The Recipe Writing Is on the Wall: Racines Cake

As my final Passover baking project (yeah, I know I'm a little behind in my blogging, given that Passover ended almost a month ago), I made David Lebovitz's "Racines Cake" from Ready for Dessert. As Lebovitz explains, the recipe got its name from the fact that he found the recipe on the wall of the men's room at Racines restaurant in Paris. Really.

In any case, the recipe is straightforward. You melt bittersweet chocolate with butter and brewed espresso in a double boiler, and add vanilla. The you fold in egg yolks that have been beaten with sugar until light and creamy, followed by egg whites that have been beaten with sugar to soft peaks. I  wasn't paying attention and overbeat the egg whites; they were at stiff peaks and a little dry. Still, I went ahead. I scraped the batter into a buttered pan dusted with cocoa powder, tossed on some cocoa nibs, and baked the cake until the center was just barely set.
I expected the cake to sink in the center upon cooling, both because the photo in the cookbook shows a cake with a sunken center, and also because that's what typically happens with these types of flourless cakes leavened with eggs (see, e.g., this chocolate-almond souffle torte). But my cake was level when it came out of the oven, and it stayed that way; I'm pretty sure my overbeating of the egg whites was responsible.

The texture of the cake was a little odd, which I also attribute to my error of overwhipping the egg whites. Cutting through a piece with a fork, it was not creamy as I would have hoped, but strangely reminiscent of a dry kitchen sponge. However, the cake did melt in your mouth. I wasn't a huge fan of the flavor -- it seemed a little flat to me. But it was popular with my tasters, and I can say without reservation that this is the best cake I have ever tasted where the recipe was sourced from a men's restroom!

Recipe: "Racines Cake" from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz


Louise said…
I think David's men's room story is funny as I can't imagine finding anything like that here. I made this cake several months ago and remember thinking that the flavor could vary quite a bit based on the brand of chocolate. I think I used Guittard. We liked it for a flourless cake, but for a simple cake I much prefer Maida Heatter's 86-Proof Cake, which clearly isn't suitable for Passover.
I used Scharffen Berger 62% -- since this cake doesn't have much sugar, I was thinking it would be better with chocolate that was less bitter. Did you cake sink in the middle?
Louise said…
It sank ever so slightly, maybe a 1/4". I'm pretty sure I used 70% Bittersweet, as I went for the chocolate hit. : ) I have Guittard nibs too as they sell them at the Mennonite store.