Sunday, August 19, 2018

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Be prepared to have leftover egg yolks.  Fortunately, I was going to make some lemon curd anyway.  If I make this again, there will be a new ice cream flavor.

This is that frosting that feels like it's made with whipped cream.  Soft and silky, ridiculously pipeable, and not quite as sweet as a regular buttercream.

Older cookbooks and your grandma's recipe box call this seven-minute frosting, because it takes about seven minutes of whipping the meringue for it to cool to room temperature.  You start by heating the egg whites and sugar to about 160º over a double boiler.  This melts the sugar and semi-pasteurizes the egg whites.  If they were completely pasteurized, they wouldn't whip.  Then you let them cool down as they're being whipped into meringue (over a bowl of ice water if it's a very hot day) before beating in the butter and extract.

And that's it.  Not as temperamental as an Italian buttercream (boiled frosting), you just have to keep stirring over the water bath so you don't make an egg white omelet in step 1.  Any lumpy breakage after the butter is incorporated can be fixed by continued whipping.  And whipping, and beating, and more beating.  Seven minutes, my butt.

This version is from The Pioneer Woman because it was the smallest yield I could find and I only made a 2-layer, 6" cake, plus this wasn't the filling.  There are larger recipes out there, including the 7 egg-white recipe that I nixed because it used a prime number of eggs.  This one has round numbers that can be doubled or halved with minimal baking math.  The yield was enough for a crumb coat and a really thick layer of decorating.  And I probably had enough scrapings left that I could have filled the cake with it after all.  If you're making a less ornamental cake, it will likely do an 8", 2-layer.

You may notice the Passover label on this recipe.  Unlike other frostings I've used, this one does not rely on powdered sugar.  You do need to check the vanilla extract for a KLP designation, or make vanilla sugar ahead of time with a whole vanilla bean.  Next up, finding a Passover cake recipe that doesn't suck.  My birthday falls during the holiday about a quarter of the time, so this is a lifelong struggle for me.

4 egg whites
1-1/2 C granulated sugar
1-1/2 C (3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract, or more to taste
pinch of kosher salt

1.  Set up a saucepan with 2" of water in it over medium-low heat to a light simmer.  NOT a full boil. Over it, set the bowl of the stand mixer and make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.

2.  Whisk together the egg whites and sugar to combine.  They're going to be very thick and grainy.  Whisk the mixture lightly but constantly as it heats to 160º.  Scrape the sides of the bowl often.  This is going to take a minimum of 15 minutes.  When ready, you won't be able to feel any sugar grains when you rub some between your fingers.
3.  Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium-high until room temperature.  It was a warm day, so this took more like 20 minutes and was aided by a bowl of ice water under the mixer.  In the winter, you can do it in seven.  While that's going, start softening the butter to room temperature as well.  Do some dishes, stretch out the shoulder you got sore by all that whisking, etc.
4.  When meringue is ready, switch to the paddle and start dropping in the butter one tablespoon at a time.  If the butter and meringue are the same temperature, it will mix in fairly quickly.  When one is warmer than the other, it may get clumpy.  Just keep beating it if that happens, and it will eventually mix in properly.  Beat in vanilla and salt to finish.  If it gets soupy, put it in the fridge for two minutes to firm up the butter, then paddle it again.

5.  The finished frosting can be used immediately, or refrigerated for later.  If refrigerated, it should be left at room temperature for an hour and then beaten back into softness.  Once on a refrigerated cake, let it come back up to room temperature for a minimum of an hour before serving.

Makes enough to frost and fill one 8" layer cake

Difficulty rating  :)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Strawberry Cake (frozen fruit)

Comparing this recipe from NPR to the one I used for the blackberry cake, I immediately saw the difference in the amount of moisture.  It doesn't reduce the purée, and there's quite a bit of it in there.  What I did was thaw the whole bag, but only run the juice and enough berries to make the 5 ounces by volume.  That saved the rest of the bag for filling.  Plus, it uses extra oil and an egg yolk to replace butter.  I've been spending so much on butter.  Surprisingly, not on cake flour.  One box has gotten me through all these projects so far, and I may have enough for the last cake.  Yes, I'm making small cakes, but I really thought I would need more by now.

(Oh shoot, I'm going to have to make a grocery list before I travel to Virginia.  Adding together all the amounts for all the cakes, their fillings, and frostings.  That's going to take at least an hour.)

