A bain-marie is key to Lefebvre's mousse-like chocolate cake.
When Ludo Lefebvre demands to know just who doesn't like chocolate cake, the answer is probably not you. Which is why the chocolate cake recipe the acclaimed French chef demonstrates in the latest episode of Ludo à la Maison is going to leave you extremely satisfied. And that's not just because it's light enough to resemble a kind of "mousse soufflé." No, it's because as the chocolate cake bakes, Lefebvre will teach you the perfect chocolate cake-cocktail paring: a Grey Goose Espresso Martini.
First, Lefebvre takes 70% cocoa chocolate and unsalted butter, and places them in a bain-marie—a type of steamer made by putting a bowl over a pot of boiling water, which allows for more gentler and precise heating. As that melts, he fills a mixing bowl with eggs and a good amount of sugar, and whips it in a stand mixer until its smooth and creamy, and, he says, the volume has doubled.
After reminiscing about his mom's chocolate cake, which the young chef would head to the fridge for in the middle of the night, Lefebvre demonstrates how the chocolate and butter melt and dissolve together. He then returns to the egg/sugar mix, and it's thick enough, adds flour, mixes "very well," and then adds baking powder, mixing even more.
With the butter and chocolate fully melted, he adds it to the egg mixture, and mixes that by hand, slowly. "Make sure it goes to the bottom," he says of the chocolate, before adding the whole mixture to a buttered cake pan (leaving some room at the top for it to expand), and puts it in the oven at 400 degrees.
Now, according to Lefebvre, is the time to make your cocktail. While some like to pair chocolate cake with wine, Lefebvre says, "I love espresso and chocolate together." He mixes 1.5 oz of vodka, .75 oz of coffee liqueur, 1 oz espresso, and a pinch of fleur de sel, then shakes. With that done, he pulls out the cake, checks for doneness with a knife, and slices off a steaming hot piece of the incredibly fluffy cake for a post-dinner treat that, he says, is "like a happy ending" to any meal.