This past week I hosted a Girls' Night at my apartment. Brian was out of town, so it was the perfect opportunity to have the gang over. I love cooking for a big group of people for many reasons, with a major reason being (as some of the girls also pointed out) that it is way easier to cook for many than just one person.
When I first moved to Boston, I had my own apartment and I ended up eating out a lot. In part because my kitchen was definitely a converted closet, but more so because it's boring and not that easy to cook for just yourself. I ended up wasting a lot of food because what food-obsessed person wants to eat all four chicken breasts in one week? Sure you could freeze what you don't need, but I always forget to pull the meat out to defrost or just plain forget that it is even in there! Such a horrible waste of money and food! So what else is a girl to do with an empty apartment and full fridge? Invite all of the girls over, why of course!
Food and laughter are meant to be shared. You just look a crazy person if you are caught laughing to yourself. My great ambition is to create recipes so easy anyone, old pro or kitchen newbie, can have the confidence to cook for an audience. Thus preventing the crazy look with shared laughs over some darn good food. I firmly believe you can find out a lot about people over the course of a meal. I learned what kind of guy I did not want as a boyfriend over first date dinners; I met my lifelong girlfriends during lunch in highschool and college; and I learned a lot about my family from dinners with just my dad (some details may have been embellished but, man, are there some good stories). I wish I could share some stories from this past week, but #GirlCode. So get on your phone, text/call/email some folks, pick out any of the Belly Laughs recipes, and get your butt in the kitchen. I never regret my Girls' Nights... except maybe when I am hoarse the next day from chatting so much and my abs are sore from laughing too hard... but even then, totally worth it!
The girls and I capped off the night with a Flourless Chocolate Torte. It's a rich, moist, custard-like cake draped in a velvety and equally rich ganache glaze. It was so good and did not last very long. This recipe easily serves 8-10 (or one Katie Fitzpatrick), and is fool-proof. I embarrassingly do not have a springform pan in my Boston apartment, but my deep cake pan worked just fine (if you only have 2-inch deep pans, this recipe will fill one a half of those and you can stack the two!). The springform pan will make the sides of the cake much prettier for glazing. It is a seriously delicious dessert.
Recipe: Flourless Chocolate Torte
The Bits and Bobs:
1- 12 oz bag semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
6 eggs, separated
12 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the ganache glaze:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup corn syrup
9 oz semisweet chocolate chips
balsamic strawberries for garnish (see below)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch pan (springform or deep cake pan) and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. If using a springform, I recommend wrapping the bottom of the pan in a couple of pieces of foil.
Place a bowl over simmering pot of water and stir together the chocolate and butter until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (should come down to just above room temp so not to “scramble” the eggs).
In the meantime, beat the just the egg yolks with 6 tablespoons of the sugar until pale in color and very thick. This will take about 3-5 minutes with a stand or hand mixer. Mix in the vanilla extract. Fold the yolk mixture into the cooled chocolate. Clean the bowl and whisk of your mixer, and beat the whites for a minute or two, then gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar still beating until you reach medium peaks. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture. A few remaining white streaks is fine! You do not want to over fold.
Pour the batter into the buttered pan. Bake for about 45-50 minutes. The top will puff and crack; a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Cool completely. The cake will shrink back into the pan, so don’t panic.
Once completely cool, run a knife around the edges of the cake and invert onto a rack set over a sheet pan for the glazing process. Remove the parchment paper and prepare the glaze.
Heat the cream and corn syrup over medium heat until just simmering. Pour over the chocolate in a separate bowl and stir until smooth. Do not whisk or stir too vigorously to avoid any air bubbles in the glaze. Pour some of the glaze over the cooled cake as a “crumb coat” and put in the fridge or freezer to allow to set up slightly (5-ish minutes). Remove and pour the rest over the cake. Using an off spatula or a butter knife, push out from the center and around the cake in a circle motion to even out the top and aid the glaze in reaching all the sides. Allow to cool and set completely in the fridge (30-60 mins).
For the balsamic strawberries, slice up 6-8 strawberries. Sprinkle two teaspoons of sugar and a teaspoon or so of balsamic (this will be to taste). Stir, cover, and allow to macerate in the fridge. Serve a small scoop of the strawberries over the cakes. A nice acidic and fresh bite for the decadent cake!