The published version was already a half-recipe.  It was intended to be 12 cupcakes, which is half a standard layer cake recipe.  Happy me, I didn't have to do any math!  If you're doing two 8" layers (or 3 thinner layers), just double this.

This is still the reverse creaming method, only with just oil.  It must be a thing for fruity cakes.  And I just realized this cake is dairy-free.  The frosting won't be, but you can't win them all.

10 oz bag frozen strawberries, thawed (put in fridge the night before)
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
pink food coloring (optional)
1-1/4 C cake flour
1 C sugar
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C vegetable oil

1.  Run enough of the thawed strawberries and their juice through the blender to get 1/2 C plus 2 Tb of purée.  If you have a use for more, go ahead and whir up all of it.  A double recipe is a full bag.  Grease two 6" cake pans, a square 8" pan, or one deep 8" round pan.  Line with wax paper, then grease again.  Preheat the oven to 350º.

2.  Mix together the eggs, vanilla, and the 5 oz purée in a small bowl.  For a richer color, add a few drops of pink gel food coloring.  Natural strawberries won't have that super-pink-ness you get when you use Jell-O.  I was unimpressed with my mixture until I realized I'd forgotten the coloring.  It makes a difference.

3.  In a mixer with the paddle, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
4.  Add the oil to the dry mix and beat on medium for 2 minutes.  It's going to look like sugar-cookie dough.  Don't panic.  Scrape the bowl and add 1/3 of the strawberry mixture.  Beat for 20 seconds.  Repeat until all of the strawberry is incorporated.  Now it will look like a regular cake batter.
5.  Pour batter into cake pans.  (Or you can make the original 12 cupcakes.)  Bake for 30 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test.
6.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out, peel off paper, and cool completely before frosting.  I may not have mentioned this, but I cool my cakes upside-down because I'm going to trim off the top when I level them anyway, so it doesn't matter if they get rack impressions, and the top crust is stronger than the crumbly bottoms.  If you're serving an untrimmed cake or they domed excessively, cool them right-side up.  If not frosting that day, wrap in plastic, then foil, and freeze.

Makes 12 cupcakes, 2 6" layers, or one thick 8" layer

Difficulty rating  :)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Cherry Oven Pancake

This has been a good year for cherries.  I bought too many because they were cheap and looked good, and I'm still resisting the urge to make jams until I finish last year's.  So, pancakes.

I could have made a clafoutis, but this has fewer steps.  It's just the Oven Apple Pancake with cherries instead, and scaled down to two servings.  I had it for breakfast, but it would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.  In that case, you would serve four.

*1 C pitted cherries
1 Tb butter
1 Tb brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 C milk
dash salt
dash nutmeg
2 tsp sugar
1/3 C flour

1.  Melt the butter in a 6" oven-proof skillet and start preheating the oven to 400º.  Cook the cherries in the butter over medium heat until they soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in brown sugar and reduce heat to a simmer while you make the pancake batter

2.  Beat together eggs, vanilla, and milk until combined.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, nutmeg, and granulated sugar.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until no large lumps remain. Let it sit five minutes, then get out the rest of the lumps.

3.  Pour the batter over the cherries and put the pan in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, until the edges are crispy and the center is set.  Serve hot, dusted with powdered sugar or a scoop of ice cream.

Serves 2 as breakfast, 4 as dessert

Difficulty rating  :)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Blackberry Ombré Cake

This is more my style of decorating.  I like clean, classic lines.  That's why I find fondant so attractive, despite its taste.  Then I started practicing with pastry tips and ruined my original design.

Ombré is a decorating technique where you use multiple colors, but there is no sharp line between them.  They're blurred together.  They can be horizontal, vertical, spots, etc.  For cakes, the easiest gradient is horizontal.  I chose to to depth of a single color, but you can do any colors you want.  A rainbow can be ombré.  In fact, real rainbows don't have distinct separations of the colors, so that's a good example.

In addition to being in real contention for the wedding cake design, this one marks my move into piping the decorations.  I picked up a #1A tip, which is just a half-inch round, to make laying the rings easier.  In videos, it gets a lot of use piping in fillings and the top.  For the pearl border, I switched to a #7.  You press, release, and pull back into a teardrop.  Set the tip near that tail and repeat until you've gone around.  There are more intricate borders that use similar techniques, but this cake was supposed to be about elegant simplicity.

