nutmeg dusted bittersweet chocolate cake

October 13th, 2008 · 38 Comments

i have a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake, found years ago in a ny times sunday magazine, that is unbelievably good. if baked with all the best ingredients, it costs $40 to make and serves 20 generously, weighing in at over 2 lbs.

i rarely make it. and now there’s a good chance that i never will again…

because i’ve found a new chocolate cake. and it’s the one for me. as in forever.

except for one thing. and it’s a very funny thing. you see, the recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of butter. and i don’t know how it happened, but i used 16. yes dear readers, the entire package of plugra butter went into my cake. as in more than double the called for amount. hee.

i keep wondering how i slipped up. granted, it was the 5th recipe i’d made that day. so maybe i was tired – or perhaps even momentarily distracted. but somehow, regardless of the miscalculation it was ‘screaming crazy’ good. it was ‘call each other on the phone and talk about it the next day’ good. but now i’m thinking that this particular incarnation of my new favorite chocolate cake has sadly fallen into the ‘once a year only’ good category…

on the upside, at least now i have learned that 1 T butter = 1/2 an ounce…

new bittersweet chocolate cake
adapted from
alice medrich’s pure dessert

8 oz 70% bittersweet chocolate
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (i used 16, as in 8 oz. – hee)
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
scant 1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 1 T (1.2 ounces) all purpose flour
whole nutmeg for grating

position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350. line the bottom and sides of a 9" round baking pan with foil

place the chocolate and butter in a double boiler that is barely simmering and melt until smooth. stir frequently. when quite warm, set aside.

in a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla with a hand-held mixer on high speed until the eggs are thick and light colored about 2 minutes. whisk in the warm chocolate and then fold in the flour.

scrape the batter into the lined pan and spread evenly. bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. cool on a wire rack.

invert the cake onto a rack and peel off the foil. turn right side up on a cutting board. while still warm, grate liberally with the nutmeg.

there is something about a 9" round, single layer, simply adorned cake that appeals to my inner aesthetic. it feels elegant to me. and so although medrich offers this cake recipe as her "new bittersweet brownies", made in an 8" square, only suggesting as an afterthought the round pan with the grated spice, i for one, could not imagine serving it any other way…

the question is, when i make it again, i wonder how much butter i’ll use?

*authors note – i posted once again on thursday night smackdown while michelle is on a short hiatus. please
click on over and read about my foray into ‘cheater bbq’.

Tags: baking · chocolate · fish

38 responses so far ↓

  • 1 maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) // Oct 13, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    alright, is this NY times recipe a way to redeem yourself from the Fnetwork recipe? j/k. This looks really yum, though I am so sad I am not in nashville for the giada pasta. amazing.

  • 2 Robert // Oct 13, 2008 at 9:58 pm


    EXACTLY the problem with measuring…….

  • 3 maggie // Oct 13, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Usually when something is awesome, the secret ingredient is butter.

    I may need to make this. If you do it with less butter, can you let us know how it tastes?

  • 4 evil chef mom // Oct 13, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    god, do i hate math! something you might need to know when you bake. right?

  • 5 Traci @ Soup of The Day // Oct 14, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Wow, TWICE the butter? I bet that sucker WAS good :) If I make it, I’m using the 16 also!

  • 6 Julia // Oct 14, 2008 at 5:34 am

    I did the same thing once — making spinach pancakes and I used 1/2 cup sugar instead of 1/2 tsp. OOPS. Really changes the entire slant of the dish. I imagine your miscalculation was far more tasty than mine. :)

  • 7 ntsc // Oct 14, 2008 at 6:30 am

    ‘Use more butter’ J. Child

  • 8 amy @ minimally invasive // Oct 14, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Parapraxis, anyone? You claim to have problems with Paula Deen, but I think you’re harboring a not-so-secret girl crush. :)

  • 9 jim voorhies // Oct 14, 2008 at 8:47 am

    good thing you didn’t do that with the salt. :) sometimes measuring is good.

  • 10 Rachel (S[d]OC) // Oct 14, 2008 at 8:56 am

    How can anything with that much butter NOT be screaming crazy good?

    Your mention of the earlier cake reminds me of a not-quite-flourless chocoalte hazelnut cake I sometimes make that uses a pound of butter and 11 oz of chocolate. The first time I made it was for my grandfather’s birthday. People thought I was trying to kill him. He was in his 80s. At that age, I don’t think it makes much of a difference!

  • 11 Choosy Beggar Tina // Oct 14, 2008 at 9:15 am

    You made it with a 2:1 butter to chocolate ratio. That sounds like a slice of heaven to me. When I was young I was always awful at making cookies because I’d eat half of the creamed butter/sugar before adding the dry ingredients.

