Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Armagnac Cake

March 3, 2009

This week, we’re making the cake that got Dorie Greenspan fired for “creative insubordination”…fired from her first job as a pastry chef! Thankfully, Dorie encourages creativity and she provides a few alternatives to flex the recipe as desired. Who knows, maybe if that job had gone better, we wouldn’t have her cookbook today – quel horreur! The recipe for this Chocolate Armagnac Cake appears on page 279 of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Thank you to LyB of And Then I Do The Dishes for selecting this week’s recipe. Check her blog for the recipe and be sure to take a look at the TWD blogroll to see how the other bakers fared with this cake.


What I did: I cut the recipe in half and baked it in a 6″ pan. I also went with the “playing around” version and used raisins instead of prunes and brandy instead of Armagnac. The alternatives worked out great, because I had everything I needed to make this cake. Plus I like raisins and brandy, which is probably why I had them on hand. Funny how logic works sometimes. 

How it went:  To make this cake I whisked together egg yolk and sugar. Into that went a melted mixture of chocolate (I used semi-sweet), butter, and water. Next, a mixture of ground nuts (I used walnuts), flour, and salt is added and then brandy-soaked raisins. Finally, I folded in whipped egg whites, which I used a hand mixer to whip because I didn’t think it would work well to whip such a small amount in the stand mixer.

I ran into a few bumps. Most of the amounts were easy to cut in half, but there was the matter of three eggs. I decided to use one yolk and two whites, since the whites are whipped and folded in and I wanted to make sure the cake had enough lift. But then I whisked the one yolk with the sugar and it looked like yellow crumbles instead of thick and smooth. I spooned in a little bit of egg white for more moisture and then I was in business. I was also a bit confused by the instructions because the prune/Armagnac version says to set the Armagnac on fire, but it doesn’t say that for the raisins, so I skipped the flames and threw in the raisins, brandy, and extra water.

Coming out of the oven, it looked a little…saggy? lumpy? It crumbled a bit around the edges when I put it on a plate and when I was glazing it and I was concerned that I had overbaked it.


How it tasted: I was worried that I hadn’t done a great job of making this cake, but then I tasted it and it was so good! The alcohol flavor is there, but not in your face. I love raisins on their own and super-love them with chocolate. And then all of this goodness is enrobed in a chocolate glaze. I can’t get over the texture: soft, smooth, melt in your mouth like a chocolate cloud.  It’s so chocolaty and so moist, but not that stick-to-your teeth kind of moist cake. It really didn’t seem over-baked. Maybe it’s just so delicate tender that it needs some TLC when handling it.

Would I make this again?: Yes. My husband and I both liked it a lot. When I was looking at the recipe I thought “yay, raisins!” and my husband said something like “why would you ruin a perfectly good cake with raisins?” It worked out in the end because he liked it a lot. Honestly, I was hoping he’d pick out the raisins and give them to me, but that didn’t happen. Maybe next time.


  1. Ciao ! I loved it very much as well !!

  2. Wow! looks great!!! Nice job!

  3. Nice job!!!

  4. So glad you liked it! I really enjoyed this recipe, but too many dishes LOL

  5. I’m glad your fear turned out as tasty as you write!

    Pretty darn nice, huh? LOL LOL LOL

    Very well done, Jill!

  6. Glad you liked it so much! I may try raisins next time too. Yum!

  7. So glad that you liked it and that your substitutions worked.

  8. I had to laugh at your husbands comment – because my husband wouldn’t touch raisins with a 10 foot pole. Wait, make that a 20′ pole.

    But honestly, I agree – this cake was great! And definitely worth making again.

  9. Yay! I’m glad it worked out for you. I debated about doing the original vs. Dorie’s version.

  10. HAHAH your husband and my boyfriend need to be friends! That’s hysterical! Love that you guys liked it in the end!!!!

  11. wow, i’m starting to think that all husbands think alike. Mine said something similar, but this was after I fed him a slice without letting him know about the secret ingredient. nice job on your cake!

  12. I’m glad you liked it. #1 Son was going to try the raisin variation, but he didn’t want to give up the joy of setting the prunes on fire!

  13. Hi Jill! Thanks for stopping by my blog! XOXO

    Your cake looks AWESOME. I am liking the raisins idea, too. Nothing wrong with Brandy either! 🙂

    Next time, please share a slice. 😉

    FAB JOB!!!!!

  14. Sounds like you both enjoyed it and that’s definitely a good thing! It looks wonderful.

  15. don’t you love it when you play with a recipe and it *works*?! good for you on the smaller cake. it looks fantastic, and from what it sounds like, tasted yummy too!

    did you change your blog layout? i likey! what is the header picture? totally looks like a place i’d want to visit 🙂

  16. Great job! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I used raisins too but I wasn’t a huge fan of this recipe.

  17. I think you made the right call to not flambé the raisins. I did light my Armagnac and think that might be why I couldn’t taste it. It is a delicate and delicious cake! Nice job.

  18. Hi Jill! thanks for stopping by my blog this morning! Always nice to hear from you! I was looking thru your TWD posts…omigosh I felt like I was putting on weight just LOOKING at the lovely things you make!!!! Have a great weekend! PS Saw your sweet dog who looks like my Toby! What a cutie!

  19. Your sliced cake looke very good!

  20. I’m so glad you liked the cake! It looks great and your substitutions sound delicious, I’ll have to try it that way next time. 🙂 Thanks for baking along with me!

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