When we heard Jody Williams was a fan of KM, we were happy to welcome her to our office for a visit. Because we’re pretty smitten, too. What’s not to love about a chef who says, “I subscribe to the ‘super normal’ philosophy of food.” Her West Village restaurant, Buvette, exudes a similar ease, featuring lick-til-clean dishes that mix rustic French and Italian cuisines.
Between admiring a Japanese can opener and a pewter punch bowl in our studio, Jody shared a few recipes from her cookbook, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food (Grand Central). First up: her flourless chocolate cake, inspired by a memorable introduction to the confection in Paris many years ago. When asked about icing, she suggested a light and not-too-sweet mascarpone topping. And there you have it: dessert in eight ingredients.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for the pan
¾ pound (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
6 large eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar
Pinch coarse salt
1- Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan and set it aside.
2- Put the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a small pot of barely simmering water. Stir until completely melted. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool slightly.
3- Meanwhile, put the egg whites in a large mixing bowl, or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip, and whip until they form soft peaks. Add ¾ cup of the sugar to the egg whites and continue whisking until they’re shiny and stiff peaks are just beginning to hold. Set the egg whites aside.
4- In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ¾ cup sugar with the egg yolks until the mixture is thickened and pale yellow. Whisk in a healthy pinch of salt.
5- Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, one-third at a time, making sure each addition is completely combined before adding the next. Don’t be tempted to add the chocolate all at once – adding it in batches will help regulate the temperature of the egg yolk and keep them smooth and uniform. Carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, being as gentle and careful as possible so as not to lose any of the volume you have worked so hard to create in the egg whites.
6- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until it’s just barely firm to the touch and a paring knife comes out clean when you pierce the cake, about 40 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Note that although the cake will almost inflate and swell with air as it bakes, it will collapse and crack when it cools down. This is a good thing – beautiful even. And serving with mascarpone never hurts…
Whipped Mascarpone with Honey & Grappa
Not so much a frosting as a cream to serve on the side, this makes a delicious accompaniment to a simple cake, like the one above. Set the mix in a chilled bowl and let your guests help themselves to as little – or as much – as they like. Plus, it takes two minutes to whip up.
1 container (4-oz) mascarpone cheese (or sub with crème fraîche).
3 tablespoons honey (pick your favorite, I use either chestnut or thyme honey)
1 ounce grappa or liqueur, such as Amaretto or even Cognac
Mix everything together in a bowl and chill until serving time. It’s possible to over-mix mascarpone (like whip cream it will turn to butter) so be sure to just give it a few stirs and let it rest.
Excerpted from the book Buvette by Jody Williams © 2014. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
Leading image by Gentl and Hyers.