I learned a lot with this cake.  So far, most of what I've been doing has been a success on the first try.  That's not how you learn.  There were supposed to be three colors of icing, but adding more frosting to the darkest color didn't work with purée in cream cheese frosting.  Now I know to start with a larger batch of the lighter shade and break it down into darker ones as I go.  I wasn't happy at all with the texture of the cake, and cut my thumb trying to even the top because it was so tough.  And I played with enough pastry tips to know that too much embellishment really does look tacky.  But what else am I going to do with 1/4 cup of blackberry-flavored cream cheese frosting?

1 Blackberry cake
1 batch pipeable cream cheese frosting
1 C fresh or defrosted blackberries
additional blackberry purée and/or food coloring

1.  Trim cake layers even.  Place a small dollop of cream cheese in the center of a cake circle to secure the bottom layer.  Center one on it right-side up.
I was trying a swirl thing with the filling that didn't work.
2.  Pipe on a layer of plain cream cheese frosting, then dot with reserved blackberries.  Save a few to decorate the top if you'd like.  Place the top layer of cake upside-down, so the bottom is your even top of the cake.  Crumb-coat the cake with uncolored frosting.  Chill to set the icing for at least 20 minutes.
3.  Color 1/2 C of frosting in your darkest shade, then another 1/2 C in a lighter shade.  The remainder will stay the original color.

4.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip with the darkest shade of frosting.  Pipe a round or two around the bottom third of the cake.  It doesn't have to be even, and it's ok if there are small gaps.  Fill the bag with the middle color and continue.  You don't have to wash out the bag for this transition.
5.  Switch to a clean bag and fill with the uncolored frosting.  Pipe the top third and the top of the cake.

6.  With an offset spatula, even out the top of the cake to make sure you used enough frosting.  Then get out a bench scraper and hold lightly against the vertical it while you turn the cake turntable.  The piping lines will start to disappear.  Wipe off the scraper and continue until the sides of the cake are smooth and the piping lines are blurred.  Use the offset spatula to clean up the top edges.
7.  You can stop there, or use some of the icing you've scraped off to decorate.  I should have stopped with the pearl border at the bottom and a berry on top.  It's up to your personal style.

8.  Since this is cream cheese frosting, keep cake refrigerated.  You can get it out an hour before serving to soften.

Makes one 8" layer cake

Difficulty rating  :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Pipeable Cream Cheese Frosting

A lot of berry cakes (and red velvet) call for cream cheese frosting.  Decorating with it can be difficult because of its consistency.  Half the time, you're lucky it doesn't slide off the cake.

My Cake School came up with a sturdier version that's still creamy.  It isn't so dry that it crusts over, but it won't melt too quickly in warm weather.  It also isn't overly sweet.  And it whips up in minutes.

It's tempting to use margarine or shortening with this, but then you'll get crusting and it won't firm up in the fridge.  It's also tempting to get reduced fat or whipped cream cheese.  This recipe is only going to work if you buy bricks.  If you want to pipe this onto the cake, you're going to have to do it as written.

1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 8oz packages cream cheese, cut into 1/2" slices
3 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

1.  Beat butter until smooth.  Beat in cream cheese until everything is smooth and lump-free.

2.  Slowly beat in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Once partially incorporated, whip until fluffy.  Color as needed with gel or powder coloring.

3.  Fill piping bag halfway and decorate cake.  If frosting starts to get too soft from the heat of your hand, pop it in the fridge for a few minutes.  Every time I got near the bottom of the bag, it started to get a little runny.  This frosting is also spreadable, and will not soften as quickly when you use a spreader.

Makes about 6 cups, enough to fill and frost an 8" layer cake.

Difficulty rating  π

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Blackberry Cake (frozen fruit)

Now we're starting on the cake recipes I plan to use.  Up first is a blackberry cake.  Being a chocolate-cake person, I didn't realize these existed until Cousin Smurf's fiancé wanted one.  Unsure of the availability of fresh blackberries in late October in Virginia, I asked them to make sure the grocery store carried frozen and planned the cake recipe around that.

