I love baking for other people. There’s just so much satisfaction in giving someone one of your favorite treats, like chocolate glazed gingerbread cakes, chocolate raspberry cake, apple cider cake, or a cranberry upside-down cake (can you tell I like cake?). But what about when that person is on a diet? You’d hardly be a good friend if you showed up with these sinfully delicious, rich, gooey, brownies.
This chocolate angel food cake has become my answer to that. It’s light and and airy and chocolatey and oh so very good, and the best part? There’s no butter, no egg yolks, no oil, and hey, it’s half air! How bad can it possibly be? It’s a much healthier alternative but it’s still so good, especially served with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream.
So when I said I’d bring dessert to a dinner party to celebrate the birthday of a friend that has lost over 30 pounds through several months of hard work and dedication, this is the dessert I immediately thought of. But I was still pretty wobbly after knee surgery and was a little nervous to committing to that much time standing in the kitchen. What if I got halfway through and just couldn’t stand long enough to finish it?
I finally decided that postsurgery was a time when it was acceptable to bring a store-bought dessert if necessary (nothing against those of you who buy your desserts – this is my own baggage) so I headed into the kitchen with my back-up plan alleviating my fears. Luckily the only hard part in making an angel food cake is cracking all the eggs and watching the mixer do all the hard work.
When I was growing up, my mom always made angel food cake for my grandmother’s birthday because it was her favorite cake. I never really understood it. I mean, whipped cream is good and all, but why would you ever want a cake with no frosting? I was dumbfounded. The part I enjoyed was squishing it up into little balls, literally deflating all the cake’s dreams of being light and airy. Now I totally get it. I love angel food cake, especially chocolate angel food cake. Next up? Lemon angel food cake.
What’s your favorite go-to healthy(ish) dessert?
Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Adapted from Gourmet
You will need a 10- by 4-inch tube pan with removable bottom. Ideally angel food cake pans should be uncoated – the slippery nonstick coating can cause your whipped egg batter to fall. I love my pan that I bought at Williams Sonoma.
What are you going to do with all those egg yolks? Well, you could make any kind of custard based dessert (ice cream, crème brûlée, or pots de crème), lemon curd (or any other fruit curd), mayonnaise, or Gourmet has a solution that uses all 12 of your egg yolks.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
12 large egg whites (1 1/2 cups), at room temperature 30 minutes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice, vanilla, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt using an electric mixer on medium-high speed until they just hold soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a slow stream and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Sift the flour mixture over the whipped whites and beat on low speed until just blended (folding in any unblended flour mixture by hand if necessary).
Spoon the batter into ungreased tube pan and smooth top. Run a rubber spatula or long knife through the batter to get rid of any large air bubbles.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted into middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and immediately invert the pan. If your pan has “legs,” stand it on those and if not, place the pan over the neck of a wine bottle. Cool the cake completely, upside down, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn the pan right side up and run a knife around the edges (including the center tube of pan). Lift the cake, still on the removable bottom of the pan, and then run a knife under the bottom of the cake to loosen it. Invert the cake to release it from tube, then reinvert it onto a plate. Serve with freshly whipped cream and berries.