When we made the French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, we only made half a batch, which left us with four egg whites to use. With a full batch of ice cream, we have eight egg whites left over, which is perfect for making White Cake, complete with frosting. But, what do we do with half that amount? Never fear, here at Scratchin’ Central, we’ll figure out something for those egg whites.
We liked the idea of a cake to go with our ice cream (who doesn’t?), but we didn’t want just a vanilla-flavored white cake. We wanted chocolate. Checking through our library, we didn’t see a chocolate cake that used only egg whites; most called for both yolks and whites. Hmm, a quandary. We ended up modifying the White Cake recipe, scaling it down a bit and adding chocolate — well, more accurately, cocoa — resulting in a single-layer chocolate cake, but no frosting. You can either eat it plain, dust it with powdered sugar, or make up some frosting. We’d frozen a bit of leftover frosting from our last cake, so we were set.
Makes one 8-inch cake.
Since you probably made ice cream right before this (what, you didn’t?), your eggs will be from happy hens. For the cocoa, use a high quality Dutch-processed cocoa; the processing removes the bitterness, and this cake doesn’t have enough sugar to counteract bitter cocoa. We use Valrhona cocoa, as it’s dark and rich. Butter, unsalted of course, because no one likes salty cake. Pretzels, yes, cake, no. If you don’t have buttermilk, use milk. The cake won’t be as tender, but it’ll still be good.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat over to 375°F. Move a rack to the center of the oven. Butter the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with a piece of waxed paper or baking parchment, and butter the paper.
Sift. It always seems as if cocoa has lumps, and the best way to break up those lumps is to sift. So, break out your sifter from way back in the cupboard, and sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. We find the easiest method is to place the sifter into a bowl, measure all the ingredients into the sifter, then start sifting. Once you’ve sifted, sift again. We use a spoon to scoop up flour mixture and place it into the sifter held above the bowl.
Whip egg whites. The original recipe had the whipping of the egg whites after making the batter, which means you have to wash the mixer bowl in between. We whip the egg whites first; that way, we can cream the butter right afterwards, without having to wash the bowl. So, place the egg whites in the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, along with a pinch of cream of tartar, and start whipping. As the whites get frothy and start to whip, increase the speed of the mixer. When they hold stiff but shiny peaks, transfer to a bowl with a rubber spatula and set aside.
Cream butter. Attach the paddle to the mixer and place the butter in the bowl — no need to clean the bowl — and turn the mixer to medium-low speed. Beat the butter until it’s smooth and shiny, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add sugar. With the mixer still running, slowly pour the sugar into the butter and continue beating until the butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy. This can take anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the temperature of the butter.
Add flour and buttermilk. We need to do this in three additions. Stop the mixer and add about 1/3 of the flour mixture. Turn the mixer on low and mix until just incorporated, about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and add 1/3 of the buttermilk. Turn the mixer to low and mix until the buttermilk is just incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat these steps two more times, then add the vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix until everything is incorporated.
Fold in egg whites. This is also one of those things you should do in thirds. Add about 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter, and fold it in until no white streaks remain. Repeat the folding in of the egg whites in two more additions.
Fill pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth out the top.
Bake. Slide the cake into the center of the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool. Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan. To remove the cake, run a knife around the edge of the pan, then invert and the cake should drop right out. Remove the paper and turn right-side up.
Just like the White Cake recipe from which this one is derived, this makes a nice light cake, with the added advantage of being easy to make and easy to scale up or down to fit the number of egg whites that you have on hand. We probably wouldn’t make a smaller amount than this, but that’s mainly because we’d just make pasta dough with three or fewer egg whites. The taste, while not super-chocolatey, is good, and the keeping ability of cakes made from this recipe is excellent, especially if they’re frosted on all sides. Overall, we’d say the chocolate version gets four stars.