Gramercy Tavern's Littleneck Clam Chowder With Bok Choy and New Potatoes
Peaches and Cream

David Lebovitz's Gateaux Bastille


It looks like a muffin or a sunken cupcake, but nothing about this delicious little cake even comes close to either one of those more pedestrian sweets. This luscious cakelet, courtesy of David Lebovitz's pastry chef genius, is like a mousse and a souffle and the lightest imaginable flourless chocolate confection all wrapped into one. Not only that, but it's made without butter or flour, and is crammed with finely diced prunes and bittersweet chocolate. Could it be - a dessert that's somewhat low in fat, full of fiber, and bursting with antioxidants, too? Okay, enough health talk. These gateaux bastille are absolutely incredible - and can be made with ingredients almost surely all found in the pantries of most homes.

Taken out of the oven and eaten warm, they practically dissolve on the tongue. But the delicate structure of the chocolate and eggs is surprisingly sturdy. If you can stand to not eat them all at once, the flavor develops over a day or two and becomes more and more complex. The rum-soaked prunes fill the chocolate with a fruity flavor that becomes only more pronounced as the hours go by. I'd say this recipe proves the axiom that sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, though, of course, I also believe that for these soft little cakes to really shine you must use high-quality chocolate. They can be whipped up in a flash, but of course might disappear in much less time than it took to make them...

Gâteaux Bastille
makes 12 individual cakes

For the prunes
6 medium-sized pitted prunes, cut into little-bitty, bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons dark rum

For the cakes
4 ½ ounces (125 gr) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup (50 ml) heavy or light cream
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt

1. In a small bowl, mix the prunes in the eau-de-vie. Cover, and let macerate for a few hours.
Butter and line a 12-cup muffin mold.

2. Preheat the oven to 375° F degrees. In a medium bowl set over simmering water, melt together the chocolate and cream. Remove from heat. Mix in the prunes and any liquor in the bowl remaining, then let cool to room temperature.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar at high-speed with a pinch of salt until thick, about 5 minutes.

4. Fold one-third of the beaten egg mixture into the chocolate, then fold in the remaining egg foam.

5. Divide batter between each muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes, until cakes are tender and still soft when you touch the top. Each will rise, then gently sigh down a bit. Remove from oven and cool a few minutes before removing the paper cake mold (use a scissors to cut it away).

6. Serve warm or at room temperature with very cold crème anglaise and perhaps a scattering of crisp-toasted sliced almonds.