Le gateau au chocolat de Nancy with blackberry-cassis sauce

Le gateau au chocolat Nancy

We went blackberry picking yesterday. We get a boxed share of vegetables from our CSA, but part of the deal is that we can go to the farm and pick certain crops. This week it’s blackberries. Of course I got lost on the way there, following a detour it turned out I didn’t need to make. Picture me, if you will, driving in circles on beautiful but bewildering country roads, with two little boys in the back seat, and me up front, cursing my head off. The boys meekly suggested that we just go home, and I yelled, “we’ve been driving for hours so we could get one **$*#$ pint of blackberries, we are not going home without our pint of *$#*&$** blackberries!” Yeah, they’ll have glowing memories of lazy summer days with mom. So, almost by accident, we found the farm. We walked across dry and blistering fields to the long rows of blackberry bushes. And then it was really nice. The bushes made a bit of shade, there was a warm, blackberry-smelling wind blowing all along the hedges. The boys ate berries right from the vine, the bees and butterflies danced dizzily all around us, but weren’t interested in us at all. The thing about picking blackberries on a farm is that many many people have picked before you, so it can be hard to find the ripe fruit. You could, in theory, find yourself having a cross and panicky moment in which you think about how long it took you to get there, and how you’ll go home with a pint of sour red berries, which you tugged, unripe from the bush in grudging anger. And then bright little Isaac said, “Mom, look down here! There are millions.” And truly, when I crouched down and looked up at the world from Isaac’s point of view, the bushes were teeming with ripe fruit. I reached my hand into the fragrant green spaces the leaves made, and the berries literally fell, with gentle little thuds, to the ground. We had our pint in no time, but we kept walking to the end of the row, where it was lovely and shady by the wooded edge of the farm, and we stopped to rest there a moment before the hot march back. And I thought about how everything in life is probably better if you look at it from Isaac’s point of view.

Blackberry picking

For some reason I felt determined to bake yesterday, and I felt determined to bake with chocolate. I’d been reading my French cookbook from the 60s. I don’t really like to follow recipes, but this cookbook is different, because I don’t really speak French, and because it doesn’t really spell out how to make the recipe in a step by step way. So it’s like solving a puzzle. I’m not sure I made this cake correctly, but it turned out delicious! It has lots of butter, chocolate and eggs, and 1 tablespoon of flour and a smicker of ground almonds. It’s dense, but light, soft, flavorful. We ate half the blackberries fresh, and we turned the rest into a sauce with cassis and sugar. The blackberries and the sauce were quite tart, but I thought they went well with the sweet chocolatey cake.

Blackberry sauce

Here’s Jeanne Moreau singing Le Tourbillon, which always sounds like summer passing too fast, to me.

1 stick cold butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 heaping teaspoon flour
1/2 cup almonds, roughly ground
1 t vanille
4 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan. (I always fold a square of tin foil – about 6 inches across – to fit in the center, and butter and flour that in, too.)

Beat the eggwhites till stiff. Whisk the egg yolks till combined.

In a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, warm the chocolate chips till just melted. Beat the butter with a wooden spoon till soft, and then stir it into the chocolate till everything is just melted. Take the pot off th heat, and, whisking the whole time, add the egg yolks. Keep whisking, and add the sugar, vanilla, flour, salt, and almonds. (You might need to change to a spoon, but don’t stop stirring!) Let it cool slightly, and then pour it into the bowl with the egg whites, keeping it to one side. Fold everything together carefully, and then pour it into your prepared pan. Bake for about 1/2 hour, till a knife stuck in the center comes out clean. Let cool.


1 cup blackberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cassis
2 T water
pinch salt

Combine everything in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer till it’s a bit thickened – ten or fifteen minutes. Taste for sweetness.


4 thoughts on “Le gateau au chocolat de Nancy with blackberry-cassis sauce

  1. Hooray for Isaac!

    I just *must* share this snippet (from my son Matt) with someone (Jimmy is 18 months old):

    Jimmy comes in the living room and sees empty wine glass on floor
    His comment:
    “daddy water done”

    • That’s adorable! I’ve been trying to respond but I can never load the comments on this computer, lately! One of Malcolm’s first gestures was to clink his juicy cup against our water glass and say CHEERS!

  2. Pingback: French cake a week – Gateau Suisse | Out of the Ordinary

  3. Pingback: French cake a week # 2- Gateau Suisse | Out of the Ordinary

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