Speakeasy Cake

April 26, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Posted in book review, cakes & tortes, sweet things | 14 Comments


Here’s the third recipe I made from Melissa Murphy’s cookbook The Sweet Melissa Baking Book (well actually the fourth–the ice cream in the photos is her brown sugar vanilla ice cream, and it is divine).  It’s a dense, moist chocolate cake that she calls the “Speakeasy” because of a whopping 2/3 cup of brandy in the batter!

It’s a cousin of Dorie’s Almost-Fudge Gâteau, but not quite as dark and fudgy.  If you prefer semi-sweet chocolate to bittersweet (and like a little booze with your chocolate), then you will like this one.


Speakeasy– makes one 8-inch cake
from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy. All rights reserved. Copyright © Melissa Murphy, 2008

For the cake:
6 ounces best-quality semisweet (58%) chocolate
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup brandy
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

For the chocolate glaze:
6 ounces best-quality semisweet (58%) chocolate
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Before you start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter an 8 x 2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with an 8-inch round of parchment paper.

To make the cake:
– In a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering, not boiling, water, melt the chocolate with the butter and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the brandy until smooth. Set aside to cool.

-Separate the eggs. Place the yolks in a large mixing bowl, and the whites in an electric mixer bowl.

– Add half of the sugar to the bowl with the yolks and whisk until thick. Add the chocolate mixture to the yolks and whisk to combine. Sift the flour, cinnamon, and salt over the chocolate batter and stir to combine.

-In the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, make a meringue by whipping the egg whites until foamy. In a slow steady stream, add the remaining sugar. Whip until the whites hold stiff but not dry peaks.

-Briskly stir one-third of the meringue into the chocolate mixture to lighten the batter. Gently fold the remaining two-thirds of the meringue into the batter until no streaks remain.

– Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spin the pan to level the batter. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (Do not do the skewer test until the cake has been baking for at least 70 minutes or you will deflate the batter!) Remove to a wire rack to cool before glazing. (Steph’s note: I made a half-recipe in a 6-inch cake pan and it took only 40 minutes to bake.)

To make the glaze:
– When the cake is cool enough to glaze, coarsely chop the chocolate and place it in a medium bowl.

-In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the heavy cream until scalding, or until the cream is steaming and tiny bubbles have formed along the edges. Do not boil.

-Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup.

To complete the cake:
-Place the cake upside down on a rack set over the prepared cookie sheet.

-Pour the glaze over the cake, letting the glaze spread itself. You may have to push it over the sides a bit, and use a small metal spatula or butter knife to smooth the sides. Try not to touch the top though, so it will be glossy and unmarred. Let the glaze set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Once the glaze is set, transfer the cake to a serving plate.

*The cake keeps in a cake saver at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, refrigerate for up to 1 week.


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  1. Oh, yum! I am all over this one! Will try it with the Peruvian Pisco though.

  2. Drool! Looks ubber good!

  3. That looks like a divine cake-so moist. And I love the name!

  4. Wow, 2/3 cup of brandy?! That is enough to grant the title of “speakeasy”… texture wise, I enjoy how light and almost spongy these kinds of cakes are. Takes the edge off the intense flavor.

  5. boozey chocolate cake?! who could resist?!

  6. This looks delicious! I’ll definitely have to try it since it’s similar to the gateau. I should also buy a copy of this book since everything you’ve made from it looks so good!

  7. oh wow, that looks amazing…

  8. Yum! I love her cookbook, and this is one cake I will make for sure!

  9. That looks so good! I may have to borrow that recipe and try it out myself.

  10. Certainly looks good.

  11. It looks so moist… YUM!

  12. This cake looks amazing! I love dense moiste chocolatey cake.
    I will most definitely have to try this SOON!

  13. Glad you made it as I was very tempted and now with your good review, I shall, if we don’t drink the brandy first…

  14. yum! i love alcohol infused goodies 🙂

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