Rare is the person who will turn down chocolate, molasses, or moonshine, so why not incorporate all three into one killer cake? This particular recipe (minus the sorghum, which is unique to Appalachia) is one I stumbled across almost thirty years ago while living in France, and have simplified to suit my preferences and to reduce dish washing. It is my little black dress of chocolate cakes, and always pleases, with a minimum dose of effort.
If you are a fan of frosting, try a ganache of melted chocolate and sour cream, or if you like extra bite, try a lemon-butter frosting with lots of grated lemon rind. I prefer simplicity, and serve mine plain or surrounded, as suggested below, with some fresh berries (whatever is in season) and drizzled with a little heavy cream (whipped or not). You can also place a leaf on the top of your cake and shake a bit of confectioner’s sugar through a sieve, removing the leaf to produce a perfect original pattern.
Ingredients and preparation
8-10 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate (Ghirardelli chocolate chips are my favorite)
1 cup sorghum molasses or brown or white sugar
1 cup butter
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon moonshine or other spirits (optional)
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring to keep from sticking to the pan. (Make sure the mixture doesn’t bubble, or the texture of your cake will be compromised). Meanwhile, beat the eggs together with the sweetening (sugar or sorghum), and stir in the spoonful of flour. Butter a cake pan and line the bottom with parchment to insure easy extraction of the finished product. (Butter the parchment as well.) Sprinkle sugar around the edges of the buttered pan and shake to achieve even distribution. (Turbinado sugar works particularly well here.) This will produce a caramelized crust surrounding your cake. Add a splash of moonshine or other spirits—or vanilla or coffee extract—to the chocolate mixture (optional). Stir the egg mixture into the melted chocolate mixture, moving rapidly to avoid chocolate scrambled eggs. Pour into your pan and bake for a scant half hour at 350°F. Unmold when cool and serve surrounded by raspberries and crème anglaise or topped with whipped cream.
Susi Gott Séguret, a native of Madison County, orchestrates a variety of culinary adventures, including a series of foraging-cooking-dining events called the Appalachian Culinary Experience. A fiddler, photographer and ballad singer as well as chef, she is the author of Appalachian Appetite, Recipes from the Heart of America. www.schoolofculinaryarts.org