I hung my head in disgust and shame despite the fresh baked smell of chocolate and peppermint. Every attempt to salvage the ugliness before me had failed. The expensive, pink artisanal marshmallows looked like melted mozzarella- good on a pizza, bad on a brownie, and the chocolate drizzle was more like a chocolate drench, muddying the already mystifying marshmallows.
The last feeble attempt- all natural sprinkles, as green as the many dollars needed to buy them, merely sank into the chocolate puddles. So alas, I left the warm brownies on the table, wrapped a bottle of wine and off we went to the Christmas Eve festivities. Failure has a way of kicking its boots around the kitchen every now and then.
This cake, however, was the redemption- a recipe seemingly designed to fail! How many times have I returned to the cooling rack in despair to see a sunken cake intended for layered glory. This chocolate cake recipe replies, “well, if there’s a chance it’s going to fall, why not just let it fall in the first place?” In general, this attitude might be a tad defeatist, but if you need an upswing, this might be the glass-half-full cake.
So nestle into those p.j.’s, ignore the cake on the cooling rack, and let those rich, chocolate layers just sink into crackly goodness. This was my sweet, chocolate redemption that turned Christmas Eve failure into Christmas Day success. The many happy mouths, with chocolate and jam still sticking to their lips, said this was my best cake to date!
Go out and fail!
Flourless Fallen Chocolate Peppermint Cake with Whipped Neufchâtel Topping
Adapted from Bon Appetit
About this Recipe: Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover in pan and store airtight at room temperature. The original recipe calls for a 9-inch springform pan. To make the layered version, I used a 6 and 7-inch pan. The 6-inch cake will require less baking time (~25-30 minutes), so keep an eye on it as it bakes.
1/2 cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter, cut into 1” pieces, plus more, room temperature, for pan
10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (61%–72% cacao), coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoon safflower oil (organic/non-gmo)
4 large eggs (organic/cage-free), separated
2 large eggs, whole
3/4 cup plus organic vanilla coconut sugar
2 Tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons organic peppermint extract
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Whipped topping (recipe below)
Bonne Maman cherry jam (optional)
Cinnamon sticks (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter springform pan(s).
Combine butter, chocolate, and oil in a large heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and heat, stirring often, until melted. Remove bowl from saucepan.
Separate 4 eggs, placing whites and yolks in separate medium bowls.
To the bowl with the egg yolks, add sugar, cocoa powder, peppermint extract, vanilla, salt, ¼ cup sugar, and remaining 2 eggs to bowl with yolks and whisk until mixture is smooth.
Gradually whisk yolk mixture into chocolate mixture, blending well.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until frothy. With mixer running, gradually beat in ½ cup sugar; beat until firm peaks form.
Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture in 2 additions, folding just until incorporated between additions. Scrape batter into prepared pan(s) and smooth the top.
Bake until top is puffed and starting to crack and cake is pulling away from edge of pan, 35-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan (cake will collapse in the center and crack further as it cools).
1 cup chilled organic heavy cream
½ cup Neufchâtel cheese
3 Tablespoons organic powdered sugar
Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream, Neufchâtel cheese, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.
Remove sides and bases of springform pans from cakes. Place the base layer on a serving tray. Spread a layer of topping, then top with the smaller cake layer. Add another layer of whipped topping, creating a crater for the jam. Dollop a spoonful or two of jam and smooth. Garnish with cinnamon sticks.