I am a terrible cook, I’ll admit it.

Or rather, I find cooking to be very boring. I know a lot of people who claim cooking “soothes their souls” and “relaxes” them. I find it to be very stressful and I always feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.

However, luckily for our family, my father LOVES to cook. Seriously, I think he missed his calling in life. He would have made an excellent restaurant chef. I know people always brag about their parents’ cooking. However, my father really does take it a step beyond the rest–everybody who has ever tasted his cooking has always been blown away at how good he is.

This year I decided to be “brave” and I asked my father for his gateau au chocolat (chocolate cake) recipe. Of course, to you Americans, they are brownies. However, this recipe was passed on to my father by my French grandmother, so maybe brownies aren’t as American as we thought? My father always gets frustrated by my mother when she insists on calling them brownies–quite the source of contention in their marriage. Since my father usually makes his chocolate cake/brownies in a round cake pan, he cuts them out in actual cake slices, not squares. Therefore in his eyes, it’s a cake.

I decided to share my father’s gateau au chocolat (for his sake I’m abstaining from calling them brownies) recipe here. I looked at other brownie recipes online and it seems they are all more  or less a variation of the same thing, just the measurements tend to vary. Also, please bear with me since my father sent me the recipe written in French and using grams instead of American measurements (I have no idea how to convert, sorry!).

Ingredients

  1. 1 dark chocolate bar (200 grams) or 2 chocolate bars (100 grams each)
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 200 grams of sugar
  4. 100 grams of flour + a pinch of salt
  5. 100 grams of butter

As you can see, this is a no frills recipe. No nuts or crazy concoctions.

Method

  1. First break up the chocolate bar into several pieces. Then place the butter and chocolate together and melt them (either using the microwave or my preferred method, using a pot over the stove on a low flame setting. I think the chocolate and butter melt better this way).
  2. Mix the chocolate and butter well together so that the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add 4 eggs to the chocolate and butter mixture and beat well (or “mix vigorously” as my father wrote).
  4. Add the flour and the salt to the mixture and beat well.
  5. (This is optional: add a spoonful of olive oil).
  6. Grease the pan/recipient you will pour the mixture into (I usually use olive oil).
  7. Pour the mixture into the pan.
  8. Put the pan in the oven for about 30-40 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius (about 375 degrees Fahrenheit).

And because I am such an idiot when it comes to cooking, my father added for my benefit: You’ll know it’s ready when you stick a knife in it and it comes out with no chocolate slivers on the blade.

This is what my attempts looked like when I was finished:

   

And when Nicole made some at the end of the year for the teachers at her school. They were a HUGE hit and prompted the predictable exclamations of “Que ricos estan!” from her Spanish coworkers.

I have to say the brand of chocolate you use DOES affect the cake’s/brownies’ taste. Here in Spain I like to use the Valor dark chocolate (not sure it is available in the States). My father exclusively uses this label, Nestle dessert dark chocolate which to my knowledge is not sold in the States. He stocks up in France whenever he gets the chance. I think this is the reason people fall in love with his chocolate cake/brownies and why no one can replicate them. It all comes down to the chocolate he uses.

I know I’m going to sound like a huge chocolate snob, but I’m not a fan of Hershey Chocolate. So if you know I’m coming over and you’re going to make brownies/chocolate cake, make sure to use a different label!

Oh and take a look at the dessert my father made this past Christmas–a buche de Noel aka Christmas yule log. He made it from scratch. Like I said, amazing cook!

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