For the last year or so, Bella and I have been in an informal book club, passing books back and forth, sitting down on a Friday night to watch the movie. For me, it’s a great excuse to read some really fun young adult novels. For her, it’s a chance to be welcomed to adult conversation. For both of us, it’s a great time.
It all started with the Hunger Games. We both devoured the books and moved on to the Divergent series. Steve jumped into the fun of Divergent, and we all took faction tests to see who was Dauntless, who was Erudite, who was Candor and who was Amity. Being drab, dressed in gray, Abnegation was not even a possibility. The first Divergent book is brilliant. The second is okay. The third is terrible, as if Veronica Roth was thoroughly bored and sick of the premise. Bella loved all three and even discussing our difference in opinion has made for great dinner conversation.
This weekend, the Divergent movie comes out. Bella has been stalking the web for news and leaked commercials for the movie. I’ve been right there along with her.
In case you’re not familiar with the Divergent series, it’s set in future day Chicago. Society has been split into four factions, each of which plays a particular role. Amity farms, Dauntless protects, Erudite does research, and Abnegation helps Erudite rule. Teens choose which faction to join on their 16th birthday, deciding whether or not to leave their family forever.
Life in Dauntless is dangerous, filled with jumping from speeding trains and hand to hand combat. Just to be admitted, you have to jump off a building. But there is a sweet reward with all that danger: Dauntless Chocolate Cake. Served at all meals, it’s universally adored, an unbelievably rich treat for those in Abnegation who’ve never had dessert.
The book is short on recipes and details about the cake, other than depicting the near-orgasmic reactions of all who eat it. If I were pledging Dauntless, here’s how I hope the cake would be made. Three rich chocolate layers, Nutella sandwiched between, and glossy ganache on top. Chocolate perfection and definitely great fuel for dangerous nights. Can’t wait to see the movie version of the Dauntless Cake this weekend! Bella is planning on seeing it twice before Sunday. Once on Friday night with her best friend, and again on Sunday with her embarrassing mother. And some time in between, she’ll be making her own version of the Dauntless Cake. Bring it all on. I can’t wait.
- For the Cake Layers:
- 2 ounces (roughly ½ Cup) Cocoa Powder
- 2 ounces of semi sweet chocolate, cut into chunks
- 1 stick (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) of Butter
- 1½ Cups Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla
- 1½ cups of all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces of sour cream
- 1 cup of milk
- For the Layers:
- 1 large jar of Nutella
- For the Ganache Drippings:
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon of salted butter
- 8 ounces of your favorite semi sweet chocolate
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease two 9 inch round baking pans.
- Melt two ounces of semi sweet chocolate in the microwave, heating for 30 seconds and mixing and repeating until just melted. About 90 seconds should do it.
- In a stand mixer or large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, beating until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add the melted chocolate and the sour cream. Beat for another 2 minutes.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl: cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- Add a third of the dry ingredient mixture to the batter. Mix until just blended. Now add a third of the milk. Mix until just blended. Continue alternating between dry ingredients and milk, ⅓ at a time, until all is incorporated. Try to mix as little as possible to prevent gluten from developing which will make your cake more dense.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool completely.
- Once the cakes are completely cool, carefully cut each into 2 layers using a serrated knife. Place your hand on the top and go for it, without worrying too much about being even or losing crumbs. This is a Dauntless Cake, not a Cake Boss final production. Crumbs are welcome.
- Now make the ganache. In a microwave, heat the heavy cream and butter for 2 minutes until really warm but not boiling. Add the chocolate bits into the hot heavy cream and stir immediately with a wooden spoon, gently, to melt the chocolate. It will look like a failure, but I promise the chocolate will melt into a beautiful, glistening ganache.
- Lay the bottom slice on your serving dish. Spoon Nutella on top. Put a second layer on top. Spoon Nutella on top. Add the third layer. More Nutella. Finally, place the fourth layer on top. Drizzle the ganache all over it. Hopefully you'll have enough to cover the top and drizzle down the sides, giving everyone a little more ganache but also plenty of view of the layers.
- Serve it immediately, or let it keep until the next Dauntless raid is over. Life is short. No point in waiting until dessert.
P.S. Our shared reading has continued beyond these two series. Recently, we’ve been binging on the Mortal Instruments series and have passed tissues back and forth while reading The Book Thief. Next up is The Fault in our Stars.