This cake is so scandalous I can’t even write a headline about it that doesn’t seem obscene. “Preparing Rigo Jancsi”? Not much better. Guess I just have to accept the snickers from the back of the bus and move on.
A good piece of Rigó Jancsi — there I did it again — is essentially a cube, about two inches on a side. It’s all you need since this really is decadent stuff. It’s chocolate mousse, essentially, between two layers of intensely chocolate-y (to the point of being almost coffee-like) spongecake, topped by a layer of chocolate, almost like a softened bittersweet bar.
What’s unusual about this cake is that even though the chocolate is delivered in three different guises, the impression you get is of bare naked cacao. That’s partly a factor of its relatively low sugar content. The rest I’ll credit to gypsy magic. Start your cake by preheating your oven to 350. Next, apply butter or cooking spray to a half sheet pan that’s covered with a sheet of parchment paper.
Now begin the spongecake. Melt the butter in a microwave and add the chocolate.
Stir until it’s melted, zapping it for 5-10 seconds as necessary, then set it aside to cool. You want a pudding-like consistency in the end, something like this:
Combine the flour and cocoa in a small bowl and set it aside while you turn your attention to the eggs.
Pour the room-temperature yolks into in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip.
Whip them for about three minutes until they’re pale, and with the machine running, add half the sugar in a steady stream.
Whip 2-3 more minutes until the mixture is good and thick. Scrape it into a medium bowl.
Add the chocolate (zap it for a couple of seconds first it’s too firm)…
…and fold the two together. Leave some streaks, you don’t want to overdo it.
Now all you need is your egg white foam. Rise the mixer bowl and whip (without getting too uptight about it) and pour in the room-temperature whites. Add the salt.
Whip to soft peaks, then add the rest of the sugar in a steady stream.
Continue and whip to stiff peaks. You want them nice and glossy.
Now to bring everything together. Plop a third of the whites on top of the yolk/chocolate mixture…
…and simply stir it in.
Now fold in the next third.
The final third you won’t fold in all the way, because you’re going to sprinkle on your cocoa and flour mixture for the last few strokes.
There, all done. Leave some streaks, remember.
Now scrape the batter into the pan you prepared at the beginning. Get fussy with this step, since you want the batter as even as you can reasonably get it.
Bake the batter for 12-15 minutes, until the cake starts to pull away from the sides.
Help the rest of the cake release by applying a knife or spatula to the edges.
Gently run an icing spatula under the layer to make sure it will release when you turn the pan over.
Apply sheet of parchment and a rack to the top of the layer…
…then flip the whole works over. Remove the pan.
And the parchment. Yes, you’ll lose a film of cake.
Apply a different sheet of greased parchment plus another rack.
Flip everything over again and remove the first rack and parchment sheet. Yes, you’ll lose some of the top crust in the process. Allow the layer to cool. (Don’t let chocolate-crazed squirrels get it, as they almost did this one). Once the layer is room-temperature, cut the cake sheet in half with a serrated knife. Once the cake is cut, use scissors to cut the underlying parchment paper sheet. Having each half on paper makes them a lot easier to work with.
Now prepare the glaze. Combine the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and zap on high in ten-second bursts until the chocolate it almost melted, then simply stir, letting the residual heat finish the job.
Stir in the vanilla…
…and while it’s still liquid and spreadable, apply the glaze to whichever layer you’ve selected as the top half of your cake. It need not be perfectly smooth. Get the sides if you like.
Allow the top to set for about an hour or refrigerate it for ten to fifteen minutes. Then using a long chef’s knife that you’ve heated under hot tap water and dried, score the top into twenty 2″ squares. Wipe the knife, re-warm it and dry it, then cut clean through the layer, separating the pieces. (You’ll need to wipe, warm and dry after each cut to keep the edges clean). Store those in the fridge until needed. There’ll probably be some excess when you’re done. Hide that away for a later coffee break.
Last is the filling. Combine the powdered sugar and cocoa in a small bowl…
…and whisk them together. Oops, spilled some.
Melt your chocolate using the microwave method and allow it to cool to the same pudding-like consistency as before.
When the chocolate is only barely warm, whip the cream.
Whip it to just shy of soft peaks, and with the machine running, sprinkle in the cocoa/sugar mixture.
Whip for about fifteen seconds, then add the vanilla and rum.
Lastly, add the chocolate all at once and whisk it in by hand. This will give you more control and help keep you from over-whipping the cream.
The result will be a thick mousse-like filling. Were I to do this again, I think I would have allowed the cream to sit for five minutes to warm a tad, then dumped it onto the chocolate. That might have helped the chocolate to incorporate a bit better. As it was, I got lots of little flecks of chocolate in the filling. This is entirely normal with this sort of quickie chocolate mousse, however I think the flecks can be minimized.
But no matter, I think the little bitty chocolate shavings actually made the texture more interesting. They’re there and then a moment later they’re not, since they melt so fast in your mouth. Anyway, apply a sheen of apricot glaze to the bottom layer, then heap on the filling.
Get fussy with this step too. Being so thick the filling will sculpt well. Make sure it’s even. Square the edges…
…and don’t forget those corners. Take as much time as you need to get it perfectly even.
Then put the top pieces back on and refrigerate the whole thing for at least an hour.
To serve, simply use a sharp knife to cut through the filling and bottom layer. Plate the individual pieces as you like. Edible flowers are nice. This one isn’t I don’t think. You get the idea. I think this cake is best when the pieces have been allowed to sit at room temperature for half an hour or so.
Excuse me now, won’t you? I prefer to eat this cake behind closed doors.