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Musical pairing – Bells Are Ringing by Mary Chapin Carpenter
For more years than I care to admit, I’ve carried yellowing, smudged, brittle and torn recipe pages up and down the West coast, then to the Midwest – always tucked inside a bulging 3-ring recipe binder that is home to hundreds of other recipes I’ve collected over the years. Like old, worn, favorite toys scattered about in a child’s room, these recipes have been ripped from newspapers and magazines, scribbled on scraps and bits of paper, napkins, the backs of envelopes and, during those times I was organized, real recipe cards. Whenever I’m feeling nostalgic, I plop that 3-ring binder on the dining room table and pour over these old recipes until I find one that fits my mood as well as the occasion.
For many years, this dense, fudgy, chocolate cake was my ‘go-to’ holiday gift and was the very first cake I ever baked for The Professor; he had invited me to spend Christmas Eve with his family – as ‘friends’, of course – because we just didn’t ‘date.’ With Christmas music playing in the background, I stood in my small apartment kitchen, dressed in comfy sweats, stocking feet, hair pulled back into clips – first melting the chocolate and butter, then whipping eggs, baking soda and sour cream, then blending flour, psyllium husk and salt and finally easing the silky batter ever so slowly, into a buttered and floured silver Bundt pan. Once the brownie-like cake is cooled, I ribbon the glaze across the top, watching it slide as if a slow moving avalanche of chocolatey-goodness; when the glaze finally ends its descent, the cake has a whimsical look of a fancy, frilly skirt or ballerina’s tutu.
I’m always somewhat adventurous in perusing new recipes and often try several new ones each month – but there’s something comforting about pulling out old friends like these to share with those you love.
I’ve adapted the original recipe to make it gluten-free wondering if it would still taste as good as remembered . . . I am happy to report that yes, indeed my favorite chocolate cake is still dense, still fudgy, still decadent, still brownie-like and still absolute heaven.
Even better, it’s still a certain Professor’s favorite.
NOTE: I cannot stress enough how important it is to butter and flour the pan – use your hands to ensure you fill every nook and cranny so that the cake will release easily; additionally, I like to bake the cake the night before, let it cool and rest overnight (cover with a clean dish towel), then add the warm glaze the next day. You will be rewarded for your patience.
The cake also pairs quite nicely with a scoop of peppermint, egg nog or mocha chip ice cream or if you’re so inclined, a bit of brandy whipped cream. And it goes without saying that mornings never tasted better than with a slice of this cake and a cup of coffee!
Finally, using Port wine in lieu of vanilla enhances the chocolate – you don’t taste ‘Port’ but it adds a lovely complexity that is worth the swap.
GLUTEN-FREE SOUR CREAM CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE
Makes one, 9-inch Bundt Cake
FOR THE CAKE:
- 5 ounces unsweetened bar chocolate
- 1 stick butter
- 400 grams sugar
- 236 grams boiling water (1 cup)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2/3 cups sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons Port wine
- 280 grams gluten-free, all-purpose flour (your favorite mix)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground psyllium husk
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
FOR THE GLAZE:
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Port wine
- 2/3 cups powdered sugar
FOR THE CAKE:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Butter and flour Bundt pan
- In a heavy saucepan, melt chocolate with butter; stir in sugar and boiling water until mixture is smooth
- Transfer chocolate mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer
- Dissolve baking soda in sour cream and stir into chocolate mixture
- Add eggs and Port and process until eggs are blended
- Add flour, psyllium husk and salt; mix on medium speed until well blended – about 1 minute
- Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes or until cake feels springy to the touch and toothpick inserted into center of cake, comes out clean
- Cool 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely before glazing – it’s best if you can let the cake stand overnight and glaze the next day
FOR THE GLAZE:
- Melt butter with chocolate chips and whisk until smooth
- Remove from heat, whisk in heavy cream and Port
- Sift in powdered sugar and whisk until smooth and creamy
- Spread warm glaze over cooled cake and serve