Holiday Entertaining Guide - Page 46 - A sweet start

Holiday Entertaining Guide
- Page 46
A sweet start
Here’s a grand idea: Let’s end this challenging year, and then start a more promising new year, with chocolate. I’m making a double dark-chocolate version of our family’s favorite German chocolate cake for a New Year’s Eve party.Then, at the stroke of midnight, I’ll serve chocolate-covered grapes alongside a very dry rosé Champagne. How sweet is that?

Nowadays, I bake, as I cook, more simply. I also serve smaller portions. Lately, I find making a single cake layer satisfies as much as its multi-tiered counterpart.This dark, yet light, chocolate cake employs all kinds of noble baking skills. I start with readying the proper pan for the recipe. Using the right size baking pan truly means the difference between success and disaster.

My fellow bakers (a sister and a girlfriend) tested this recipe with several sizes of baking pans. I even ordered springform pans from Amazon one Sunday morning for evening delivery and cake baking. Turns out, the recipe that follows works well in several pan sizes ranging from 81/2- to 9- or 10-inch springform or an 8-inch square. My favorite?The 10-inch springform pan for a terrific cake-to-frosting ratio:The shorter cake means lots of ooeygooey goodness in every bite.The straight sides of springform pans give the cake a professional appearance. Unmolding the cake proves nearly foolproof.

Good baking starts with fresh ingredients —unsalted sweet butter, fresh baking soda, unbleached flour and good chocolate. Don’t cut corners on the process either: Properly creamed butter and sugar mean a cake with lightness and good structure. Likewise, beaten whites, made stable with some sugar, help