chocolate prune rum cake?

So as early 21st century lowbrow foodies, we came to love America's Test Kitchen and its quirky founder Chris Kimble with frequent viewings of both the ATK and Cooks Country cooking shows on PBS. Of course we love Bridget and Julia and Adam and Jack (we saw him in person in a Bryn Mawr bookstore cookbook signing before the demise of most chain bookstores almost everywhere!) and respect the work of ATK in fool proofing the best approaches to classic recipes and even purchased some of their magazines and cookbooks over the years. So we were saddened to hear of the departure of CK from the franchise in 2016, but although there seemed to be a few bumps in the road in his departure path (including a now ongoing lawsuit by ATK against CK), for us it wasn't a total tragedy that he decided to create a new venue Milk Street and turn the page. We got the first free issue of the associated magazine, but having entered the Cookbooks Anonymous program to reduce cookbook and food mag purchases to an absolute minimum, we passed reluctantly on the subscription. Nonetheless, we subscribed to his free email newsletter and a couple days before a rare Christmas season Sunday evening open house of some of our neighbors in our 8 unit townhome building, an email dessert recipe story arrived giving bob a reason to give it a try (since ms_ani is not a dessert person requiring a different target testing audience).

Chocolate prune rum cake? Sounds a bit seasonal, and maybe even a tad more healthy, prunes instead of fat, no? And bob is a chocoholic, with a penchant for incorporating hard liqueur in his desserts, and a residual dependency on prune yogurt from many summers in Italy where the product is universally accessible, so this combo punched all the right buttons in bob's food radar hardware. Not to mention that we had some St Lucian dark rum  in our alcohol stash from a Caribbean vacation last century, so maybe it was about time to use it in something, anything.

It's a springform pan cake, so our partiality towards cheesecakes was also in play here. This time we cut our parchment circle large so our gutter-rim pan could clamp down on it instead of fitting the circle into the inside of the bottom. There were some voices that counseled us against using a guest audience as guinea pigs for a never-before-tried recipe, but we are bold thinkers in the kitchen and never fear defeat. Which occasionally strikes, but is never fatal. Better to aim high and fall short than live life always cautiously, no?

This was a definite success story. Our first flourless cake within recent memory (not very meaningful statement at dr bob's age) and so easy! Of course easier if done with a cooking partner, which is how our team executed this recipe. The only machine requirements are the hand mixer for the egg yolk and sugar zabaione and the stand mixer for achieving stiff egg white peaks.


9 T salted butter (1T softened)
8 oz pitted prunes (about 1 1/2 c), finely chopped (do this first)
1/3 c dark rum
1 T molasses
6 large eggs, separated
1/3 c plus 1/4 c white sugar
1 t kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F, with a middle shelf readied for the cake.
  2. Cut a parchment circle to fit inside or overlap the gutter rim of a 9 inch springform pan, and butter the bottom and sides with softened butter, about 1 T, if it were actually measurable.
  3. Combine the prunes, rum and molasses in a 2 cup measuring cup and microwave 45-60 seconds until the rum bubbles, then rest for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally if you remember (we did not).
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 8 T (one stick) of butter, remove from the heat and immediately add the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks and 1/3 c sugar (we used electric beaters) until they are light yellow, 30 seconds? We call this zabaione, the starter for our favorite gelatos and tiramisu.
  6. Slowly add the melted chocolate, whisking until smooth, then stir in the prune mixture.
  7. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form, maybe one minute, maybe more like in our case.
  8. Whisk in 1/3 the egg whites gently, then fold in the remaining egg whites with a spatula until the mixture is marbled.
  9. Dump it into the buttered pan and settle it in level, then bake 35 to 40 minutes until the edges are firm and cracked? 35 inutes worked for us. The center should be set but soft to the touch.
  10. Cool at least one hour. The cake will settle and sink a bit in the middle as it cools.


  1. Christopher Kimball.
  2. America's Test Kitchen. Cook's Country.
  3. Milk Street.
  4. Gutter rim style spring form pan: Martha Stewart got it right.
  5. Illustrations available.
chocprunerumcake.htm: 19-dec-2016 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]