The recipe I tested is actually a variation on the strawberry cake recipe from My Cake School. I've been watching Preppy Kitchen on YouTube, and his strawberry cake used jam.  I found this to be a way out of buying extracts I'll never use again.  Plus, I couldn't find blackberry.  What I'm basically doing here is making an unstrained, lightly sweetened syrup to concentrate the flavor.  I suppose I could have bought jam, but since the purée here takes the place of milk, I didn't want to mess up the moisture content of the cake and have to develop a whole recipe on my own.

This also means you have to start the cake an extra day ahead, or at least four hours.  The purée has to cool to at least room temperature.  The mixture will also keep up to a week in the fridge, so you can make it whenever you have half an hour and deal with the cake another day.

If you do want to use fresh berries, I'm going to assume you can use the same weight as what I used frozen.  The moisture content may vary a bit, but you can fix that with water or further reduction.

I had never heard of a reverse creaming method.  It's pretty much the same as a biscuit method with more moisture.  The fats go in first to keep the glutens short, then you get everything wet and whip it light.  Considering some of the recipes I've read lately, I shouldn't be surprised that there's yet another way to make a cake.

All this said, the cake came out very dense, like a torte.  I'm pretty sure it's because of the reduced moisture content.  If I don't like the next recipe I try, I'll come back to this one and tweak it.  The taste was exactly what I was going for.  My guess is it needs a bit of milk and to swap in margarine for the butter.  There's a ton of baking powder, so that's not the problem.  Everyone at work liked it, so I guess I'm the only one with a hangup.

4 eggs, room temperature
2 10 oz bags frozen blackberries
1 tsp vanilla
violet food color, if desired
3 C cake flour
1-3/4 C sugar, divided
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1.  Defrost blackberries and purée in a blender.  If desired, strain out the seeds.  Pour into a saucepan and add 1/4 C sugar.  Bring to a boil and reduce to 1-1/2 C of purée.  Set aside to cool to at least room temperature.  Grease and line three 8" cake pans.
2.  Start preheating the oven to 350º.  With a fork, beat together eggs, vanilla, the blackberry syrup, and any food coloring you may want to heighten the color.

3.  In the stand mixer with the paddle, combine flour, remaining 1-1/2 C sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Stir for 30 seconds on low to combine.  Paddle in the butter and oil to make crumbs, scraping the bowl once.
4.  On low, add 1/2 of the wet mixture.  Increase speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes, into a thick batter.  Scrape bowl, add another 1/4 of the wet and beat for 20 seconds, add the rest and beat for 20 seconds.
5.  Divide batter between the pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and remove the wax paper.  Cool completely before frosting or freezing.

Makes one 3-layer 8" cake

Difficulty rating  :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


I have been eating things other than cake.  Actually, I'm kind of getting sick of cake.  It's rarely my first choice for dessert to start with.

Shakshuka is simply an Israeli vegetable stew topped with a poached egg.  I sort of did this with the quinoa paella.

My version is slightly different than the traditional because of the pepper issue.  If you're sensitive to the whole nightshade family, just skip this.  Or sub in something you can have, use pesto for the sauce, and make it your own!

One thing I did here, because I knew there would be leftovers, is make the stew in a large skillet first. Then I put some in a 6" and cracked a single egg on it.  Repeat each day until the stew is gone.  If you're making this for the family, go ahead and crack all the eggs to serve immediately.

1 14oz can diced tomatoes
*1/2 C diced onion
2 Tb olive oil
*2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, diced
*1 C celery, diced
*1 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
*4 C fresh spinach
1 14 oz can black beans, rinsed
6 eggs
cilantro for garnish

1.  Sauté onion and celery in the oil in a deep 10" skillet with a lid.  When soft, add garlic and spices and cook until fragrant.

2.  Stir in tomatoes and their juice, tomato sauce, and diced eggplant.  Cover and simmer until eggplant is soft, about 30 minutes.
3.  Stir in beans and spinach and cook until the greens are wilted, about 3 minutes.

4.  Make six wells with the back of a spoon or ladle in the stew.  Crack an egg into each one.  Cover and cook until whites are done but the yolks haven't set, about 2-3 minutes.

5.  Sprinkle the top with fresh cilantro leaves.  Serve from skillet, with one egg per serving.  Goes well with pita on the side.

Serves 6

Difficulty rating  :)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Galaxy Mirror Cake

Get ready to make a mess.

If you've followed this blog for the past week or so, you've seen this coming.  I could have done this as part of the Mirror Glaze post, but I'm following my own rule of breaking down each cake into manageable recipes.

