This being my first post about chocolate, I will confess that I’m not the biggest chocolate dessert fan. When it comes to chocolate I would much rather have a truffle, a good quality bar or a brownie. However, I still have to give the masses what they want. I don’t want to get in the way of someone’s chocolate fix. So here I offer the chocolate date pudding cake from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano (sans walnuts, because I have to draw the line somewhere). I made a pear frozen yogurt to pair it with, and finish it with a balsamic chocolate sauce and candied pistachios.
You know how pears love to sit around hard as a rock, and, when you’re not looking, turn mushy and gross? Well, show them who’s boss by turning them into this frozen yogurt. Ha ha, take that pears! While the cake is sort of a production, my frozen yogurt is quick—stir it, churn it, freeze it.
Chocolate Date Pudding Cake from Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma
(I found the portioning of this in the book to be a bit off. For my taste this makes seven half-cup ramekin-sized servings. You can also use a muffin tin and it will make 12 small muffin-sized servings.)
8 Medjool dates
1/2 cup milk
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz butter
3/4 cup flour
2 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cream
Grease seven 4-oz ramekins; set aside. Pit the dates and transfer to a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Scald the milk and add to the processor to puree the dates to a lumpy paste; set aside. In a bowl, melt the chocolate and butter over simmering water, stirring to incorporate; set aside. In another bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until it looks thick (about 4 minutes). Add the chocolate and beat to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients and beat to incorporate. Add the date puree and cream and beat to incorporate. Divide the batter among the ramekins and bake at 325º until puffed and cracked on top (20-ish minutes). The centers should still be slightly underdone, and the cakes will collapse as they cool. Serve warm.
Pear Frozen Yogurt
2 over-ripe pears
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lb 6 oz Greek yogurt
7 oz sugar
Peel, core and chop the pears. Transfer to a blender with the lemon juice. Puree them well. You are going for slightly less than a cup and half of puree. In a bowl, stir the Greek yogurt and sugar together. Stir in the pear puree. Let it sit overnight in the fridge to develop the flavor. This will yield a little over a quart after churning.
Balsamic Chocolate Sauce
5 oz sugar
2 oz cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
8 oz good quality chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar reduction
Place sugar and cocoa powder in sauce pan and whisk. Add water and corn syrup and stir. Whisk to combine the cocoa into the liquid while bringing just to a boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and balsamic reduction, stirring to melt the chocolate. Serve the sauce warm.
To make balsamic reduction, pour some balsamic vinegar into a sauce pan, bring to a simmer and reduce. Ha! Easy. The vinegar will start to get syrupy. Go ahead an make a good amount of reduction, you’ll find plenty of uses for it.