MAY 1999

Chocolate-Rum Chiffon Cake

Rocky Road Fudge

Laura's Bittersweet Chocolate Cream Pie

Espresso-Chip Meringues

Sweet Spot


Chocolate-Rum Chiffon Cake

Tips: A high, light-textured chocolate cake with a bit of rum flavor, nice for spring. You'll need a 10" by 4" tall two-piece tube pan (the sides are one piece, and the bottom and tube are another), as well as a sturdy, long-necked bottle for after baking. Foam-type cakes, such as this one, are hung upside down after baking to cool. It is important here to lose as little air as possible when incorporating the meringue, so you'll want to fold it (not stir or beat it) into the batter gently but quickly and thoroughly. A lovely cake for a wedding shower or for Mom on Mother's Day--if you wish, sift a bit of confectioners' sugar over the top just before serving.

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1-2/3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. dark rum
  • 1/2 cup corn OR safflower oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 eggs, graded "large", separated, plus 2 egg whites, all at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

In medium heatproof bowl, gradually whisk boiling water into cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.

Adjust rack so that it is one-third up from bottom of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Have ready a cookie sheet; the tube pan you use must fit on the sheet. Line the sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. Assemble the tube pan, but do not grease or flour it.

Into large bowl, sift cake flour, 1 cup sugar (reserve remainder), baking powder, and salt. Add COOLED cocoa mixture, rum, egg yolks, oil, and vanilla. With large, sturdy whisk or hand-held electric mixer, beat briefly just until smooth (use a low speed if using the mixer). If using the same beaters to beat the egg whites, they must be washed thoroughly (with soap), rinsed well, and dried completely before the whites are beaten.

In non-plastic, clean bowl of about 4-1/2 quart capacity, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. With clean beater(s), beat at high speed until very foamy and white. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup sugar, about 2 Tbsp. at a time, beating at high speed after each addition. Continue beating at high speed until this meringue forms stiff peaks.

With large spatula, gently fold about one-third of the meringue into the cocoa-yolk mixture (don't be too thorough). Turn this mixture back into the remaining meringue; gently but quickly and thoroughly fold together just until no white streaks show in the batter. Turn into tube pan and level batter. With a flat knife, quickly cut through the batter a few times to rid it of any very large air bubbles. Place filled pan on lined baking sheet, then place the whole into the preheated oven.

While cake bakes, ready a cooling rack and a sturdy, clean, long-necked, empty bottle. Start checking cake for doneness after about 35 minutes (do not open the oven door much, if at all, before that time). When done, the cake should be well-risen (possibly above the edge of the pan), and it will spring back when touched lightly on top with a fingertip. A toothpick inserted into the tallest part of the cake will emerge with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Baking time will be 45 to 55 minutes.

When done, remove cake from oven. Carefully, using pot holders, pick up the cake and bottle. Insert the neck of the bottle, open side down, into the open tube of the pan, then gently turn the cake upside down so it rests on the neck of the bottle (I place the whole on a cake rack). The cake will probably rest at an angle on the bottle neck--OK. Let cool undisturbed and out of drafts. During this time, the cake may shrink slightly and pull away from the pan sides in places--OK.

When cake is completely cooled, gently and carefully remove tube pan from bottle neck and turn right side up. Carefully loosen cake from pan sides and tube, using a plastic knife so you won't scratch your pan and avoiding an up-and-down motion on the cake sides. Turn cake out of pan onto serving plate (it will be served upside down). If bottom of cake sticks to pan, hold serving plate and pan together, and bang GENTLY on table to loosen cake bottom (I have not had this trouble with this particular cake, though). Store airtight at room temperature for up to three days or freeze.

12-16 servings

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