I love whipping egg whites. My mixer works way faster than recipes think it will, so I always feel like I’m ahead of the curve. I like motors and going fast. And I get a great deal of joy out of bending eggs into unlikely shapes through by holding my hand in place for a really long time. It makes me feel like Magneto.
That’s why this cake is such a joy to make. It requires nine eggs, whipped up to obscene heights and molded into unexpected forms. It’s also a joy to eat. The filling is silky, the icing shines, and the cake itself just dissolves on the tongue. Also, it’s safe for gluten-free and dairy-sensitive people to eat. (There is milk in the chocolate, so it isn’t completely dairy-free.)
A Brief Word on Baking For People With Food Sensitivities
Feel free to skip this part if you are making the cake for non-gluten-sensitive people, or already have a gluten-free kitchen.
I am a lazy, corner-cutting bastard by nature. But food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances are not to be fucked around with. This is how I try to keep my friends and assorted cake-eaters safe. It takes a little work, but so does all baking. You shouldn’t feel obligated to make someone a gluten-free cake, just like you shouldn’t feel obligated to make ANY cake. But if you do say your food is free of an allergen, there isn’t any room for error on your part.
Personally, I am a trash human being. I don’t trust a single thing in my kitchen to be free of gluten or any other allergen. I get so much flour on my countertops that you could probably drop my entire kitchen in a deep fryer and serve it at a county fair. If you are anything like me—and by that I mean, if you have any doubt at all that your implements are not 100% clean and could never have been exposed to gluten since you put them away—wash them again with hot water, soap, and a new sponge. Scrub down the surfaces you’re going to be working on, or at least put a bit of plastic wrap down to rest your equipment on.
Think about your ingredients. Is it possible that you stuck a used measuring cup or spoon in those ingredients? Could you have possibly failed to scrub all the flour out of that jar before storing sugar in it? If so, open up a fresh version. Fortunately, this recipe only calls for two ingredients that could have been cross-contaminated–sugar and cocoa powder–and they’re both pretty cheap to buy new.
ON TO THE BAKING.
Part One: Making Eggs Into Cake
This recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen’s Lighter than Air Chocolate Cake. The original calls for twelve eggs. Twelve. That’s a lot for a brand new Eggneto, and I only wanted two layers anyways, so I cut the recipe in half.
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
6 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup and 1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Two big mixing bowls
Two 9″ round cake pans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line your pans with parchment paper.
Break your chocolate down into little pieces. You can either chop your chocolate with a knife and cutting board, or you can put it in a freezer bag and hit it with a hammer.
Once the chocolate is pulverized, put it in the double boiler, turn the heat on, and ignore until it melts. Turn the heat down and let it cool while you take care of your first six eggs. Separate out the whites and the yolks. Put half the sugar and all the salt in the yolks, and beat until the contents of the bowl are frothy and a few shades lighter. The recipe says five minutes; it took me three, because I invited a demon into my mixer and feed him regularly with meringue. Now grab that melted chocolate, which has hopefully become lukewarm, and fold it into the egg mixture.
Clean off your beaters and then whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Pour in the rest of the sugar and whip more, until your desire for vengeance has been fulfilled, and/or you have stiff peaks. You’re going to need a big fucking mixing bowl, because six eggs become absolutely enormous by the time they’re stiff.
Drop a third of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate batter and stir it in until mixed. Now plop the rest on top and fold until the streaks disappear.
Interlude: How The Fuck Does Folding Even Work?
The point of whipping up eggs–other than an intimidating display of power–is to introduce air into the batter. Unfortunately, stirring any old way will crush the hopes and dreams of all the air bubbles you just whipped into shape. Thus, folding.
When I fold, I dump one set of ingredients on top of the other. Then, I use a big, sturdy spoon or spatula to cut the batter down the middle. Then I slide the spatula underneath half of the batter and scoop as much as I can over the remaining half. I turn the bowl about 15 degrees, and cut-scoop-turn again. Repeat until everything is combined and there are only minimal streaks in the batter.
Maybe this gif will help:
Folding: that’s how the fuck it works.
Split the batter between the two prepped cake pans, and put them in the oven for 14 minutes. My oven is so small that the pans had to go on separate racks, so I switched them around at the seven minute mark. When the batter looks dry on top, they’re done! Pop the pans on a cooling rack, or trivets, or your enemies.
You’re going to notice some alarming changes in your layers as they cool down. Like Magneto’s mutant empire, this cake is destined to collapse in on itself.
