One benefit of moving to a new place is that practically no one here is familiar with my food. Which means, when I do cook, I can share some of my old favorites with new friends without being on repeat.
A few weeks ago, we had our first family dinner date. I was super excited. I am always thrilled to receive invites to someone’s home for a meal. It means so much to me, to have another person cook for you. A homemade meal is one of the best gifts ever.
To show my gratitude, I contributed to the dessert. You can imagine my happiness when I got to break out one of my old fallback favorites: Molly Wizenberg’s Winning Hearts and Mind Cake.
Molly is pretty famous for this cake. She wrote this recipe up in 2004, and it’s been made famous on her blog, her book, other people’s blogs and many-a-kitchen. There’s a reason why this simple chocolate cake is so popular.
It’s sinfully rich. Wonderfully decadent. Oh, and did I mention, super easy to make?
Sliced up into generous wedges, this stunning little cake looks fancy for any dinner party. I would know, I’ve made it for my fair share of gatherings. Practically everyone I have ever known has eaten a piece of this chocolate masterpiece. In 2009 alone, I probably made over 50 of these cakes. Seriously.
It’s so easy and so impressive, I even taught a group of 12 teenage girls to make it for a dinner fundraiser we were having at our church. Each of them made their own cake and brought it that evening for the dessert portion of the night. Not all of them followed the steps perfectly –one girl accidentally used waxed paper instead of parchment. I can bet some of them were too impatient to also add the eggs one at a time. Despite the liberties taken, the cakes still turned out perfectly delicious. We raised a lot of money for their church camp that night.
Besides teaching the girls at my church, I have made this cake so much over the years. I think it’s become a tad tiresome. Not for me (I’m such a fan, I could eat it for breakfast), but for others who have to eat it when I bring it.
Like, oh look. Here’s Veeda again with her little chocolate cake. Yes, I’ve made this cake so much that I’ve become known for it. “Winning Hearts and Minds” was a little too long for me to say, so I just referred to it as a Chocolate Torte Cake.
I always attribute Molly for this recipe though. Because her version is an adaptation of another person’s recipe, it’s kind of funny that my adaptation of her cake is known as my cake in my little part of the world.
Because of the Chocolate Torte Cake overkill of 2009, I’ve let this recipe slowly faded from my repertoire. But now, in a new place, with new people — voilà! It’s like falling in love with a new recipe all over again.
My adaptation only slightly varies from Molly’s. The instructions are simpler. The ingredients a little more pedestrian. Semi-sweet chocolate chips are okay to use, but of course a higher quality chocolate will be much better. I love using dark chocolate (Ghirardelli is a great easy to find choice) and dark chocolate cocoa powder instead of flour. The cake is super decedent this way, but any chocolate will do.
This is the version I typed up for my girls to cook. Like I said, I went simple here. There is no no need for a double boiler, or a sauce pan with simmering water (because teenagers can start to lose focus when you say things like, “double boiler” or “slow simmer”). I just had them melt the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave (saying “microwave” makes 16-year-olds think, “Hey, I know how to do that!”).
If a bunch of giggling girls can make this cake, I know anyone can too. And yes. I’ve already made it three times since I’ve been here.
Chocolate Torte Cake
adapted from Molly Wizenberg
7 oz. or 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
7 oz. or 1 3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (or substitute with cocoa powder for a gluten-free version)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper as well.
Next, place the chocolate chips and butter in a large glass or microwave safe bowl. Microwave till the butter is melted, about one minute to one minute and a half. Stir the melted butter with the chocolate, whatever chocolate isn’t melted in the microwave will melt from the hot butter.
Once the chocolate and butter is all melted and stirred together, add the sugar. Continue to stir till mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time. Finally, add the flour or cocoa powder. The cake mixture will be smooth.
Pour the batter into the buttered pan and cook for 20-25 minutes. I like the cake slightly more firm, so I keep mine in for at least 25 minutes. Prick the cake with a toothpick, moist crumbs should cling to the toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is overdone.
Remove from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges and flip the cake onto a plate. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom. Then flip back on another plate so the top is right side up again. Once the cake is cool, serve at room temperature with a dusting of powder sugar or sweetened whip cream. Patience can be a virtue with this recipe, while great served the day of, it’s even better once it’s been refrigerated over night. Just bring back to room temperature and enjoy it’s fudgy goodness.