I’m not going to go into all the reasons chocolate is de rigeur on Valentine’s day. Chocolate = Love. And even though there are those who don’t like Valentine’s day, who doesn’t love chocolate? (Though curiously, I have a friend, from Belgium no less, that can’t stand the stuff. I still puzzle over this).
So–chocolate is a given. The question is, how are you going to have it? The tried and true methods–brownies, cookies, candies–are never going to disappoint, but sometimes a slight variation is in order. Maybe an exotic ingredient will do the trick?
Enter muscovado. There’s light brown sugar, there’s dark brown sugar, and there is muscovado sugar. The molasses flavor that makes brown sugar so delicious is surprisingly intense in muscovado. It’s probably fair to say it’s like brown sugar in 3D.
My husband’s birthday was this Friday, and he was just coming off of a busy period at work. And he loves chocolate. Marija at Palachinka recently made muscovado brownies, and I knew before I even finished reading her post that I needed to make this.
This cake is leavened with whipped egg whites, which is probably unusual stateside where we rely on baking powder to raise our cakes. (I find this to be more of a cake than a brownie, precisely due to the fact that it is leavened. Isn’t the brownie a happy accident in which someone forgot to add the baking powder?) I sometimes find that the beaten egg white method of lifting a cake results in a dry product, but here, probably thanks to the moisture of the muscovado (and let’s face it, a lot of butter) it was tender and moist. The muscovado and dark coffee are like the harmony filling out the chocolate melody–chocolate still takes center stage, but there’s an extra layer of richness and complexity to it.
A few notes, before the recipe: If you can’t find muscovado you can find it online or you can simply substitute dark brown sugar–it still adds something that plain white sugar does not. Don’t skip the icing–it’s incredibly easy. And if you refrigerate this cake, it goes from being light in texture to incredibly fudgy and more brownie-like; my husband likened it to the filling of a chocolate ganache tart.
Muscovado Chocolate Cake
7 oz dark chocolate
1 3/4 sticks butter
2 T strong black coffee
3/4c dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/4 tsp salt
Melt dark chocolate, butter and coffee in a double boiler (or carefully microwave on medium power, pausing every thirty seconds to stir). When melted, mix in half the muscovado.
Beat egg yolks with the remaining muscovado until pale. Stir in melted chocolate mix. Sift over flour and salt and fold in.
Beat the egg whites stiff and carefully fold in. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and pour the batter in. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
1 T heavy cream
2 oz dark chocolate
Melt muscovado and heavy cream in a double boiler (or microwave as above). Add chocolate and butter and stir until it’s melted and smooth. Let cool a bit and pour over the baked cake.