“A TRIP TO THE MOON ON GOSSAMER WINGS. IT WAS JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS.” Cole Porter.
Angels in tweed? Well then how can they fly? This cake surely should have been named Chocolate Gossamer Angel Food Cake. Not at all like those sticky, chewy cakes you buy at the market. The texture of this cake is so light and silky; it just about melts in your mouth! Flecks of dark chocolate temper the sweetness. White chocolate pearls float atop a cloud of chocolate whipped cream. One bite is a trip to the moon on gossamer wings! And I will never go back! What is the key to this luscious, ethereal texture?
16 EGG WHITES!!!!
I actually purchased a carton of 18 eggs for this cake alone. (I see crème brûlée and zabaglione in my future!) But this felt more like a labor of love than a daunting task. And it just reinforces my belief that home made, especially when you use good ingredients, is always best. Here I used Callebaut dark chocolate for the ‘tweed’, Callebaut white chocolate pearls, Valhrona cocoa, and fresh cream (delivered by my milk man from South Mountain Creamery). The angels were definitely with me on this day!
Yields: 14-16 servings
Level of Difficulty: easy
CHOCOLATE TWEED ANGEL FOOD CAKE:
- 1 1/2 cups of caster sugar, divided
- 3/4 cup of cake flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 16 large egg whites at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
- 4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 2 ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate, chilled, finely grated, then refrigerated
You will need to use one ungreased, 10-inch two piece metal tube pan. And you will also need to have ready a long necked glass wine bottle (or similar structure that will fit into the opening of the tube pan) for inverting the cake right when it comes out of the oven.
Set your oven rack to the lower third of your oven. And preheat your oven to 350°F, at least 20 minutes before you are ready to bake.
In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of sugar, the flour, and salt until it is evenly combined.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Turn off the mixer and add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and whisk the whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and continue whisking on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the vanilla until combined.
Lightly sift the flour mixture over the egg whites, 1/4 cup at a time. With a large spatula, fold in the flour quickly but gently. You don’t have to incorporate every speck of flour until the last addition. Fold in the chilled, grated chocolate until evenly incorporated. Using a long, thin spatula or palette knife; spread a thin layer of the batter along the sides of the pan. This will help to ensure smooth sides when it is done. Empty the remaining batter into the pan. Run a small knife through the batter or tap the pan gently on the counter to prevent air pockets. Then smooth the surface of the batter.
Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes or until it is golden brown. It should spring to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center will have a few moist crumbs. During baking, the center may rise above the pan, but it will sink to almost the level of the pan when it is done. The surface will have deep cracks like a soufflé. Invert the pan immediately over the wine bottle, and cool, suspended over the counter for 1 1/2 hours. Loosen around the sides and core of the pan with a long spatula or palette knife. Remove the core. Use your palette knife again to dislodge the cake from the bottom of the core. Invert the cake onto a flat plate that has been covered in plastic wrap which you sprayed with cooking spray. Allow the cake to sit for an hour or until it is no longer tacky to the touch. Cover it with a dome or wrap it airtight. It will keep for 3 days like this at room temperature or 10 days refrigerated.
CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM:
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup good quality cocoa
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- white chocolate pearls to decorate (I found these, made by Callebaut, at Whole Foods)
Chill the mixer bowl and beater. Add the cream and vanilla and beat on low until the cream just starts to thicken. Mix the sugar and cocoa together and sift into the cream. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Cover the bowl and keep refrigerated until you are ready to frost the cake.
Using a long, serrated knife, divide the cake into 3 even layers. Set the bottom layer on your cake plate and place a couple of strips of parchment or wax paper under the edges to keep the plate clean as you frost. Spread about 1/2 inch of cream on the bottom layer. Gently place the second layer on top and repeat the frosting. Add the top layer and frost the top and sides. Sprinkle the top with chocolate pearls. To get the pearls to stick along the sides, pelt them against the sides of the cake. Remove the paper strips and chill until you are ready to serve.
This cake was just fabulous and I can’t imagine having any other type of angel food cake again!
The cake recipe is slightly adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I felt comfortable sharing it because it has already been made public by NPR with permission of the publisher.