Happy Monday everyone!  It feels so good to be back from my 7-day blogging hiatus.  Last week was an extremely busy work week for me, and usually I try to find time to blog everyday, but last Monday I decided to just take the whole week off so that I could focus on starting 2011 off on the right foot for my business.   Taking last week off from blogging proved even more beneficial for my business than I had anticipated:  I met with 4 new potential clients, finished up 2 website designs, and I caught up on some much needed bookkeeping.  To celebrate my productivity, I will be making a cake today!

I borrowed this recipe from one of my favorite French travel blogs, Girls Guide to Paris.  Bon appetit!

Chocolate Cake with Crème Fraîche
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz (Broadway).

Serves 12–16.

12 oz (340 g) high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup (160 ml) strong coffee or water
1/4 cup (60 g) crème fraîche
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly butter a 9- or 10-inch springform pan and wrap the outside of it with foil to make it watertight. Place the pan into a roasting pan wide enough to hold the cake pan and deep enough to hold at least an inch of water.

2. Put the chocolate and coffee or water in a large heatproof bowl, and place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, then remove the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool. Stir in the crème fraîche and vanilla.

3. Put the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the sugar and salt and whip on high speed until the mixture is thick and pale and holds its shape when dropped from the whisk, about 5 minutes. (You can use a handheld mixer, but it will take significantly longer for the eggs to reach optimal volume.)

4. With a large rubber spatula, fold about half of the egg mixture into the chocolate, then gently fold in the rest.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Set the cake pan in the roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Pour enough warm water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake is firm on the surface but still feels soft when gently tapped.

6. Carefully remove the cake pan from the water bath, take off the foil and cool the cake, still in its pan, on a rack. When it has cooled to room temperature, run a knife along the edges of the cake to separate it from the pan, and remove the outside of the springform.

To serve the cake, use a thin knife dipped in hot water to make thin slices (it’s very rich!), and wipe the blade clean between every cut. You can also use dental floss to cut it. Refrigerating the cake will make it easier to slice, but it does change the texture a bit, though not at all in a bad way! The cake will keep, well covered, at room temperature for a day, in the fridge for up to 5 days or well-wrapped and frozen for one month. Serve plain, or with ice cream, caramel sauce or whipped cream.

To view the full recipe detail from Girls Guide to Paris, click here.