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Lindsey's Chocolate Cake with Sicilian Sabayon

(recipe, Alice Waters)


One of our favorite cakes is this very rich chocolate one developed by Lindsey Shere, the founding pastry chef at Chez Panisse. To mitigate the intensity of the chocolate flavor, we sometimes serve this tender and rich cake with lightly sweetened whipped cream, flavored with vanilla or Chartreuse, or an ice cream such as Cognac or vanilla. However, it is especially good with this slightly spicy, creamy, Sicilian-style sabayon.


    1. ½ lb. plus 2 Tbsp. (2¼ sticks) salted butter
    2. 7½ oz. bittersweet chocolate
    3. 1½ oz. unsweetened chocolate
    4. 6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
    5. 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
    6. 6 Tbsp. cake flour
    7. ½ tsp. cream of tartar
    1. 3 Tbsp. golden raisins, coarsely chopped
    2. ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. Marsala
    3. 6 egg yolks
    4. 5 Tbsp. sugar
    5. 1 cup heavy cream
    6. ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon


    1. Make the cake: Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment or waxed paper. Butter the paper and dust the pan with flour, shaking out the excess.
    2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    3. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and heat over barely simmering water. While the butter melts, chop the chocolate into small pieces. Add the chocolate to the butter and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is very smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
    4. Whisk the egg yolks with a wire whisk until just blended and beat in the sugar until just mixed. Whisk the yolks into the warm chocolate mixture and fold in the flour.
    5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar (if you are not using a copper bowl) and continue beating until soft, rounded peaks form. Fold the egg whites quickly into the chocolate mixture, taking care not to deflate them.
    6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The cake is done when the sides are set but the center of the cake is still soft.
    7. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan. The cake will develop cracks in the top as it bakes, and more will appear as it cools, but this is normal. When the cake has cooled to room temperature, you may cover the pan tightly with foil if you are not serving it right away. It will keep for a day or two.
    8. Make the sabayon: Combine the chopped raisins and 1 Tbsp. of the Marsala in a small bowl and set aside to soften.
    9. Have a stainless-steel mixing bowl ready in an ice bath.
    10. Warm the remaining Marsala over low heat in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan.
    11. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until the yolks are very pale in color and form a slowly dissolving ribbon when the whisk is lifted. Whisk in the warm Marsala and return the mixture to the saucepan.
    12. Continue beating constantly over low heat until the mixture thickens and wisps of steam arise from the surface, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour the mixture into the bowl on ice. (Be careful not to scrape any coagulated egg from the bottom of the saucepan.) Whisk until cool.
    13. In another bowl, whip the cream just until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture. Add the raisins and cinnamon.
    14. The sabayon may be refrigerated, but should be used within a couple of hours.
    15. To serve: Unmold the cake, peel off the paper, and place the cake on a plate, the more presentable side up. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with the sabayon.