotel Storchen, Zurich

Makes one 8-inch cake, about 10 to 12 small, rich servings

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces

12 ounces premium semisweet chocolate in disks or cut into 1/4-inch pieces

2 tablespoons Kirsch or dark rum

6 large eggs

One 2-inch deep, 8-inch round pan, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of parchment paper, plus a small roasting pan for baking the cake in water

  1. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
  2. Whisk the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add the butter and continue cooking until the butter has melted
  3. Off heat, add the chocolate and gently shake the pan to submerge it.  Wait a minute, then whisk smooth.
  4. Add the Kirsch and eggs and whisk until just mixed – avoid over whipping.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and set the pan in the roasting pan.  Pour warm water into the roasting to a depth of 3/4-inch.
  6. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until it feels firm and no longer liquid in the center when pressed with a fingertip.
  7. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven to avoid splashing hot water and set it on the stove.  Use a wide spatula to remove the cake pan and set it on a rack.  Let the cake cool completely.
  8. Invert a platter onto the cake pan, invert again and lift off the pan, peeling away the paper.  Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until serving time.  Serve wedges with a spoonful of lightly sweetened whipped cream.