But that’s okay! That’s actually a good thing–because we are going to scoop EVEN MORE EGGS into that crater.
Part Two: Making Eggs Into Peppermint Filling
The base recipe for my frosting and filling is Joe Pastry’s Colonnade Frosting.
Three egg whites
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp corn syrup
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
Two mixing bowls
Candy thermometer (optional)
I’ll admit it. I bowed to the tools of the oppressor and used a candy thermometer instead of my fingers. I had no idea what the softball stage of cooking sugar looked like, and I didn’t want to let my egg whites down. However, I did take some helpful pictures, so you can be braver than me and attempt to brave these wilds without a digital temperature readout.
You’re going to want to pour the hot syrup right into the egg whites. If you’re using a thermometer, you can whip up your egg whites to soft peaks while the sugar, water, and corn syrup heat up. If not, do so beforehand so that you can watch your pot without worrying about timing.
Throw your sugar, water, and corn syrup into the pot and put it on medium heat. If you have a thermometer, you can proceed to ignore the pot until the syrup reaches 238 degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, watch and wait for the syrup to turn clear and then slightly yellow in color. Here is the progression as I witnessed it:
Snag that pot off the stove and drizzle a little of the syrup right on top of the egg whites. Smack it around with the electric mixer for ten seconds and then repeat until all the syrup is gone. The heat from the syrup will actually cook your egg whites. I don’t give a shit. I eat raw batter and dough all the damn time. I’m Eggneto, and food safety is not on my list of priorities. However, the rest of the world won’t listen to me about mutant supremacy if I give them salmonella poisoning first. Take comfort, homo sapiens: the frosting as a whole reaches above 140 degrees before we’re done adding hot syrup.
Finally, toss in your powdered sugar and whip until everything is smooth and combined. This is the frosting/filling base. Scoop about half of the egg goop into a secondary mixing bowl–this will become the chocolate frosting in a moment. Add the peppermint extract to the original mixing bowl and whip in. The peppermint filling is going to be really delicious, and also really liquid.
That looseness is within mission parameters. Leave the peppermint filling out on the counter while you deal with the frosting.
Part Three: Making Eggs Into Chocolate Frosting
That other bowl of frosting from Part Two
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Sift the cocoa powder into the frosting. Yes, you have to sift it. Cocoa powder is lumpy by nature. Take the electric mixer to the whole mess until it’s uniform in color, then throw the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes. That will stiffen up the chocolate frosting so you can apply it more easily later.
Interlude: I HAVE A CAKE TURNTABLE
I HAVE A CAKE TURNTABLE. IT IS EXTREMELY EXCITING.
Magneto and Captain America don’t really get along…
(from X-Men vs Avengers by Roger Stern, Stan Lee, and Marc Silvestri)
However, Eggneto and Captain Ameribear have no such animosity. I am a benevolent baking overlord, so a little fun is allowed.
Part Four: Making Eggs Into A Peppermint Patty
Put your serving surface (cardboard circle, plate, whatever) down on your decorating surface (table, turntable, servant, whatever). Gently place one of your cake layers down on it, and then fill the crater with peppermint filling. Just pour it on in.
Then turn the other layer out of its pan. With as much care as you can, place it upside-down on top of the peppermint lake. Try to center it so that the edges of the cake layers line up. If you, like me, are not so good at precision, your cake will grin horribly at you to remind you that manipulating eggs does not make you the master of your fate.
Try and shift the layers so they line up. Be very, very gentle, and also ready to give up. The cake layers are super delicate and it’s more important to not tear them than to have a perfectly even cake.
Now: go retrieve that chocolate icing from the fridge. Crumb coat this son of a bitch. Carefully, because the son of a bitch is still a baby and all squishy and stuff. Do not spin the turntable to put on the crumb coat. You will tear the cake. Instead, use your most careful, delicate motions to smooth on icing, a little bit at a time.
Then scrape off as much of the frosting as you can without hitting the cake layer underneath. Congrats! Now you can spin the shit out of the turntable and make everything all smooth and beautiful.
Finally, grab some mini chocolate chips and dump them on the depression in the middle of the cake. I was pretty painstaking about this part, because I like poking things and I wanted to finish my episode of Elementary. But you do you. A perfect single layer of chocolate chips is not required in order to prove supremacy over the humans.
Subjugating Homo sapiens is just so much more satisfying with cake.
The Mess Report:
I BET THERE ARE SOME HOMO SAPIENS UNDER THIS PILE OF DISHES
YOU BETTER CLEAN THEM UP TO MAKE SURE