Now that I've done a mirror cake, it really is as easy as it looks on YouTube.  I probably didn't even have to stress as much as I did about getting the frosting smooth.

You can't do this in a rush, though.  The glaze will be at the right temperature whenever it feels like it.  This took something like half an hour in my un-air-conditioned kitchen on an 80+ degree day.  I didn't even try to do it during the heat wave.

You also can't leave these cakes out for long.  I set a personal limit of 15 minutes at a time.  Just like with Jell-O at a picnic, it's going to start to melt.  You might get half an hour at room temperature in the winter.

I used a buttercream/mousse mixture as frosting, so this isn't a true entremet cake.  I hear you can give fondant this treatment, but it seems silly to go to the trouble of laying fondant just to cover it with something else.  It isn't going to taste any better.

1 Chocolate Cake
1/2 batch Chocolate Mousse
1/2 batch Buttercream Frosting
1 Tb cocoa powder
1 batch Mirror Glaze
Gel food coloring in black, blue, pink, and white

1.  Trim cakes flat.  Mount onto a cake circle the same size or one inch smaller than the cake with a dab of frosting.
2.  Whip together mousse, remaining frosting, and cocoa powder.  Use it to fill and frost the cake layers, getting the finished product as smooth as you can.  Freeze for at least 8 hours.  You can do this days in advance.
3.  Get a hot scraper or offset spatula and smooth out any remaining dings in the frosting.  Because of the mousse, this was much easier than usual.  I even used my fingers to get a few spots the spatula was having trouble with.  Put it back in the freezer while you make the glaze.

4.  Set up your pouring station while the glaze is doing its 5-minute thing.  Line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with plastic wrap for easier cleanup.  Set up some kind of lift for the cake that is smaller than the cake circle.  It can be a smaller cake pan or a wide-mouthed mug.  It needs to be high enough for you to reach under it to lift the glazed cake, so about 4 to 6 inches.
5.  Color about half of the glaze black, then two more bowls blue and pink.  Once they're poured over the black, they won't be this bright.
6.  When the glazes hit 90º, get the cake out of the freezer and set it on the drip riser.  Immediately pour the black on the top and around the sides.  I went just until all surfaces were covered, then kept the rest for touch-ups.  Start pouring the colors.  I poured a little blue, a little pink, then combined the two without stirring and poured them together.  Lastly, I finished with drizzles of the remaining black.
7.  Give it a minute to set, then go around the bottom with an offset spatula to remove the drips.  Flick  some white food coloring on the cake using a new paintbrush to be the stars.
8.  Carefully lift the cake and set on a larger plate or cake board for easy transport and less mess.  Refrigerate immediately, and for at least 2 hours before serving.

9.  Look into the pan at the mess you just made.  Unless you have some cake pops laying around that need to be glazed, or another small cake, this is just going in the trash.  This is why I wished I'd made half a batch.  There will always be some waste with this method, but this was a lot.

Makes 1 cake, up to 10" diameter

Difficulty rating :-0

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Mirror Glaze

I had a vague idea of what I wanted my next cake to look like and randomly Googled some terms I thought I had invented.  A whole world of mirror glaze opened up before me.

Mirror glaze is basically gelatinized white chocolate ganache.  You color it, get it to a precise temperature, and pour it over a frozen cake, where the gelatin sets almost immediately in a unique swirl.

You're supposed to use this glaze on an entremet cake, which is a project.  You fill a cake mold partway with mousse, set the cake on it, fill in the sides with more mousse, and freeze the whole shebang.  Once it's unmolded and trimmed even, you glaze it.  You can also do this with a buttercream-frosted cake or a pre-baked cheesecake that hasn't cracked.  Just make sure the icing is as perfect as you can get it and the cake is frozen for at least 8 hours.  Otherwise, all your frosting is going to melt right off.

All of the recipes I researched weren't exactly snobby with the "use real white chocolate" mantra so much as stressing the importance of there being actual cocoa butter in the glaze.  Most "white chips" are palm kernel oil.  I presume it has a different melting point than cocoa butter and won't firm up correctly when the gelatin does.  I got lucky and went to Smart&Final the day Ghirardelli bars were on sale for $2.49 for 4 oz.  If I'd known how much glaze this made, I could have made a half-recipe for the 6" cake and saved a bit.  This cake project is picking at my grocery budget bit by bit.

