Every so often, the Universe sends Opportunity knocking at my door. I’m usually pretty leery about answering if I’m not expecting company. Because more often than not, the person on the other side of the door is trying to sell me something…eternal salvation, Girl Scout cookies, or a weekend subscription to the newspaper. I usually take a gander through the peep hole and then stand there quietly until the knocker goes away. But recently, Opportunity left me a calling card in the form of an invitation to spend an evening with Nick Malgieri.
Perhaps I should clarify that statement so as not to give anyone the wrong impression of my moral character. I was invited to join a group of Baltimore bloggers for an evening of food and drinks organized by Dara of Dining Dish. Nick Malgieri was the guest of honor.
I’ve said before that my knowledge of the culinary world is pretty narrow. At least I know that I don’t know squat about the culinary Who’s Who. And that’s really something that I should work on. Not so that can I drop names left and right in casual conversation but so that I can expose myself to the wonderful talents of the folks who have turned their passion for creating good food into learning opportunities for home cooks like myself.
That’s how it came to be that I fixed my hair, put on mascara and my cute heels, and set out with a dutch oven full of Commitment Chili and a few dozen Puffy Hearts…I had some learning to do. And what I learned is that people are people. It doesn’t matter if you have over 30 years of experience and 9 cookbooks to your credit, or you’re a home cook who blogs about your kitchen (mis)adventures. We each bring our talents and unique perspectives to the table. How could that be the recipe for anything but a great evening?
My thanks to Nick for sharing his thoughts with us on the culinary world and being gracious and generous with his time, his talent, and his baking. I have been drooling over the pages of his latest book – bake! – since bringing it home that night. I think this description sums it up best:
“After 30 years of teaching and 9 cookbooks, Nick Malgieri is finally writing the book he’s meant to write–a collection of over 30 essential techniques, and recipes derived thereof–outlining the easiest ways to learn the essentials of baking. The 20 chapters cover all the main techniques of fine baking, starting with simple pastry dough and moving through puff pastry and Danish pastry, to all sorts of breads, quick breads, cakes, and cookies. The 125 recipes will take all the intimidation out of baking and promise delicious savory and sweet results.”
If you’ve hung around these parts a while, you know that I can get intimidated by the mere utterance of “yeast”, “dough”, or “pastry”. But after reading the recipes, I think that even I can produce satisfying cakes, breads, and tarts with Nick’s help. I’d like to also thank him for including variations on several of the bake! recipes that I can use to avoid things like seeds and nuts but still work on improving my techniques and enjoying the results.
I hope the next time opportunity comes knocking at my door, it maybe brings me a pair of stretchy pants. Because I fear that I won’t be able to control myself once I jump into bake!
Nick Malgieri’s Chocolate Bourbon Cake
Reprinted with Permission
Copyright © Nick Malgieri 2011, All Rights Reserved
BAH Note: Not only did Nick share his baking talents with us in person, but he’s given us permission to share one of his unpublished recipes with you. How does Chocolate Bourbon Cake sound? I tasted this cake and it is heaven on a plate. Moist, but dense and richly chocolate, it lulls you into its web. And then it wraps you with a bourbony hug. You could omit the bourbon, but I can’t imagine why you’d want to. I asked Nick whether the cake required a water bath in order to achieve its silky texture and you could have knocked me over with a feather when he said no. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.
Nick says, “The sweet, mellow flavor of Bourbon has a great affinity for chocolate. Serve this unadorned cake with a little unsweetened whipped cream.” I could not agree more.
Makes one 8-inch cake, 8 to 10 servings
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
- Pinch of salt
- 5 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons best-quality Bourbon
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- One 8-inch round 2-inch deep pan, buttered, bottom lined with a disk of buttered parchment.
1. Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, allowing it to sizzle and get really hot. Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk smooth.
3. In a bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, flour, and salt together; add all the eggs and Bourbon. Whisk together smoothly.
4. Stir the brown sugar into the butter and chocolate mixture and stir into the batter.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake until the center is still soft, but no longer liquid, 25 to 35 minutes.
6. Cool the cake on a rack.
7. To serve the cake, invert to a platter and remove the pan and paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap if not serving immediately.