Sunday, March 02, 2008


Many people who know him picture him with a cold Shiner Bock in hand, but there’s another side to the Grouchy One.

As befits the poster boy for the SRFA – the Snotty Rich Fucks of America – Denny sometimes reveals a more cultured side. That’s the Denny I see at our monthly Sommelier Guild events...and the Denny SWMBO and I saw yesterday evening at the Casa del Cripple.

The Missus and I were treated to a Gourmet Meal: crab cheesecake with mushroom sauce, baked Yukon Gold potatoes, and expertly grilled filets of beef. All of this was washed down with lashings of Domaine des Corbillières Touraine Blanc Sauvignon 2006 and André Brunel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Murets 2000 and 2001. Superb.

I had offered to bring some sort of ridiculous chocolate concoction for dessert, and Denny accepted. But what to make? I settled on a Rum Chocolate Dessert, a nearly-flourless chocolate cake that was invented by Craig Claiborne and subsequently included in a book by the legendary chocolate dessert maven Maida Heatter. I had made it once or twice before, many years ago, and remembered it as being rich but not overwhelming. Well, maybe just a little overwhelming.

How good is it? Why not make one of your own and find out?

Craig Claiborne’s Rum Chocolate Dessert


2 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp granulated instant coffee or espresso
5 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1½ sticks unsalted sweet cream butter (12 tbsp), at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
6 large eggs, separated
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup dark rum
4½ tbsp unsifted all-purpose flour


You will need a solid 8-inch diameter by 3-inch deep cheesecake pan. Do not use a springform pan.

Cut a round of wax paper or parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Butter the sides of the pan and butter one side of the paper. Put the paper in the pan, butter side up, and then sprinkle in enough flour to coat the buttered surfaces. Tap the pan over the sink to remove excess flour.

Set the oven rack one-third up from the bottom; preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift the flour and the sugar together into a small bowl and set aside.

Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water. Put the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot water and add the coffee-water mixture. When the chocolate melts, whisk until blended. Now whisk in the butter, a ½-inch slice at a time, until well-blended. Now, in three or four additions, whisk in the sugar-flour mixture. When it is well-blended, whisk in the rum.

In a large bowl, stir the egg yolks to mix. Then add a few spoonsful of the warm chocolate mixture and mix well. Then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Add the salt to the egg whites and, using an electric mixer, whip until the egg whites are stiff enough to hold a soft shape but are not dry. In three additions, fold the whites into the chocolate mixture.

Pour the batter into the pan. Now, set the pan in a larger pan and fill the larger pan with hot water until it comes up halfway to the top of the small pan. Put in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and carefully remove the smaller pan from the water bath; set on a rack to cool for at least an hour.

As the cake cools, it should shrink and pull away from the sides of the pan. If it does not, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to release the cake. Place a plate over the pan and invert. The cake should drop right out. Peel off the paper and then place your serving plate over the cake and invert. You now have a dense chocolate cake-like dessert with an intense rummy flavor. Hoo-hah.

Rum Chocolate Dessert
Rum Chocolate Dessert, ready for a big dollop of schlag.

At Denny’s, I made some whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream, 2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, whipped only until the cream holds a soft shape) and served a healthy dollop alongside each slice of cake, with a garnish of ground pistachio kernels. It was a dessert worthy of the meal that preceded it...

...and of the drinks that followed it. Delamain Vespers Cognac. Highland Park Single Cask single malt Scotch, 23 years old.

Good thing SWMBO was there to drive me home, I tell ya.

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