Freckled Angel

My son, Michael, loved two cakes when he was growing up: Duncan Hines chocolate and angel food. This was a variation I created for him, to combine his favorite texture with his favorite flavor. Adding the bitter chocolate is great for tempering the inevitable sweetness of angel food cake. These days I often make this cake for family members and friends who are trying to watch their cholesterol. Eating this cake, they feel at once quite indulged and virtuous. I am pleased to provide this special recipe as an excellent option for a Father’s Day dessert.

Preheat the oven to: 350°F.
Baking time: 40 minutes
INGREDIENTS MEASURE WEIGHT
room temperature volume ounces grams
sugar, preferably superfine, divided cups 10.5 ounces 300 grams
sifted cake flour 1 cup (sifted into the cup and leveled off) 3.5 ounces 100 grams
salt ¾ teaspoon
16 large egg whites 2 liquid cups 17 ounces 480 grams
cream of tartar 2 teaspoons 6 grams
pure vanilla extract 4 teaspoons
unsweetened chocolate, grated* 2 ounces 56 grams

*To grate chocolate, make sure that it is cold or it will melt rather than form fine particles. You can use a hand grater, Mouli grater or a food processor. If using a food processor, break the chocolate into small pieces before processing.

FINISHED HEIGHT: 4 inches high in the middle.

KEEPS: 3 days at room temperature wrapped airtight; 10 days refrigerated; freezing toughens the texture.
COMPLEMENTARY ADORNMENTS: A light sprinkling of cocoa. Lacy drizzles of melted chocolate or fresh flowers.

Method

At least 15 minutes before baking, position an oven rack at the lowest level and preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup of the sugar, the flour and salt and whisk to blend well. Sift the remaining sugar onto a piece of waxed paper.

In a large mixing bowl, preferably with the whisk beater of a heavy-duty mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the sifted sugar, and beat until very stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.

Dust the flour mixture over the beaten whites ¼ cup at a time, and with a large wire whisk, slotted skimmer or large rubber spatula, fold it in quickly but gently. It is not necessary to incorporate every speck, until the last addition. Add the vanilla and grated chocolate and fold them in until evenly incorporated.

Spread a thin layer of batter onto the sides of the tube pan to ensure smooth sides. Pour the rest of the batter into the pan. (It will reach almost to the top.) Run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets and smooth the surface. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown, a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. (During baking, the center will rise above the pan but it sinks when the cake is done. After cooling it will be level with the sides of the pan. The surface will have deep cracks like a soufflé.)

Immediately invert the pan, placing the tube opening over the neck of a soda or wine bottle to suspend it well above the counter, and cool the cake completely in the pan, about 1½ hours.

Loosen the sides with a long metal spatula and remove the center core of the pan. Dislodge the cake from the bottom and center core with a metal spatula or thin sharp knife. (A wire cake tester works well around the core. To keep the sides attractive, press the spatula against the sides of the pan.) Invert the cake onto a flat plate covered with plastic wrap and reinvert it onto a serving plate.

For the fluffiest texture, use an angel food fork or two forks back to back to cut the cake. Alternatively, use a serrated knife but hold the cake gently without compressing it as you cut.

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