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November 21, 2014

Make It Ahead

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng

When I first heard about the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook, I could hardly contain my excitement. With Ina Garten’s easy way of cooking and her foolproof recipes, home entertaining is a breeze. She not only makes it look easy, she also teaches you the essential skills of stress-free entertaining, too. In that vein, her latest cookbook, “Make It Ahead,” is a much-needed addition on any home cook’s bookshelf. Frequent entertainers already know that throwing a dinner party means making some dishes ahead. The question is which dishes prepared in advance will be just as tasty as those freshly whipped up? With 150 recipes, the book delivers plenty of answers, from truffled chicken liver mousse to grilled New York strip steaks, twice-baked sweet potatoes and tres leches cake with berries. Some of my favorites are the garlic and herb roasted shrimp, zucchini basil soup and crusty baked potatoes with whipped feta. Although I found many recipes to be heavy, I modified them by eliminating the cheese. Because the base recipes were super easy to work with, the modifications were winners, too. Check out two sample recipes for asparagus and prosciutto bundles and the decadent (gluten-free!) chocolate cake.

Decadent (Gluten-Free!) Chocolate Cake

Decadent (Gluten-Free!) Chocolate Cake

Ina Garten

Reprinted from Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Copyright © 2014 by Ina Garten. Photographs © 2014 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Serves 8 to 10

This cake is gluten-free but no one will suspect because the cake and ganache are so rich and fudgy. Thomas Keller’s Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour is pure genius.

  • 1 pound plus 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate such as Lindt, broken into chunks
  • 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Coffee or vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Place the one pound of chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Off the heat, immediately stir in the butter, flour, sugar, coffee granules, and salt with a rubber spatula. Whisk in the egg yolks until smooth.
  4. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until they form soft peaks.
  5. Scrape the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and fold them in very carefully with a rubber spatula, just until combined. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 15 minutes exactly. (Be sure your oven temperature is accurate!)
  6. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven, leaving the door slightly ajar. Allow the cake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. The cake will sink in the middle. Carefully release the sides of the pan and slide the cake onto a flat serving plate or cake stand.
  7. Place the 3 ounces of chocolate and the heavy cream in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and heat just until the chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Add a drop of cream if the mixture is too thick to pour. Pour the chocolate onto the sunken part of the cake, leaving the edge unfrosted. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream.
    Note: You can certainly make this with1 tablespoon all-purpose flour instead of gluten-free flour.

Prepare the cake and allow it to sit at room temperature for up to 6 hours.

Barefoot Contessa