Everyone needs a go-to chocolate cake that wins rave reviews and feeds feelings, and Ruth Reichl's Jeweled Chocolate Cake is delicious and easy to make. This chocolate cake recipe is recommended by former New York Times Restaurant Critic and Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine. What are you waiting for?
Ruth Reichl's Jeweled Chocolate Cake is legendary. It's legendary to her staff from Gourmet magazine, where she worked as an editor for 10 years. It's legendary to anyone who's read her memoir, Save Me the Plums, and relished the story of Ruth's first day time visiting the testing kitchen at Gourmet Magazine. When she sampled this cake, she immediately knew what they needed to tweak.
But the cake is most legendary to her son Nick who had her get the recipe from the Paris cafe where they first enjoyed it. She then began baking it regularly for him, making her sneakily prepared to critique Gourmet's treatment of the recipe.
Ruth Reichl has been one of my closest friends this year. She just doesn't know it yet. I can't get enough of her prose, most of which climaxes in a decadent recipe. Ruth Reichl does both food and stories really well. And in this season, I've found her writing especially meaningful.
I had long assumed that you read cookbooks in the kitchen. Then I discovered that my favorite place to read about food was in my bed, late at night. Surrounded by comfort and quietly inviting my body to rest, I would enter Ruth's world. She was a hippie, then a waitress, then a food critic, then a magazine editor, and most recently a cookbook writer. She's also written a memoir about her experiences with food growing up and another one about her complicated feelings about her mom.
I read everything she writes because I like her honesty. She talks about life and careers that involve clothing budgets and car service with a down-to-earth candor. Then she invites you into the kitchen to work things out.
I remember being in middle school and waking up in a mood. I can't recall if things were tough at school, with friends, or with my outfit. It was middle school. But my mom took my Aunt Sharon's famous chocolate cake out of the fridge, cut a big slice, and poured me a glass of milk. "Sometimes, you just need chocolate cake for breakfast."
Chocolate cake meets a need. I'm all about less sugar and more fiber. But I've also lived long enough to know the particular comfort of chocolate cake. And I love how Ruth Reichl describes this chocolate cake with the language of relationship:
"Then the fork met my mouth, and my body was flooded with sensations as the dark, dense, near-bitterness of the cake collided with the crackling sweetness of the praline. The flavors tumbled about, a sensory circus that was finally tamed by the rich smoothness of the frosting. It was all I could do to keep from reaching for a second bite, extremely hard to hide my smile. I knew this cake. "
Save Me the Plums, P.63
Bless the food writers. They meet us where we are. Ready to eat.
Recipe Notes: This recipe was adapted from Cafe Mezzo in Paris. It's an amazing chocolate cake, but the crushed-praline topping makes it "jeweled," and in Ruth Reichl's words, "spectacular."
Ruth Reichl's famous chocolate treat will meet you wherever you are.
cocoa powder, you'll need a little more for dusting pan
high-quality bittersweet chocolate
slivered, blanched almonds
Jeweled Chocolate Cake
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Next, butter the paper and dust it with cocoa powder.
Melt the chocolate with cocoa, butter, oil, and water over low heat. Stir the mixture until smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar.
Cool completely, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and whisk into the chocolate mixture. Shake the buttermilk well, and stir that into the batter.
Pour the batter into the pan. Bake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes or until a fork or toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out, peel the parchment from the bottom, and let it cool completely.
Toast almonds and hazelnuts in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. (If you’re us¬ing hazelnuts with skins, put hazelnuts with skins in a towel and a towel and rub the skins off. But don't stress over it. Some skins can still be on.)
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring until it begins to darken, swirling the pan until the mixture turns gold. You'll feel like you're waiting for a while for the mixture to darken, but then it goes quickly, so keep your eyes on it, or it will burn. Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in the nut mixture.
Pour onto a baking sheet that you’ve lined with foil or parchment paper. Spread nuts evenly. Make sure you use an oven mitt—hot sugar burns HURT. Let topping cool completely
Break topping into pieces. Put pieces in a plastic bag, and smash with a rolling pin until you have crushed nuts. Sprinkle over topping the frosting, adding both crunch and flavor.
Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar into 1 cup of mascarpone. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and heap the crushed nuts on top.
slice your round through the middle to make two even halves for a layer cake. Or add whatever nuts you'd like.