    And by ‘young’ I mean ‘the last time I made cookies.’

  • 12 Lauren // Oct 14, 2008 at 9:45 am

    i LOVE a good chocolate cake. but dare i compare you to pd with the overuse of butter? ;) never. it looks as screaming crazy good as it sounds.

  • 13 phillygirl64 // Oct 14, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I am half-tempted to make the same mistake… ;)

  • 14 Brittany // Oct 14, 2008 at 10:16 am

    double the butter is always OK in my book.

    mmmm. chocolate.

  • 15 Wendy French // Oct 14, 2008 at 11:38 am

    That sounds f’in incredible, Claudia. I’ve only just recently tried Plugra for the first time. There’s no turning back for me now.

    If Paula Deen got a mouth full of this stuff, her head would explode (might be worth looking into as she’s become an embarrassment to all southerners).

  • 16 Julie // Oct 14, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Well, damn, if I make this (and I’m certainly considering it) I’ll use 16 tablespoons of Plugra butter. And really, it’s not that over the top. I’m sure you got at least 8 slices from the cake, and that’s only two tablespoons of butter per serving, which for a dessert seems pretty reasonable.

  • 17 The Italian Dish // Oct 14, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    just…too…funny about the butter! (The cake looks wonderful).

  • 18 Donald // Oct 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Paula? :-)

    I like the 16 better than the 6. I’ll see if Beck will make this for me.

    And if she doesn’t, I’ll make it myself!

  • 19 lisa // Oct 14, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Good lord – (a) this cake looks heart-stoppingly divine (b) I linked here from “the pie lady” and actually snorted with laughter when I read your comment about the haircut guys! Nice blog :)

  • 20 Cheryl // Oct 14, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    My kids still talk about the blueberry coffee cake I accidentally made with 1/2 pound of butter instead of 1/2 stick. Years later, they still refer to it as “butter breakfast.”

  • 21 Lo! // Oct 14, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    … as if the idea of a flourless chocolate ANYTHING wasn’t enough, the nutmeg here takes me over the edge. Love it. And I’m guessing the butter was a good move… even if it affected the calories ever-so-slightly. LOL.

    And I love the name of your blog… glad I came!

  • 22 Marie // Oct 14, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    I can’t say I ever had chocolate on pasta, but this …. I would love!!!

  • 23 Heather // Oct 15, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Woman, how are you doing two blogs at once? With cake and everything? Put me to shame.

  • 24 Lesley // Oct 15, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Funny, I was just trying to figure out how many tablespoons were in my big ol’ block of butter just the other day. I’m glad you have already learned a lesson for me!

  • 25 noble pig // Oct 15, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    I love you.

  • 26 Nate // Oct 15, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    butter makes anything better, so this cake must’ve been the best cake on earth. It’s all good.

  • 27 joycooks // Oct 15, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Six T is not very much. it probably needed the extra butter. just my humble opinion. wish I had a piece of that cake right now!

  • 28 Lynn // Oct 16, 2008 at 8:15 am

    You’ve been taken over by Paula Deen’s demon…

    but it sounds spectacular. And I agree on the round pan…something about that that screams “I don’t even try to be elegant, but I am.”

  • 29 robin // caviar and codfish // Oct 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    8 oz of butter in a cake. There’s like 10 pieces in the cake right, so that like totally not a lot of butter per piece, right?


    Oh well, that’s what I’ll tell myself anyway.

  • 30 Kristie // Oct 16, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Whoa…did you just divorce a cake you had been faithful to for years just because a younger, denser cake came along? Because if so, you should know that sooner or later this new cake is going to start leaving its socks balled up on the bathroom floor and walking into the kitchen trimming its nose hairs and where will you be then? Huh?? Missing your old chocolate cake, is my guess.

  • 31 MangerLaVille // Oct 16, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    This sounds decadent and delicious. I love the addition of nutmeg. Freshly grated, ofcourse.

  • 32 Shari // Oct 16, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    16 instead of 6 tbsp of butter and it still turns out. This is a great recipe!!

  • 33 ponyboat // Oct 17, 2008 at 9:54 am

    OK forget the caramel cake for my birthday. This is the one!! No such thing as too much butter, just surprised (and happily so) that it didn’t screw up the chemistry!

  • 34 Kim // Oct 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I think I will have to follow in your foot steps and add more butter. I like the addition of nutmeg while still warm. I still think you are a good baker, Claudia.

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  • 36 cchiovitti // Oct 24, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Hmmmm, I wonder how well this would turn out with rice flour, xantham gum, and egg replacer?

  • 37 Maffy // Oct 28, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I was looking for a dessert recipe for halloween, and I think I found it…though I will have to be more conservative with the butter. I will let you know how the 6 instead of 16 works…

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