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Strawberries and Cherries in Illinois

The end of June in Southern California means the farmer’s market is bustling with fruit, bright juicy peaches from Regier Farms, sweet succulent strawberries from Harry’s Berries, and oh-so-sweet Santa Rosa Plums. Walking through the markets in Chicago, my taste buds yearn for these fruits, but here, on the other side of the country, the farmer’s offer instead cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. Stone fruit is nowhere to be seen, and the strawberries, lighter varieties that seem to hold more water, pale in comparison. Still fruit is fruit, and fruit is glorious.

One way to showcase the fruit is with this flourless chocolate cake. Although chocolate is often thought to be heavy, using milk chocolate gives the cake a lighter taste and the airy texture imparted from the whipped and folded egg yolks and whites of the cake makes it the perfect ending to a summer dinner party. Tossing the berries in sugar and lime juice brightens the fruit up, and makes a nice topping for the torte. Enjoy!

Chocolate flourless cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Berries, adapted from Bon Appetit, January 1999
For cake
12 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the fruit
2 cups strawberries, cleaned and quartered
2 cups cherries, halved and pitted
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 limes
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and shake it around the inside of the pan, making sure the the bottom and sides are evenly covered in a thin layer of sugar. Wrap the outside of the pan with tin foil and place the pan on a sheet tray. Set aside.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a double boiler on low heat, or carefully in a microwave, until melted completely and smooth. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.

3. Place the egg yolks and 6 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl and using a hand held mixer, mix on low speed until mixture is thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Add a small amount of the chocolate to the yolks, and fold to combine. Fold in half of the remaining chocolate, combine and then add the last of the chocolate. Fold in the vanilla and the 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

4. In a clean bowl, using clean and dry beaters or mixer, mix the egg whites on low speed until they are frothy. Slowly rain in the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar as you mix the whites, until medium-firm peaks form. The whites should become shiny and smooth. Add 1/3 of the whites to the chocolate mixture and combine thoroughly. Add an additional 1/2 of the whites to the chocolate and carefully fold the mixtures together. Add the remaining whites and fold to combine. Pour the batter in the prepared pan.

5. Place cake on center shelf of over, and bake until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack (cake will fall).

6. While cake is cooling, combine the fruits, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Zest the limes over the fruit and then juice the limes into the fruit. Let sit. Once cake is completely cool, use a small knife to cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Using a long, off-set spatula, carefully lift the cake off of the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake stand. Fill the inside cavity of the cake, where it has fallen with the fruit.

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