Friday, January 23, 2009
Ooh La La...Bouchons!
Wow. It's so hot, it sizzles. Articles in the Times, both LA and NY, responsible friends sending them to me asking, "Can YOU Bouchon?" I explore our own food section every week and had never come across the bouchon, it had to be on the wire, why not in our paper? Maybe it wasn't Southern, wasn't fried, required special equipment, whatever, but I know lots of people who would love to eat these, and a few may possibly go to the effort of baking them from scratch. And then at Williams Sonoma, the mix. Horrors. I know the mix is good, it is Williams Sonoma for Pete's sake. But the question was, could I, possibly bouchon?
Bouchon is French for cork, and the finished cake should resemble one. It is the brainchild of Thomas Keller, the genius behind French Laundry in the California Wine Country. Bouchon is the name of the bakery and he started it primarily to bake bread for his restaurants. I guess one day he decided he needed a signature bouchon dessert. I'm guessing, but it would make a sweet story. These little cork cakes are pretty hard to describe in writing, but have quickly turned legendary.
First the molds. We sell a silicone mold at the store that bakes 12 at a time, but Lori, the sweet sis she is, sent me the recipe from the LA Times and bought me the real French molds at Sur La Table.
The fluted are by far prettier, but proved to be unworthy. More on that later. They are really called timbale molds and are about 3 oz.
The recipe from the LA Times is pretty easy and straightforward. The batter can be made and then chilled if you can't bake all the "corks" at one time. But beware, one taste of that batter and Whoa! it is killer. I used my bittersweet Guittard chocolate, (only about 6 pounds to go), and of course Pernigotti Cocoa. I also used some aged vanilla from Nielsen Massey that was a gift from a friend. 10 year old vanilla is wonderful and more fragrant than you can imagine. After I mixed up the batter, I divided it between 2 disposable pastry bags.
The theory was that each bag would have to fill 6 timbales. The recipe said to butter and flour the molds, but I decided to spray them with Bak-klene. It is great stuff and washes off with soapy water. I baked them at 350 convection for about 22 minutes. They smelled fabulous and were super shiny on top. A few had cooked over and formed a sort of crust. I cooled them as directed, and the basic ones slid right out and looked oh, so cork like. The fluted, well, not so successful in the release, and you can't really see the design with that dark chocolate. Next time, 2 batches of 6 with the solid molds. A dusting of powdered sugar, and wow! I CAN bouchon, they look just like Keller's. So, now YOU bouchon, get in there and cook!
Adapted from Bouchon by Thomas Keller
3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces) flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, melted and just slightly warm
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as 55% Valrhona, chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
Butter and flour for the timbale molds
1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed until thick and pale in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and continue to mix to combine. (The batter can be made up to this point and refrigerated, covered, for up to one day.)
4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 timbale molds. Set aside.
5. Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, or with a large plain tip, and fill each mold about two-thirds full. Bake the bouchons until the tops are shiny and set (like a brownie), and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out moist but clean (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate), 20 to 25 minutes.
6. Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the molds and let the bouchons cool in the molds. Remove the molds and serve, or store until needed (the bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked).
7. To serve, invert the bouchons and dust them with powdered sugar. Serve with ice cream, if desired.
Each of 12 servings: 453 calories; 5 grams protein; 46 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 30 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 113 mg. cholesterol; 116 mg. sodium.
Okay...I KNOW...pretend you didn't read it. 453 calories. YIKES! Are they worth it? Well, yes. The Williams Sonoma mix is about half the calories, but honestly, just not as rich as the real thing.