29 Oct Alice Eats Sunken Dark-Chocolate Cake
Describing this cookbook as unconventional would be misleading. It doesn’t contain outrageously challenging recipes or impossible to get ingredients. You won’t find odd flavour combinations or dishes that look like storybook animals. If I may mix my fictional elements, Alice Eats is the James Bond martini of the cookbook world. Its motto isn’t so much “Curiouser and curiouser!” as “Shaken, not stirred.” While the ingredients are familiar, it’s the assembly that defies convention. And like a Bond martini, the results are intoxicating.
Based on Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice Eats grabs the traditional cookbook genre by its ankles, drops it down the rabbit hole and then leads it on a psychedelic, edible romp. Confused? Don’t be. Instead, set aside your expectations of what a cookbook is and dive in.
What will you find? Two books in one. Alice Eats includes Carroll’s full text interspersed with “recipes inspired by the story and its characters.” Inside the jubilant cover, you’ll find Mock Turtle’s Mock Turtle Soup, Caterpillar’s Stuffed Mushroom Caps and the Queen of Hearts’ Jam Tarts. The rock-solid recipes are created and photographed by Julie Van Rosendaal while the story itself is illustrated by the quirky, splashy, neon drawings of award-winning chef / illustrator / beard-grower Pierre Lamielle. (If you know the significance of the beard, share your answer in the comments section. You could win a copy of Alice Eats. See below for details.)
Who’s it for? Readers. Parents. Kids. Art lovers. Cooks. Eaters. The Cool Crowd.
I made the Sunken Dark-Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Fool from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party section. My mother was hosting a tea party and the out-of-town guests showed up with fascinators and crazy feather-rimmed hats. I take such convergences as signs that the cake, the party and the book were “meant to be.”
The recipe’s headnote says it “Serves 8 to 12 fools and /or geniuses.” I’m not going to gauge where our IQs fall, but I will pass judgement on the cake. Even though there were 10 of us, a dozen scones, four kinds of homemade jam, two platters of finger sandwiches and copious quantities of tea, only a sliver of this moist, sloppy cake survived the feeding frenzy. It’s that good.
While labels in Wonderland urge Alice to “Eat me” or “Drink me” I would make a third: “Buy me!”
If you do, I promise you won’t grow, or shrink or encounter talking animals. You will, however, be enthralled. And hungry. And oh, so glad you decided to join in on the adventure.
- 8 ounces (250 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup (125 mL) butter, cut into chunks
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup (250 mL) sugar, divided
- 2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen (thawed) raspberries or blackberries
- ¼ cup (60 mL) sugar, divided
- 1½ cups (375 mL) heavy (whipping) cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the bottom of 9-inch springform pan with waxed or parchment paper. Don't grease the pan —the batter needs to cling to the sides as it rises.
- Gently melt the chocolate with the butter over low on the stovetop, or in a glass or stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Separate 4 of the eggs, putting the yolks and whites in separate medium bowls. Add the remaining 2 eggs and ½ cup of the sugar to the egg yolks. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.
- Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy.
- Gradually add the remaining sugar, beating until the egg whites form soft mounds but aren't yet stiff. Fold about one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, and then gently fold in the rest, without deflating the egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is puffy and cracked on top, and the middle isn't wobbly. Cool the cake completely in the pan without loosening the sides (the batter will cling to the pan is it cools, sinking in the middle and keeping its high sides).
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, gently crush the berries with half the sugar —a potato masher or whisk works well. Set aside to macerate for 10 minutes or so.
- When you're ready to serve the cake, whip the cream with the rest of the sugar until softly stiff, and fold in the fruit mixture, leaving it swirled through the cream rather than blended in.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sunken cake and remove the sides of the pan. Transfer the key to a serving plate, leaving the cake on the pan bottom. Mound the fool in the middle of the cake. Serve immediately.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which inspired the recipes, was written by Lewis Carroll and now falls comfortably in the public domain.
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Update: The winner, selected using random.org, is Anna. Congratulations, Anna. I’ll be in touch with you soon my email about claiming your book. Happy reading and eating!
Want to win a copy of Alice Eats? Leave a comment telling me the significance of Pierre’s beard — he grew it just for the book. Don’t know? Then share your favourite Alice in Wonderland character or who you would read this book to if you were lucky enough to win. I’ll draw a name at random on November 16. Winners must reside in Canada or Continental US. [/box]