Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On the hunt for that perfect chocolate cake...inspired by Chocolat.

Food‘nFlix
"Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village in the French countryside, whose people believed in Tranquilité - Tranquility. If you lived in this village, you understood what was expected of you. You knew your place in the scheme of things. And if you happened to forget, someone would help remind you. In this village, if you saw something you weren't supposed to see, you learned to look the other way. If perchance your hopes had been disappointed, you learned never to ask for more. So through good times and bad, famine and feast, the villagers held fast to their traditions. Until, one winter day, a sly wind blew in from the North..." * 


So sets the scene for our first foodie film over at Food 'n Flix...Chocolat!  The story of a beautiful, mysterious woman, Vianne...who travels with the magical Northern wind...blowing from town to town...dispensing her medicine to all who ail.  Treatment of choice?  Chocolate!  Vianne has a knack- a gift, if you will...of guessing your favorite.  Spin the disk and tell her what you see in it...reveal what's inside...reveal your inner feelings and desires.  The small village of Reynaud and the people who have lived there all of their life seemed to have fallen into a rut...life passing them by.  Vianne and her Chocolaterie Maya opened their eyes, their minds, their hearts...and awakened their desires...allowing them to begin to once again...experience life!


I love all of the characters...and actors that portray them...in the film- Dame Judi Dench as Armande, Johnny Depp as Roux, Lena Olin as Josephine, Alfred Molina as the Comte de Reynaud, Peter Stormare as Serge, Carrie-Ann Moss as Caroline, and of course...Juliette Binoche as Vianne.

Okay, I find myself getting sidetracked...I could interject little bits and pieces of the film and one would remind me of another...and I would never stop.  So, what I'll say is...if you haven't see Chocolat, I recommend you go out and rent it asap.  So, over at Food 'n Flix, we want to watch a film and draw inspiration from it and then bring to life in the kitchen!  Although I was inspired in so many ways, I narrowed it down to perhaps the simplest thing of all- chocolate cake.  Vianne serves a gorgeous chocolate cake...it looks moist, rich, and simple all at the same time.  Not simple as in easy...simple as in deceptively complex!  Watching a fork seductively slice in a steal a bite...it's obvious that this isn't just any old cake.  It's the kind of cake that makes you forget whatever it was that were thinking about  the moment you take a bite.  A slow smile plays on your lips...a dreamy look appears in your eyes...and a gentle hush falls on the room as conversation is all-but-forgotten until the last crumb is licked from the forks of all who dared a slice.  What?  You think that such a cake couldn't be good for your hips...that you definitely not even supposed to think about it in fear of the thought bringing on another pound? Well, in the words of Armande... "don't worry so much about supposed to."
Chocolat-inspired Chocolate Cake
w/ chile & espresso
adapted from this recipe
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) butter, slightly softened
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3 Tbs. Espresso (use 2 Tbs. instant espresso powder dissolved in 1½ Tbs.water if you don't have espresso)
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp.baking soda
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (plus some for dusting once cool)
1 Tbs. chile piquín
9 oz. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8" springform pan and dust it lightly with cocoa powder.  Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and very light in color.  Beat in vanilla and eggs.  
Sift together all of the dry ingredients.  Add the sifted dry ingredients 1/3 at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, beating thoroughly after each addition.
Pour into prepared pan, smoothing out the top as necessary.  Bake for 35-40 mins. or until it passes the toothpick test...with just a wee bit of wet crumb clinging to the toothpick when it's removed...it should still look the slightest bit moist in the cracks on top.

Let cool in pan on a rack for ~30 mins.  Remove from pan and transfer to serving plate.  When it is completely cool, sprinkle it with a light dusting of cocoa powder.
"Very good...but not my favorite."
I really enjoyed this cake...although it wasn't what I was exactly what I was aiming for.  This cake has a very "adult" taste...deep, complex, not-to-sweet.  The notes of coffee and the understated heat of the chile are actually my favorite aspects of it.  My oldest liked it...the two younger ones, not so much.  But I must brag about the palate of my daughter...only seven and already picking out the components that made the cake what it was... "It tastes like coffee...and chiles.  And you used that unsweetened chocolate, right?"  Very good palate indeed, young grasshopper.

I hope you join us over at Food 'n Flix...I'd love to see what you're inspired to make from the films. Chocolat will be playing through the whole month of September (details on how to enter can be found there)...and check out the Coming Soon wall to find out which flick we'll be cooking from next month!

*All quotes taken from the film Chocolat

~This is also my entry into this month's Culinary Smackdown Battle: Chocolate!
BYOB