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Chocolate, Prune and Rum Cake
1 hr 20 min 30 min active
We were smitten with Claire Ptak’s chocolate, prune and whiskey cake, but when we got the recipe back to Milk Street we knew we needed to make adjustments. Most home bakers aren’t as skilled as Ptak, and we wanted a cake people would fall in love with on the first try – as we did when we tasted her version. Her cake is deliciously gooey at the center, and we wanted to keep that. A ratio of 3:1 chocolate to butter – as well as 8 ounces of chopped pitted prunes – got us the results we wanted. We tried a variety of chocolates and preferred bar chocolates with 60 to 70 percent cacao (especially the Ghirardelli and Guittard brands). Chocolate chips contain stabilizers that can change the cake’s texture; it’s best to avoid them. Ptak uses almond flour, not an uncommon ingredient in flourless chocolate cakes such as this, but certainly not a common ingredient in American homes. In an effort to streamline, we reworked the cake a bit to leave it out and found the results just as good. At first we questioned the need to whip the egg yolks and whites separately, but we discovered it made a big difference. Whipping the yolks helps maintain the emulsion of chocolate and butter; skipping that step produced an unpleasantly dense cake. And of course by now we understood the value of under-whipping the egg whites and just barely mixing them into the batter. Ptak originally made this cake with Armagnac, but later switched to whiskey. We couldn’t easily find the former, and the latter – while delicious once the cake was cooled – tasted harsh when the cake was warm (and this cake begs to be eaten warm). We found dark rum tasted delicious warm or cooled and better complemented the molasses.
tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) salted butter (1 tablespoon softened)
ounces pitted prunes (about 1½ cups), finely chopped
01Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan evenly with the tablespoon of softened butter. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, combine the prunes, rum and molasses. Microwave until the rum is bubbling, 45 to 60 seconds. Let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I made this cake for Valentine’s Day, was excited by the combination of prunes, molasses and dark rum, all ingredients I love. As it baked I found the smell a bit “curious”, not the nice chocolate smell I was expecting. The cake looked beautiful and cut wonderfully with a very nice moist crumb; but the taste was disappointing. I don’t think the dark rum worked well, may try again using brandy. I agree with the comments above that the cake tasted better the second day and is certainly not for everyone, but it won’t be wasted! Topped with frozen vanilla yogurt helps tone down the “peculiar” flavour.
All of the ingredients are things we love and our taste buds had high expectations for flavor that weren't quite met for them in the outcome here. Made per recipe but... Side note is we found this much better the day it was baked than as leftovers the next day. We were glad we tried it but it would not be a repeat. Different strokes for different folks.