I found this recipe for one of the world’s easiest but most delicious desserts in a rather fabulous book, by chef and “culinary philosopher” Gioacchino Scognamiglio, called Il Chichibio: Ovvero Poesia Della Cucina, which translates as “The Gallant: or the Poetry of Cooking” (and Chichibio, I should also tell you, was a rakish Venetian cook in Boccaccio’s Decameron). At Scognamiglio’s instigation, I went to great lengths to acquire a bottle of Elisir San Marzano, which has a peculiarly Italian, chocolate-coffee-herbal hit. Feel free to use coffee liqueur or rum or, better still, a mixture of the two in its place. This is a no-churn affair. You mix everything together, wodge it into a loaf pan, freeze, and you’re done. I like this with a few raspberries to tumble around and a chocolate sauce to Jackson Pollock over it.
The technique Chef Richard uses in his version of the traditional Yule log is inspired for eliminating the pesky problem of the cake cracking as you roll it. Another bonus is that his isn't as time-consuming and difficult as some. While the recipe appears long, there are few ingredients, and the directions are clear and easy. And the cake is so very good!
This cake is better with a day of rest, tightly wrapped, kept at room temperature; or it keeps frozen up to 6 months. You can marinate the fruits, caramelize the pears, and make the sauce ahead.
I adore the deceptive plainness of gingerbread. It is definitively unfancy, and yet the flavor is so rich, and its deep-toned tang so subtle. Here the tang is a little more emphatic, as sour cream and licorice-evocative Guinness give heady lift, but still this is — for all the treacly sugar and pungent spices — gentle and cozy-making, though almost alarmingly addictive.
Moist, dark, spicy, but not too sweet, this is classic gingerbread. The addition of black pepper has a historical hook: it was a common ingredient in gingerbreads of the past. We think it brings alive the other spices.
In the early 1500s, Montezuma in his Mexico City palace drank chocolate daily, usually with red chile in it. Apparently the king knew that chile, in small amounts, amplifies and enriches the taste of chocolate. So does Jane Butel, the noted cookbook author and specialist in Mexican cookery, who generously provided the recipe from which this cake was adapted. At The Fort, it's a centerpiece of a birthday and anniversary ritual from which good-natured celebrants emerge with a photo of themselves in a horned buffalo or coyote hat.
How to make a cake that will light up your party -- literally.
Get the leavening right and you'll have lighter, finer textured cakes.