This recipe is from Southern Fatty.  It worked the way I wanted it to, so that's what I'm posting.  Because this concept is almost a chemistry project, recipes aren't going to vary that much.  The one thing everyone agrees on is that the glaze must be between 86º and 90º F when you pour it, or the mousse/icing will melt before the glaze sets.  Any cooler, and it won't pour smoothly.  Also, pull the cake out of the freezer less than a minute before you start pouring.  Moisture starts to bead up on the surface of the cake almost immediately, which will also cause the glaze to slide off.

2 packets plain gelatin powder, softened in 1/3 C cold water
1/3 C + 1-1/2 Tb water
200g (about 1 C) sugar
2/3 C corn syrup
1/2 C sweetened condensed milk
200g chopped white chocolate (2 4-oz Ghirardelli bars minus 2 squares)

1.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring second water, sugar, and corn syrup to a low boil. Stir to make sure everything is dissolved.  Don't go for a full rolling boil, or you'll start to make candy.

2.  Remove mixture from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved.  Add condensed milk and pour over white chocolate.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
3.  Using an immersion blender, whiz the mixture until smooth.  Don't have one?  Neither do I.  What I did was soften the chocolate in the microwave before pouring the hot mixture over it, then stir for quite a while until I figured that was as good as it was going to get.  (See photo at top of post.)

4.  Run mixture through a strainer to catch any unmelted chocolate.  This was easier to clean than I expected it to be.  Between the gelatin, condensed milk, and white chocolate, the glaze is going to smell like feet.  The smell goes away when it's on the cake.
5.  Portion out glaze into bowls and color with gel or powders.  The recipe again suggested an immersion blender, but I had no trouble getting even colors with spoons.  Check temperature every few minutes by stirring with the thermometer.  When it gets down to 90º, get out the cake and start pouring.

Makes 3 C glaze, enough for a 10" cake

Difficulty rating  π

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Chocolate Mousse

This is the only recipe I copied out of my textbook Professional Baking before giving it to Techie Smurf.  (My edition is long out of print.  Did I really pay that much for it?!). I used this mousse as the filling for his wedding cake, then beat the leftovers into the frosting to make it creamier.

Being from a professional textbook, most of the ingredients are in weights.  I clearly scaled this down and changed the eggs from weight to apiece.  I may have even done the math from metric.  Brave me.  I do like that this recipe uses a whole egg instead of only the whites.  Bobby Flay's recipe looks at least as good as this one, but I didn't want to end up uneven on the yolk side.

Yes, this uses raw egg whites, but you do cook the yolks.  Freshness is the key.  You can't use pasteurized egg whites from a carton because they won't whip, but you could use meringue powder if you're worried about immunocompromised guests.  Adjust sugar as necessary.

I'm cleaning up the amounts a little, but you're going to need a food scale.  Nothing except the egg is an even package size.

6-2/3 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 Tb + 2 tsp water
3 eggs, separated and room temperature
1 Tb water + 2 tsp vanilla
1-1/3 oz sugar (weight)
2/3 C chilled heavy cream

1.  In a large saucepan, melt chocolate and water together over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently until smooth.
2.  Beat egg yolks into chocolate and stir constantly until mixture thickens slightly, signaling that the eggs are cooked.  This will take at least 5 minutes.  Stir in water and vanilla.  Set aside to cool slightly, but it should still be fluid.

3.  Whip egg whites and sugar into a sturdy meringue.  Fold into the chocolate.  (Why you used a comically huge saucepan for a cup of chocolate.)  It's ok if there are still some lumps, because you're going to mix it again in a bit.
4.  Whip the cream to soft peaks.  Fold into the chocolate mixture until no obvious lumps remain.

5.  Pour into serving bowl, individual ramekins, or whatever you're going to store it in.  Don't worry if it seems too thin now; it will firm up after an hour or two in the fridge, once the chocolate hardens.  Chill before serving.

6.  Top with dollops of whipped cream and chocolate shavings before serving.  Or, use as cake or pastry filling.  It can be run through a pastry bag with a delicate hand so you don't deflate the egg whites.  Just keep the designs chilled so they hold shape.  You can add it to softened chocolate buttercream icing to give it a smoother texture and to make it easier to pipe.

Makes about 4 cups, 8 to 10 individual servings

Difficulty rating  :)