Yossy Arefi’s Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake
Imagine a deliriously, deep, rich chocolate-y cake that’s like the love child of a brownie and a molten lava cake.
It’s the stuff of dreams, isn’t it?
It surely is my fantasy come true, especially with its scattering of plump fresh figs on top. So much so that I can’t stop myself from digging a fork into it again and again in utter bliss.
That’s what “Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake” will do to you.
This incredible — and incredibly easy — cake is from the new cookbook, “Sweeter Off The Vine” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.
It’s from the super talented Yossy Arefi, a Brooklyn-based food photographer, food stylist and baker, who created the charmingly named blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co., where she chronicles her baking endeavors.
This is one of those must-have cookbooks. And I don’t say that lightly, not when my shelves are already groaning under the strain of too many cookbooks. But if you’re like me and love to bake, you will find yourself bookmarking practically every page because these are down-home treats with a personality all their own that are in no way an ordeal to make.
Arefi’s recipes are helpfully arranged by the season: from spring’s “Strawberry and Campari Paletas” to summer’s “Apricot and Berry Galette with Saffron Sugar” to fall’s “Pear Pie with Creme Fraiche Caramel” to winter’s “Tangerine Cream Pie.”
Salivating yet? You will over this cake, which is at once gooey in the center, chewy in the interior, and crisp on the edges. Best yet, you can decide just how molten you want to enjoy it. If you want it more like a true lava cake, Arefi advises to eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven, spooning it into bowls. If you want it firmer, just let it cool before enjoying it.
I wanted something I could definitely eat with a fork, so I ended up baking my cake about 12 minutes longer than the recipe instructs. But then again, I also have a gas oven, which I find often takes longer to bake.
What I ended up with was darned perfect in my mind — a cake sturdy enough on the outside to pick up with your fingers, yet still soft, and a bit melty-runny in the very center — like chocolate chunks in a cookie just a minute out of the oven.
Just for fun, I used two types of fresh figs: the inky-purple Mission, and the more chartreuse-hued Calimyrna. You’ll need a total of 12 ounces of figs, which roughly amounts to seven or eight of them, depending upon their size.
The figs get jammy with their sticky, wine-like sweetness even more concentrated. They are a great match for the intense, earthy bittersweet chocolate in the cake. I can only imagine how mind-blowing a slice would be with a glass of port.
This is one magnificent chocolate cake. And I dare you to not succumb to its charms.
Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake
(Makes one 8-inch cake)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
12 ounces fresh figs, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, to serve
Unsweetened whipped cream to serve (optional)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan or cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that, too. Dust the pan and paper with flour.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium low, whisk the sugar into the butter, followed by the eggs and vanilla. Turn the mixer up to medium high and beat the mixture until it lightens in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Fold in the flour mixture, followed by the chopped chocolate.
Pour the batter into the pan, use an offset spatula to smooth the top, and arrange the sliced figs on top in a decorative pattern. Bake the cake until it is just set, but still wiggly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the cake and slice it into wedges, or spoon the still-warm cake out of the pan into bowls. The center will remain slightly soft when cooled. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream just before serving.
From “Sweeter Off the Vine” by Yossy Arefi
More Fig Recipes to Try: Chicken Fricasse with Figs and Port Sauce
And: Fig Cookies
And: Fig Compote