Chocolate Cake from Gascony with Maydie
Here’s an adaptation of a chocolate cake recipe by French Chef Marie-Claude Garcia, in the village of Poudenas in Gascony, Southwest France. This cake resembles a big chocolate brownie, while the secret weapon here is the inclusion of Sea Salt*, which adds a whole new dimension. This cake also improves if left to mature over several days – if you can keep your hands off it.
Chocolate is always a difficult match for wine, and chocolate cake is no less challenging. Candidates need plenty of power, sweetness and body to match; the wine must be sweeter than the cake. Consequently, look for sweet wines made in hotter climates with super-ripe grapes. Additionally, the wine may be fortified with spirit for extra oomph.
As this chocolate cake recipe is from Gascony, it’s paired with a perennial favourite, the unusual and unique Maydie. This sweet red fortified wine is from Madiran, just an hour south of Poudenas.
Marie-Claude’s Chocolate Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 180° C
2. Melt 200g of 70% dark chocolate by chopping it up and placing it in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly
3. Separate the yolks and whites of five eggs
4. Cream 200g of unsalted butter with one cup of caster sugar until light, white, soft and creamy. Now stir in five egg yolks, one at a time
5. Add the melted chocolate and blend until the mixture is entirely smooth
6. Combine 60g flour with two tablespoons of Cocoa powder, one teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of Sea Salt.* Sieve this over the chocolate mixture, then fold it in
7. Beat five egg whites until glossy and stiff. Now stir one large spoonful into the chocolate mixture to soften it. Slowly add the remaining whites and fold in gently, lifting the heavy chocolate mixture from the bottom of the bowl. Mix thoroughly but try to retain as much air as possible – the longer you take, the lighter the cake will be
8. Scrape the mixture into a lined and greased ceramic dish and scatter two pinches of Sea Salt on top
9. Bake for 35 minutes. The cake should be set around the edge but still “jiggly” in the middle. Turn off the oven and leave the cake to cool with the oven door ajar
10. When cool, remove the cake from the baking dish and store it at room temperature. The cake can mature over several days, getting saltier, squidgier and more flavoursome
11. Serves eight. Optionally add raspberries and crème anglaise
*Sea Salt – use Fleur de Sel, Maldon or whatever else is available.
Château d’Aydie, Maydie, Tannat Vintage, Vin de Liqueur, 2017. 17%
The Madiran appellation for dry red wines is based on the local red grape variety, Tannat. As its name suggests, Tannat (which has also found a home in Uruguay) has abundant tannins. This used to mean that these needed many years of maturation to tame them or become blending partners (typically Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon). However, modern winery techniques like micro-oxygenation (Microx) have worked wonders. This technique trickles oxygen bubbles slowly through the wine in a tank or barrel during fermentation or maturation.
Indeed, the Laplace family at Chateau d’Aydie are recognised masters of the Tannat grape and make several versions. Furthermore, since 2018, they have been environmentally certified by HVE (High Environmental Value).
1985 was the first release of this sweet version of Tannat, called Maydie, though their experience with fortifying Tannat dates back to 1941. As far as I am aware, this is the only example of this style that is made, and it’s classed as a Vin de Liqueur.
100% Tannat grapes are de-stemmed and placed in a wooden tank, where they undergo cold maceration to extract aromas and colour. Alcoholic fermentation is only for 3-4 days, stopped early by fortification with wine-derived spirit alcohol. Hence this is a wine made using the Port method. The wine then matures in a 6,000-litre oak tun for 24 months before bottling and release.
Best chilled slightly before serving. Here’s my tasting note that was written back in 2005 about the 2002 vintage, which needs no updating:
A unique Port-style sweet Tannat in a squat bottle. It’s a deep blue-black colour – do you drink it or write with it? Nose and palate both offer up blackberries, plums and prunes. Viscous texture, creamy, immensely sweet but leavened by acidity and tannins, not at all cloying. It has a length measured in minutes, features toasted almonds, and finishes clean. Hedonistic, chocolate heaven that will also go with Roquefort cheese.”
A 50 cl bottle is £17.00 at the Wine Society.
N°696, Chemin 317