I used to wait for happiness, imagining it will just tap on my shoulder like a mysterious visitor one day and then suddenly I’ll be completely happy. I thought that to be happy I first needed to get all my ducks in a row: I’ll be happy when I find my perfect mate. I’ll be happy when I get my degree. I’ll be happy when I get to be a mother. And even though one by one I kept achieving those things, and they made me happy, it never lasted too long, and I promptly found some other thing that was missing from my perfect mosaic. At each given moment there was always something that wasn’t exactly right in my life – my body was giving me grief in one way or the other, my relationships weren’t going the way I wanted them to, people I cared about were facing problems. And so I kept waiting for each of these things to resolve so I could let out a sigh of relief and give myself permission to be happy. I kept waiting for that mysterious visitor to please finally knock on my door…and it never did.
It took me years to stop waiting. It was obvious the waiting game wasn’t working too well, but it still took me forever to *get* that nothing and nobody from outside will ever bring me happiness, and that by waiting there is nothing to gain and everything to lose. The moment I stopped looking far away into the future and shifted my eyes to here and now I was astonished to see I was surrounded by good things, and I felt grateful. And happiness? There it was… It was me who’s been pushing it away waiting for something else…something big… something who-knows-what. It was a revelation, really. I was in charge, I could let it in or keep it out. Just by shifting my focus, or doing things that bring me joy I’m able to make myself happy. Not for long, just in this moment… but if I so choose, then also the next… and the next.
This weekend’s happiness project is simple: La Bête Noire, flourless chocolate torte. Nothing but butter, eggs, and tons and tons of dark chocolate. Bête Noire translates to Black Beast, and the name suits the dessert well – each slice tastes like a delicious giant truffle. You can serve it as it is, and it certainly won’t be missing anything, but I added a chocolate ganache topping and pooled dark cherry sauce around, because we had it served that way at a restaurant. It was delicious – the tart cherry sauce complements the chocolate beautifully, but since the torte itself is very-very rich, it was a bit too much I think. I liked it better with just a dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream and some raspberries on the side. Either way, it’s a wonderful dessert and a great way to sweeten up your weekend and get more chocolate into your life. And as I cut into its creamy smoothness, I’ll let you on a secret: Happiness is chocolate. And three guys each with a spoon in hand eagerly waiting to devour the edges of a cake. Who knew? 🙂
La Bête Noire with Chocolate Ganache and Black Cherry Sauce
- 1 cup (250 ml, 8 oz.) water
- ¾ cup (150 g, 5.25 oz.) granulated sugar
- 9 tablespoons (126 g, 4.5 oz.) unsalted butter, diced
- 6 eggs
- 500 g (18 oz.) good quality bittersweet dark chocolate, grated or chopped
- 1 cup (50 ml, 8 oz.) heavy cream
- 225 g (8 oz.) good quality bittersweet dark chocolate, grated or chopped
- 2 tablespoons (28 g, 1 oz.) unsalted butter
Black Cherry Sauce:
- 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved (I used frozen)
- ½ cup (125 ml, 4 oz.) water
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon peel
- 2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry brandy)
+ whipped cream/raspberries/strawberries – for serving
- To make the torte, line a 10-inch (25 cm) round springform pan with parchment paper and butter and sugar the sides. Lightly butter the parchment paper as well. Take three layers of heavy duty aluminum foil and place the springform pan on top. Bring the foil up and around the pan, and crimp and press it into place. The cake will be baked in water bath, and the foil serves as a protective barrier, ensuring the water won’t seep into the batter. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176 °C).
- Combine water and sugar in a deep saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan melt the butter. Add in the chopped chocolate and stir to melt the chocolate. Whisk sugar syrup into the chocolate. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm. One by one add in the eggs, mixing well after each addition. Pour batter into the springform pan and place the springform pan into a large roasting pan. Carefully pour water into the big pan, so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
- Bake the cake for about 50 minutes, until the center no longer moves when the pan is gently shaken. The cake will look moist. Remove the springform pan from the bigger pan, and leave the cake in the springform pan to cool completely.
- After the cake has cooled, it will pull away from the sides of the pan. Carefully remove the cake from the springform pan, invert it, and take off the parchment paper. Wash the pan and put the cake back in and close the springform mechanism.
- Make the ganache: Bring cream and butter to a boil. Remove from heat, add in the chopped chocolate, and whisk the mixture until it’s smooth and shiny. Let the ganache cool a bit before pouring it onto the cake in the pan. Shake the pan gently; the ganache will spread nicely all over the cake and the sides. Place the cake, still in pan, into the refrigerator, and chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- To make the Black Cherry Sauce, blend the cherries with water and sugar until smooth. Transfer the fruit mixture into a saucepan, add in the remaining ingredients except the kirsch, and cook, stirring, until the water evaporates and the sauce thickens to your liking – about 10 minutes. Take the sauce off the heat, pour in the kirsch, and let cool. (The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated; warm up a little before serving.)
- When ready to serve, run the knife around the edges of the cake, release the springform mechanism, and carefully remove the cake out of the pan. Cut the cake into small portions, and serve with whipped cream, raspberries, or the black cherry sauce.