Chocolate Cake

More restaurants need to step up to the plate (so to speak) when it comes to desserts. Why? Because you lose income (lower check average) if you don’t. Why? Because you increase customer satisfaction.

Absolutely, there are a gazillion desserts –– many of them quite good –– that you can purchase from suppliers that are ready to go. But those of you who follow me know that I am always preaching the sweet satisfaction that comes along with having at least one special dessert that is made in house.

Who doesn’t love chocolate cake? Here is a recipe for a chocolate cake that is easy to make yet is quite delicious. Give this luscious cake the Italian name –– torta di cioccolata –– not only because it sounds better, but it helps to enhance the idea of quality foods in y our restaurant. You will notice that there is no flour in the recipe (the half-cup of flour is used to dust the pan), so in essence this is a version of a flourless chocolate cake. All you have to do now is have your servers say: “Our chocolate cake is made right here in house, and it is delicious.” Those are words so sweet it makes it hard for any customer to resist ordering a slice (or two).

Chocolate Torte

This torta gets its richness and flavor from not only the chocolates in the recipe, but the coffee. If you want to enhance the flavor even more, use espresso (regular or decaf). You will find that the consistency of the torta is similar to that of a mousse (though a bit thicker).

Makes one 9-inch torta (scale up in direct proportion)

1 pound unsalted butter
½ cup flour
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup brewed coffee (espresso or regular)
10 ounces semisweet chocolate
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Fit a 9-inch springform pan (or deep-dish pizza pan) with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly grease the foil with butter. Put the flour in the pan to coat the butter all over by turning and tapping the pan. Tap out the excess flour.
In a large saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and the coffee and whisk to blend. Add the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts, whisk to combine.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the chocolate mixture cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs slowly to combine.

Pour the cake batter into the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and the top has a thin dry crust. Cool to room temperature. Keep the torta refrigerated.

To serve, slice into wedges. Dust a plate with cocoa powder or powdered sugar (or a combination of both). Plate the cake and dust the top with powdered sugar or serve with a dollop of whipped cream.