SMS: Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake

I have a bit of a confession to make. I am a highly neurotic cook. My perfectionist tendencies follow me into the kitchen, and although my passion for baking brings me a sense of inner peace and tranquility, I can’t help but get worked up some times when I make a mistake or things don’t turn out right. The rational side of my brain tries to reason with me, “It’s okay, Joy, not everything you make can be a smashing success, and even though you’re disappointed now, try not to get discouraged! You’ve learned from the experience and will do better next time, that’s what’s important.” Note: this voice is often the repeating of my mom’s words of encouragement in my head. But usually, I’m too overcome with melancholy and consternation to listen. Bearing all this in mind, I never, never, imagined myself standing over a perfectly risen, evenly domed cake saying, “C’mon, fall. FALL! I want you to look like a pathetic deflated tire. Will you fall already?”

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Yesterday morning, this curious kitchen occurrence came true as I stared at this week’s SMS selection, the cover recipe of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake. Thankfully, this time my cake listened to my pleading, and sunk ever so slightly in the middle, creating cracks and crevices along the surface. Un-molding the cake only enhanced its homely appearance, revealing un-even sides that looked sadly smushed together. While it wouldn’t be winning any beauty contests, it did resemble the book’s photograph, and I was hoping that the cake’s flavor far exceeded its appearance in impressiveness and overall appeal. But before I could serve and find out, I had to wait patiently for the cake to cool completely, giving me the perfect opportunity to discover how this cake came to be.

Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake 2

In the mid-1970s, famous restaurateur, Narsai David, set off an absolute sensation with his over-the-top dessert aptly titled the Chocolate Decadence Torte. Ever since, pastry chefs round the world have been crafting devastatingly rich chocolate desserts hoping to achieve ultimate chocolate nirvana on a plate. The intensely flavored French-style desserts unite the seemingly paradoxical qualities of a dense truffle and airy mousse. A palate and preference for these chocolate treats spread quickly throughout the American public, and variations like the ubiquitous flourless chocolate cake began popping up on high-end dessert menus everywhere.

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Another such adaptation is the fallen soufflé cake, a hybrid of sorts between a chocolate mousse/soufflé and a flourless cake. Fortunately for the baker, the nerve-wracking anxiety of soufflé baking is eliminated, as a fallen dessert is the desired result. While the batter is constructed and baked just like a soufflé, it is allowed to cool thoroughly, during which time it falls, compacting the texture. It’s best served slightly re-warmed, so the consistency remains more like a mousse than a dense fudge. Traditionally, fallen soufflé cakes are served accompanied by a custard, caramel sauce, ice cream, or sweetened whipped cream.

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I’m sad to say the Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book didn’t quite live up to expectation. The reaction my tasters had at first bite can be described in one word: surprise. My dad remarked, “I taste something, but it’s not chocolate… it’s not orange, is it?” Apparently the single teaspoon of orange zest and splash of Grand Marnier was enough to overpower the central ingredient. Even with over 10 ounces of Ghirardelli, it just didn’t deliver that punch of chocolate flavor I was after. My mom chimed in commenting on the lack of sweetness, and asked if I had used all bittersweet chocolate. Nope. All semisweet here. Both had no problem polishing off their slices, and complimented the cake’s surprisingly light texture, but then came the kiss of death: “It’s just not my favorite,” my mom said gently. When my number one fan, who loves EVERYTHING I make, utters those five telling words, I know that there won’t be a second showing of the dessert in my home.

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I still have to thank Sarah of The Blue Ridge Baker for pushing me to try something I’ve never tackled before. I’m now inspired to find the fallen chocolate cake of my dreams, and don’t you worry, when I do, I’ll be sharing. Please still check out Sarah’s fantastic site, where you’ll find the recipe along with a bonus chocolate cake that she deemed “heavenly.” I’m certainly adding that one to my must-try list! And remember to check out how all the other lovely ladies’ cakes came out too!

Joy Heart 2

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17 responses

  1. Hi Joy,

    You captured the experience beautifully, and made me smile and laugh out loud. What a wonderful sense of humor you exhibit! You are truly a delight.

    With lots of love,
    Mommy

  2. Yes, the cake was a bit of a disappointment, wasn’t it… Though yours is absolutely gorgeous. It is surprising that with that much chocolate, it just isn’t very chocolatey. In contrast, the “bonus cake” I made only had 4 oz of chocolate, and had a very intense chocolate flavor… Strange… Well, at least one of them is a keeper. Thanks for baking along with me this week, it is always a pleasure to stop by here!

  3. The cake looks beautiful, Joy! I’m sorry it wasn’t a favorite for your family. I must confess that I share your neurosis in the kitchen, I know I really shouldn’t worry about everything turning out perfect (‘cos not everything will), but I do.

  4. Your cake is gorgeous Joy! It sounds like your family had a similar reaction to the way my husband and I felt. The cake was ok, but just not our thing. I agree about the chocolate flavor too – just not strong enough!

    I seriously could have written the first paragraph of your post. Describes me to a T 🙂

  5. You and I are just alike in the kitchen… once something doesn’t go as planned, that neurotic perfectionist baker comes out with a bang!

    I’m sorry your souffle didn’t wow. Mine didn’t either, it got a mere “it tastes good” that didn’t even convince me. *shrugs* But listen to me now, this was a learning lesson, not everything will be delicious. It may not have been your mom’s favorite because souffles might not be her thing. It had nothing to do with your merits as a baker, because you are a fine one! Trust me, I have a feeling about these things 🙂 Try, try again until you make something magnificent!!

    On another note, I’ll be trying to whip up those banana crumb muffins tonight (my bananas are turning quite brown! oops…) so cross your fingers for me 😀

  6. Too funny! I guess we’re all a bunch of over-achieving bakers… I am always so disappointed when something doesn’t turn out. I’ll even contemplate throwing it away so I don’t tarnish my baking image (since we’re confessing our darkest secrets)!

    My family had a similar reaction. But to be fair, I served it alongside a cherry pie and we are very much a fruit pie family. Though, it was really funny because I brought the leftovers in to work the next day and the cake got RAVE reviews. I did find the flavor to be better the next day and I also liked it better cold.

    Sorry this wasn’t a favorite for you…

  7. Too bad this cake wasn’t “it”. I’m glad you had a chance to make it though :o)

    I hope you had a chance to read my State Fair Results post. It was fun to participate, as always.

    Btw, I tagged you for an A-Z tag. Go to my blog to find out :o)

    Talk to you soon!

  8. Joy, your cake looks gorgeous! I love the fruit on top and the delicate sprinkling of icing sugar. Sorry this wasn’t a favourite of yours – the ingredients sound promising, so that’s a shame!

  9. Pingback: SMS: Orange Scented Scones *with Grand Marnier Honey Butter Glaze* « Hot Oven, Warm Heart

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