I am an enthusiastic and uneducated drinker of lots of wine. I think that I probably do not naturally have much of a palate in this area, however. I can seldom detect the leather, smoke, green pepper and other unusual flavors mentioned in tasting notes, unless someone tells me to look for them first. Thus far, the only idea of this sort which has ever leapt right out at me on my own is that New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs taste a whole lot like grapefruit juice(in a nice way.) All of them, though- not one particular one. Which is, perhaps, suspect?
So although I have been tempted to take part in a Wine Blogging Wednesday, the thought of producing some tasting notes on my own is pretty daunting. I picked Like Wine for Chocolate to have a go, because of the cooking opportunities, basically. And also, I was curious, having heard that various expert types have said that wine does not go with chocolate at all.
I cheated in several ways. First, I scooted around the search engines to see what people tell you to drink with chocolate, pretty sure that dessert wines would be mentioned. My miniscule collection of wine I'm keeping for a special occasion includes a couple of nice ones-a tokaji and a beerenaulese (sp?). I figured I could open one for my brother's birthday and we could all have it with a good chocolate dessert. But whoops- the dessert wine proponents were saying to go for a red dessert wine. Who knew? (Probably everyone but me)
Port seemed to be a good choice, but I didn't have any, and it's pretty expensive. So I got some of this Mavrodaphne of Patras, from Achala Clauss, which someone (I forget who) had specifically recommended- for $6.99, on sale! It was even the sort this pundit said was getting hard to find. Is it cool? I'm not so sure. I find it troubling that I cannot find the year on it anywhere.
My second cheat is that I did not make the dense chocolate cake recommended. I was simply not in the mood. I think my choice is really right in the same area though. I made a very plain, intense bittersweet chocolate ice, with sugar, water, and callebaut chocolate and I served it with a flourless italian mocha almond torte. The cake recipe is basically a Mario Batali one, but I added some of my M of P, instead of the rum or Marsala called for, in the hope of aiding the wine match. These desserts were pretty well received. No one was terribly interested in the wine, except me. A lot of people pretty much ignore dessert wines, it seems.
The recipe for the chocolate ice has already been revealed in the first part of this story. And in a minute, I am going to tell you how to make the torte, which is soft like a cloud and tastes very sophisticated, with or without the bittersweet sorbet. But I am sort of excited, because, to my surprise I actually have something to say about the wine, and the pairing. This is it: This wine tastes a lot like chocolate and coffee, as does the dessert (less surprisingly, I suppose.) Also, the dessert and the wine taste better together than they do apart, which is a very nice discovery indeed.
In fact, before tasting it with the chocolate desserts, the wine was pushing my boundaries of decent. I was afraid I might be mentioning a likeness to cough syrup. With the desserts, it tastes quite a lot nicer and more complicated. Strange and interesting.
I do realize that this matchup is not clever of me, since the wine was recommended to go with chocolate by someone who presumably knows their stuff. But I didn't actually expect them to taste alike. Also, the coffee was not mentioned, but I'm entirely certain that the taste is there, in the wine, and not just in the cake. So this was all fun for me in the end.
On to the torte. The preparation is a little unusual, but not at all hard. I have a big pyrex bowl, which I set atop a 5 qt dutch oven of simmering water. I was able to remove the bowl when the cooked part of the batter prep was over, and fold the egg whites directly into that. So there wasn't even all that much cleanup.
You will need:
6 tbsps unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
5 tbsps instant espresso
6 tbsps dutched cocoa
6 tbsps mavrodaphne of patras- or sweet red wine of choice
1 1/2 cups finely ground, blanched toasted almonds
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan.
Place a large (preferably pyrex) bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water. Melt the butter in the bowl. Add the sugar and yolks, whisking away so you don't scramble the eggs, for about 5 minutes. The color will lighten. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients,except the egg whites, sifting the cocoa as you add it. Keep whisking until smooth. Remove bowl from pan and turn off heat.
Beat eggwhites to soft peaks. Fold into batter carefully, but thoroughly. Pour the batter into your cake pan. Bake about 30 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven, and cool, on rack, in pan for another half hour.It will continue to pull further from the sides of the pan, and be very easy to turn out. Do that, and dust with confectioner's sugar if desired. This is just very good indeed. Enhancements all around. Yum.