Monday, August 18, 2008

Waiter, There's a Spy in my Soup!

The National Archives made news last week when more than 750,000 pages of material from the formerly secret personnel files of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) were released. The documents, which are maintained at the archives building in College Park, MD, shed light on the lives of many who worked in the field of international espionage. The list included many notables, among them former CIA directors Allen Dulles and William Casey, famed chef Julia Child, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Arab/Israeli peace negotiator and civil rights advocate Ralph Bunche, and Hollywood actor Sterling Hayden.

Fellow blogger and neighbor first "broke" the story about Julia Child dealing with codes before souffles over on his blog after the news reports started.

To honor the achievements of Julia McWilliams, who met her husband Paul Child in the OSS, I offer up a random Julia Child recipe.

Le Gateau au Chocolat "Eminence Brune"
Adapted from "Julia Child's Kitchen," Alfred Knopf, 1975
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup extra fine sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 ounces soft unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • Filling and frosting (see recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch cake pans; place wax paper in bottom of each, and then butter and flour.
  2. Blend coffee and water in top of double boiler over simmering water. Remove from heat. Add chocolates; cover and set aside to melt.
  3. Beat yolks and gradually add 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until yolks are thick, pale yellow.
  4. Beat melted chocolate until smooth. Beat in butter, 2 tablespoons at a time; gradually beat chocolate and butter into yolk mixture.
  5. Beat whites until foamy; beat in cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating until whites form soft peaks; gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Sift on 1/4 of cornstarch and scoop on 1/4 of whites; stir with spatula. Scoop rest of whites on top; sift on 2 of remaining cornstarch and fold. Sift half of remaining cornstarch on top and fold in; sift on remaining cornstarch and fold to blend.
  6. Spoon batter into pans and smooth. Bang once on work surface to settle batter, then bake for 15 minutes. A cake tester inserted near the edges should come out clean. Cool pans on racks. Wrap and chill for an hour before unmolding.
Chocolate Filling and Glaze
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  1. Melt chocolates with coffee and water; beat in butter. If mixture is too liquid to spread, beat over cold water until lightly thickened.
  2. Unmold one layer of cake onto serving plate and spread top with 1/4 inch of icing. Unmold second layer on top of first and cover top and sides with remaining frosting. Serve, refrigerate or freeze. Return to room temperature before serving.
Yield: 8 servings.


ScottE. said...

This is just another great chapter in Julia's story. If you want a lovely little book to read, pick up MY LIFE IN FRANCE. When she describes her first meal in France, you almost feel you are there with her.

Brave Astronaut said...

I have to say I am a big fan of hers. My wife and I had a croquembouche wedding cake, based primarily on seeing her make one.