1 1/4 cups pastry or cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz/170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup whiskey, warmed slightly
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Ice cream or whipped cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set an 8 by 2 1/2-inch ring on it. Wrap an 8-inch cardboard cake round with foil and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and the baking soda. Set aside. In a double boiler or a metal bowl placed over simmering water, melt the chocolate. Keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, with the paddle of an electric mixer, cream the butter until light. Gradually add 1 cup sugar and continue to cream the butter until the mixture is light and fluffy. (It is very important to beat the mixture long enough so it really is fluffy.)
4. One at a time, beat in the egg yolks; then, beat in the whiskey and the vanilla. Stop the machine and scrape in the melted chocolate. Continue to mix until well combined. Remove the bowl from the machine and use a rubber spatula to fold in half the flour mixture. Fold in the remaining flour.
5. With a clean whisk and bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until the egg whites are shiny and firm, but not stiff. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake ring and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and immediately place the foil-covered cardboard round on top of the ring and, holding the round and the baking sheet together with heatproof pads or oven gloves, invert them. Lift off the baking sheet at once; run a sharp knife around the sides of the cake, loosening the cake from the ring, but do not remove the ring from the cake. Let the cake cool completely on a rack. Then, carefully lift off the ring.
7. Dust the cake with sifted powdered sugar, cut into thin wedges, and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
Makes 8-12 servings.
Date: November 18, 2002