It’s Valentine’s Day and what better time to indulge in the sinfully rich pleasures of, ahhh, chocolate. Good news! Studies show chocolate not only enhances our health, emotions and sensuality, it’s also a major boost to our creativity. Life can’t get any better.
We’ve all heard of the gut-brain connection and how what we put in our guts affects what our brains put out. Chocolate, in all its cacaos glory, is a perfect example. An English study found that eating chocolate offers a 2-3-hour boost of blood flow to the brain thanks to the large amounts of flavanols it contains. I’m a believer! When I lead brainstorming interviews with my clients, I often bring chocolates to brighten up the meeting and expand their thinking. Besides, chocolate is just plain fun.
So, having affirmed chocolate is good for us, let’s celebrate Valentine’s with a creative version of Sara Foster’s Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cake. I say creative simply because I’ve tweaked it a bit. Baking is a personal adventure, is it not?
My love of all things Sara Foster began more than a decade ago when my daughter was attending law school in Durham, North Carolina. We’d eat at Foster’s Market, a frontrunner in the farm fresh movement, and I would swoon over the food, the shop, the atmosphere, everything. The whole East Coast was also swooning, because the place always had a line out the door. This soufflé recipe is from her Fresh Every Day, a cookbook I’ve used not quite every day, but almost, for the last ten years. It never gets old.
As I mentioned, I’ve made some adaptations to the recipe. I recently started raising bees and am neurotically obsessed with substituting honey for sugar. Honey is a stronger sweetener so I lessened its amount. I also added a pinch of baking soda to balance the honey’s natural acidity. And because I love Kahlúa, I did a double down on that —it’s Valentine’s Day, after all!
Here’s my version…
Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cake
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for buttering the pan
1/3 cup honey
8 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 large eggs, separated
Top with your favorite fruit and/or freshly whipped cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in the coffee liqueur, baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Beat the egg yolks and honey together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until it thickens slightly, about 3-5 minutes. The mixture will richen in color. Gently fold a quarter of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture. Pour the chocolate with the added eggs into the bowl with the remaining eggs and fold gently to combine.
4. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whites until incorporated. Do not over-mix the batter; traces of the egg whites may remain.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it to make even. Bake on a center rack for 30-35 minutes, until the edges of the cake are set but the center is still soft. It will set completely as it cools. Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake. Remove from pan and transfer the cake onto a serving plate. Top with fruit and/or freshly whipped cream. Slice and serve immediately.
Happy Valentines Day!