Tag Archives: Bain Marie

La Bête Noire: An Elegant, Decadent & Unforgettable Chocolate Dessert

La Bête NoireJust one bite of this amazingly fudgy, impossibly creamy, positively addicting cake is proof positive of the healing power of chocolate.” 
Bon Appetit magazine, September 2006

On this Christmas Eve, I have a quick post for you that is all chocolate.  My bookshelf holds a well-used issue of a Bon Appetit magazine; the cover shot features a piece of the most decadent, rich and fudgy flourless chocolate cake that is aptly named La Bête Noire, which translates to “The Black Beast”.  I have served it many times for special occasions and it never disappoints.  This year it was the perfect finale for a Christmas dinner feast with friends.  The bottom layer of the cake consists of a flourless chocolate cake and to make it even more luxurious, a layer of ganache (cream and chocolate) is spread over the top. Whether it’s for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, a Birthday or Dinner party, La Bête Noire is one of my favorite elegant desserts.  Someday when I find a 5” springform pan I may reduce the recipe by half, but for now I always make the full recipe of 16 slices of chocolate heaven.

The recipe may seem daunting, but it’s fairly simple to make as you can see below.  It’s not included in this post but you can easily view and print the recipe here. To get started, you’ll need to prepare the springform pan for a bain marie, or water bath.  Three pieces of foil are wrapped around the sides, which help protect the batter from the water and provide insulation during cooking.Foil-wrap the springform pan_Text

For the batter, I melt the butter first and then stir in the chocolate for easier melting.  I used 12 ounces (about 2 cups) of 60% cacao chocolate chips and 6 ounces (about 1 cup) of semi-sweet chips.Cake Batter_ Melted Butter & Chocolate

Simple syrup is whisked in and then some eggs – the batter is done and ready to be poured into the pan.Finished Batter

A classic cooking method, the recipe uses a bain marie, or water bath, to cook the delicate cake.  Now you can see why so much foil is needed around the springform pan.
Place the springform pan in the bottom of a large roasting pan, pour the batter into the springform pan and then pour hot water into the roasting pan, enough so it reaches halfway up the side of the cake pan.  Bake for 50 minutes.Cake Batter in Bain Marie

After cooking, the foil is removed from the sides and the cake cools completely.Bottom Layer_Cooling

The decadent finish: a layer of Ganache is spread over the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

Pour Ganache over Cake

Serve with fresh whipped cream (if you have on hand, use a fresh vanilla bean for more flavor!) and savor every bite.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  I hope your celebrations are filled with chocolate, love, peace, joy and happy times.

Eat well and share the love!Logo Foodie for Two

Snow in DecemberWe’re excited that snow is in the forecast this Christmas Eve, plus we’re expecting a White Christmas tomorrow!  And thankfully, after being without heat for the last five days, our heater is being replaced this afternoon – sweet.


Decadent Caramel Sauce: Slow-Cooked Dulce de Leche

Ah, dulce de leche – this caramel sauce is delightfully decadent and can be made at home from a can of sweetened condensed milk.  Loosely translated, it means milk jam, and is traditionally used in South American desserts.  Cooked slowly over a long period of time, the condensed milk becomes a thick caramelized sauce for an unforgettable sweet treat that can be enjoyed in many different ways.  I thought it would be perfect with ice cream and made a simple vanilla sundae with dulce de leche, chopped pretzels and topped it with a cherry (I had some leftover from my cocktail post).  The sauce has a caramel, butterscotch flavor and the pretzels add a fun, unusual salty flavor in contrast to the sweet vanilla ice cream –it’s a different twist on the classic sundae.

Most of the dulce de leche recipes that I have seen call for boiling or baking an unopened can of condensed milk in water for 3 to 4 hours; this method can be dangerous if not attended to properly, resulting in an exploded can.  That alone, not to mention the time requirement, made me shy away from the process.  Thankfully I found references online that described a bain marie (water bath) and microwave method, both much safer and quicker than the boiling-in-the-can method.  I used the bain marie process, which took an hour and a half and was relatively easy to do.  I haven’t tried the microwave method yet and will probably opt for that next time.  The microwave directions call for just 30 minutes total cooking time, with stirring every few minutes.  You want the end result to be a light caramel color that is just thick enough to pour.  It makes about 1 cup of sauce and will store in the refrigerator (in a sealed container) for about 4 weeks, although I doubt it will last that long before it is eaten up!

For a healthier option, I sliced some honeycrisp apples – they have a crisp, firm texture with lots sweet juicy flavor – drizzled a bit of the sauce on them and added some Marcona almonds for a nice crunch.   The dulce de leche is also a star ingredient for the toffee in the English Banoffee pie, a mouth-watering dessert I recently saw recreated on Chuck’s Day Off (he is my new TV/DVR indulgence).   The options for dulce de leche are endless, even by the spoonful – sinfully delicious! 

Eat well and share the love!

Dulce de Leche
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

One 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Bain Marie/Water Bath Method:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 

Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a glass or ceramic pie plate, or small baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Place in a roasting pan or large pyrex baking dish and fill with hot water until it reaches halfway up the pie plate/baking dish.

Bake for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours until sauce is caramel colored and thick enough to pour.  Check the water level during cooking and add more as necessary.  Remove from the oven and take the dish out of the roasting pan/water; stir or whisk well and let the dulce de leche cool.

Store the dulce de leche in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.  To serve, gently warm in the microwave or a water bath.

Microwave Method:
Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a 2 quart glass measuring cup.  Cook on medium power (50%) for 2 minutes, stir well and repeat.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes on medium-low power (30%) until caramel colored and thick enough to pour, stirring well every 4 minutes and then every 2 minutes during the last 5 or 6 minutes.

Let cool; store the dulce de leche in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.  To serve, gently warm in the microwave or a water bath.