How could anyone ever fire Dorie Greenspan? But thank goodness they did because otherwise who knows whether or not we’d have all of her wonderful creations, like this Chocolate Armagnac Cake for example. In the words of Dorie herself, this is the cake that got her fired. She was working in her first professional restaurant and became bored of making the same chocolate cake with raisins soaked in whiskey. One day she switched the raisins and whiskey for prunes and armagnac. Her boss wasn’t happy with the change and fired her. On the upside, she got to keep the cake recipe and I for one, couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, I underbaked the cake. It was still really tasty, it just didn’t quite have the texture I thought it should have. This easily could have been avoided if I had of stuck a toothpick in the cake to check its doneness. Instead I just yanked it out of the oven and prematurely tried to unmold it. I very quickly discovered that the interior of the cake was still quite wet. Dorie’s instructions are clear that the cake should not still be wet in the middle when you remove it from the oven. I read that key bit of information after the fact. I really have to learn to read recipes better.
At first I was surprised to see that there were prunes in this cake. For one reason or another, prunes generally seem old fashioned, almost geriatric. They’ve got none of the flash of dried cherries or the pizzazz of crystallized ginger. You might think that there’s no place for prunes in a chocolate cake. But they’re chopped into bits and then flamed in armagnac so don’t even try to tell me you wouldn’t like it. I’d be willing to bet that if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know there were prunes in the cake. You would taste chocolate and armagnac and something else, something a little chewy with excellent texture. But what could it be? Certainly not prunes! But if you thought that, you’d be wrong, because it is indeed prunes and they’re perfect. I also really liked the glaze on this cake. It’s nothing flashy but it has a nice shine and drizzles like it means business. I did absolutely nothing to change Dorie’s cake, so if you’re wondering where the recipe is, the answer would be “on page 279 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.”
If you’re into that whole Valentine’s Day thing, I suppose this would be a cake worthy of the occasion. It’s got everything you need- chocolate and booze. Personally, I think it’s better not to taint this cake by associating it with Valentine’s day, but the choice is ultimately yours. But I guess if you did make the cake and then things didn’t go as well as you planned with your date, then you’d have this wonderful cake all to yourself. That’s reason enough to hope that your date’s a dud. So go ahead and let your friend set you up with “the perfect guy” that nobody else wants, just make sure you’ve got your Chocolate Armagnac cake made ahead of time for when you get home early.