We might be moving again.
If it seems like we just finished a big move, that’s because we did. We’re just getting settled in our new rental house — a house we like a lot.
And yes, I’ve mentioned before that moving is just about my least favorite thing ever. So I’m more than a little unnerved by the prospect of doing it all over again so soon.
But this time we’re thinking about buying a house and, if all goes according to plan, it could be our last move for quite a while. So there’s that.
The house we’re considering has a lot going for it: a great neighborhood; a fireplace; a big, beautiful yard; space for Paul to have a home office. One thing it does not have, however, is room to spare in the kitchen.
The kitchen is mostly along one wall at the back of the house, like half of a galley kitchen.
I still can’t quite fathom how to cram all of my dishes, appliances, and pantry items into the handful of small cabinets in this long, narrow, space. I close my eyes and envision the blender stashed on a living room bookshelf and canned goods lining bedroom walls.
I’ve cooked in small kitchens before, though, so I know it can be done. One of my first apartments had a kitchen smaller than many people’s bedroom closets. I had to keep most of my dishes on a shelf in the living room. The lesser-used stuff I packed into dresser drawers.
But I cooked and baked all kinds of foods in that small space. I stuffed squash blossoms and grape leaves, canned tomatoes and made jam with my giant canning pot, churned just-squeezed grapefruit juice into sorbet and rolled sheet after sheet of fresh pasta.
One thing I learned about cooking in a small space is that single-use gadgets are rarely worth the space needed to store them.
To that end, I’ve never owned a cherry pitter.
I’ve saved a tiny bit of drawer space, sure, but I’ve also rarely cooked with cherries because pitting them with a knife is kind of a pain.
Then I read that cherries could be pitted with a pastry tip. I tried it and, what do you know, it worked! It worked well.
Pitting cherries is still a messy proposition (you might even consider doing it outside), but it’s so, so much easier than it was before.
So when I recently lucked into a good deal on cherries I immediately hoarded about four pounds worth.
I ate them out of hand. I chopped them and stirred them into the baby’s morning yogurt. I pitted them and froze them for later. I baked an almond-scented cherry buckle. I toyed with the idea of ice cream.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about chocolate.
I love chocolate, but I’ve never been a big fan of chocolate cake. Maybe it’s just not chocolatey enough. I don’t know.
This cake is a favorite, however. The top is almost crisp while the inside is dense and fudgy. In fact, it’s almost more like a brownie than a cake.
A small wedge paired with a quick cherry compote and a dollop of whipped cream makes a decadent, dinner party-worthy dessert that can be easily made in advance.
The cake recipe calls for a springform pan (though I suspect it would work in a standard, parchment-lined pan too) but otherwise uses no special equipment. Even those of you with the tiniest of kitchens should be able to pull it off with ease.
Cake and compote adapted from recipes by Loretta Keller (as printed in the New York Times) and David Lebovitz, respectively.
David suggests adding a splash of kirsch and some dried, sour cherries to the compote. I didn't have either on hand but I can imagine both would be great additions.
Any extra compote will keep for a few days in the refrigerator or, much longer, frozen. Try spooning it over ice cream or stirring it into Greek yogurt. I suspect the cake would freeze well too, though I haven't tried it. Let me know if you do.
- 8 1/2 ounces (two sticks plus one tablespoon) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 70%)
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- Heavy whipping cream, for serving
- 2 pounds fresh cherries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- a few drops of pure almond extract
Position a rack in the top third of the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees.Butter a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
Melt together 8 1/2 ounces of butter and the chocolate, using a double boiler or microwave oven. (If using a microwave, do this in short bursts, being careful not to scorch the chocolate.) Stir to combine.
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the egg yolks and the sugar, then stir in flour. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and salt and whip until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the cake is set and the sides are just beginning to pull away from the pan. Place the pan on a rack to cool for one hour, then wrap with foil and refrigerate for at least two hours. Remove the pan from the refrigerator about two hours before serving to bring the cake to room temperature.
Serve with cherry compote and freshly whipped cream.
Pit the cherries and combine with the sugar in a large, nonreactive saucepan.
Cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cherries are completely cooked through. Remove from heat, stir in the almond extract and allow the compote to cool a bit before serving.