Adapted from 'Modern French Culinary Art by Henri-Paul Pellaprat
Pellaprat calls for apricot or peach brandy in his recipe. I didn’t have either, and Slivovitz worked well. I imagine Kirsch would also be delicious. His cake is coated in a chocolate fondant icing. This certainly would make a spectacular cake. It also would make the cake take approximately 5 times as long to make as to eat. I think the three flavors of butter cream (you flavor the rum butter cream along the way) make enough of a party. You will need to reserve some butter cream, with lots of chocolate added, to make a proper ‘Z’ on top.
Lastly, this cake, like so many, is so much better the second day. Please consider making it a day (or two!) ahead. Or at least squirrel away a slice to eat by yourself once everyone’s gone.
5-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, separated
10 large eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups ground almonds (I used almonds with skins)
1/2 cup Slivovitz
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup crushed Dutch rusks or zwieback crumbs, sifted
2 cups Rum butter-cream (recipe follows)
1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts
1 teaspoon instant coffee
- Preheat oven to 350°, butter a 9-inch springform pan.
- Grate 4 ounces of the unsweetened chocolate; set aside.
- Beat egg yolks until they are well-mixed. Gradually beat in the sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored.
- Add the 4 ounces grated chocolate, cinnamon, lemon rind, lemon juice, ground almonds, and Slivovitz to egg yolk mixture, and mix well.
- In a clean bowl, add the salt to the egg whites, and beat until they stand in soft stiff peaks.
- Fold egg whites into cake batter in three parts, alternating with the crushed rusks.
- Pour batter into baking pan, and bake in oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
- Once it is cooled, split the cake into 3 layers.
- Melt 1 ounce of remaining unsweetened chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
- Set 2/3 cup of rum butter cream aside. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining rum butter cream.
- Spread 2/3 cup chocolate rum butter cream over the first layer of the cake. Cover with second layer
- Spread the reserved white rum butter cream over second layer and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Cover with third layer.
- Add instant coffee to the reserved chocolate rum butter cream and spread it over the top and sides of the cake. Set aside a small amount to use to decorate the top of the cake.
- Chill the cake 1 hour for frosting to set.
- Melt remaining 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, beat into the butter cream you set aside for decorating. Pipe an ornate ‘Z’ in the center of the cake. If you can.
Rum Butter Cream
Adapted from Susan Purdy’s A Piece of Cake
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks; 1/2 pound or 230 grams) softened but not melted, cut up
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (3-1/2 ounces or 100 grams)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup water
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons rum
- Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until it’s soft and creamy. Set aside.
- Combine sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a small saucepan. Stir, then cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear.
- Raise the heat and start cooking down the syrup. While it’s cooking, wipe down the insides of the pan (with a pastry brush dipped into cold water) several times.
- Bring syrup to a gentle boil, and then boil without stirring for 6 or 7 minutes, or until it reaches 238°.
- While the syrup is boiling, put egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and beat with electric mixer for several minutes. The yolks should form a flat ribbon when they fall from the beater.
- As soon as the syrup reaches 238°, turn the mixer to medium-low speed and pour the hot syrup into the yolks an a steady stream. You need to direct the stream between the bowl and the beater, or threads of the sugar syrup will harden.
- Do not scrape the last bit from the syrup pan—it will be hardened.
- Continue beating the mixture until the bowl feels cool to the touch. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Stick your finger into the butter cream to test the temperature—it should be cool to touch, or it will melt the butter.
- With mixer running, add the butter 2 teaspoons at a time. It’s a bit like making mayonnaise. Keep adding the butter, beating after each addition. Once the last butter is added, beat 3 minutes more or until it’s smooth and fluffy. Beat in the rum.
Note: It’s not the end of the world if you end up with hardened threads of sugar syrup on the sides of your pan, as long as most of the syrup went into the egg yolks. You will end up with a winter wonderland effect, with icicles on the beater and side of the mixing bowl. Try not to cut your tongue on them.