TWD: The Cake That Got Dorie Fired – Chocolate Armagnac Cake

by Holly on March 3, 2009


So, darling LyB at And Then I Do The Dishes chose the recipe that I have been probably most curious about in the entire book – Chocolate Armagnac Cake – which is an intense, fudgey, chocolate cake with liquor soaked prunes and ground nuts.  It is the recipe where Dorie tells the story of being fired from her first job as a pastry chef at a restaurant in NYC, for, as she calls it, “creative insubordination.” I for one am grateful that Dorie has so much creativite and fantastic ideas. All the Playing Around sections and information in BFMHTY are probably one of my very favorite things about the book.

As the story goes, there was a cake Dorie was bored with making, so one day she improvised and changed things up a bit. Even though customers loved the cake, her boss fired her. She considers the fact that she got to keep the recipe ample trade now. You can read a great interview from Dorie where she tells this story here too.


So, the cake that we were to make was a Chocolate Armagnac Cake. Since we don’t usually have any alcohol at our house and I’m not a drinker, I had no idea what Armagnac is. So, I looked it up out of curiosity and found this.  Either way, since I had recently purchased some dark rum to try to have on hand for baking I decided to stick fairly close to the recipe, but to trade out the Armagnac with Rum. I even had some of the those individually wrapped prunes on hand.   I followed the directions and added in the alcohol and then flambed.  So, I guess I only had a little bit of creativity here and I know Dorie wouldn’t ever look at it as insubordination on my part.


Yes, this week, TWDer’s around the world got fired for this cake as well. Ok, bad joke, but you know me and knew I had to go there! I really enjoyed this part of the process since I haven’t flambed before. It was awesome!

So, for me, making the cake was lots of fun.  Flambeing was fun.  My cake baked and set up quite nicely, but then I found out I was all out of chocolate – not a big shocker after the Daring Baker’s challenge for the Chocolate Valentino last month (which is, incidentally, where you will find the Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream recipe I used for the Caramel Crunch Bars last week).  I did have some milk chocolate left, but it didn’t substitute perfectly for me.  My frosting was never close to being a glaze like consistency and the frosting was way to thick to spread very much at all.  I basically spread a layer of frosting over the top of the cake, then I just melted some more milk chocolate and poured that over the whole cake.  I should have taken pictures before the untempered chocolate started to bloom, but I didn’t, so there you go.  

Overall, for me, this recipe was fun to make… but I didn’t like it at all.  The alcohol flavor, even after flambeing and baking, was still extremely pronounced for me so it was just way to boozy for me to like at all.  If you like desserts with those flavors, then I’m sure you would love this. The texture was lovely and I don’t think I would have minded the prunes themselves, but again, the overall flavor that was most powerful for me was the rum.  
Be sure to check out how all the others with Tuesdays with Dorie fared this week!  

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Marthe March 3, 2009 at 8:50 am

I liked this cake, although I actually forgot to add the icing… I didn’t notice a boozy flavour, but then again I only ate a tiny crumble the size of a fingernail….

chocolatechic March 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm


Amanda March 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

I wonder if it tasted boozey because of the type of alcohol you used? I didn’t really have that. At any rate, it looks beautiful!

LyB March 3, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Holly, your cake looks beautiful! I’m sorry you didn’t like it, though. Maybe the rum had too strong a taste? In any case, I’m glad you tried it. 🙂 Thanks for baking along with me this week!

Jennifer March 3, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Your cake looks awesome. Sorry you didn’t care for it!

LaDue & Crew March 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

It really looks delicious. Rum is a very strong choice, probably not the best for this particular cake.

Something I also do when a recipe calls for a certain libation, and I don’t want to buy the whole bottle (I’d have to be a bartender to use it all afterwords!) is to go to my favorite gourmet store and buy the airline size bottles they have at the end of the registers. It’s much cheaper than the full bottle (especially if I don’t like the recipe) and I don’t have alcohol wasting away in my pantry that will never be used.

Your recipes always look like they came out of a cake/ pastry store window- Fabulous!

doughmesstic March 3, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Looks great, Holly! I didn’t notice the flavor of any booze in mine, and I didn’t flambe it either because I didn’t have a full 1/4 cup. Oh well – chocolate is chocolate and I will eat it!!
Hope the fam is all feeling better now….

SiHaN March 3, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Pity you didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. Still, those were some great shots! and i’m glad you enjoyed the process, flambeing included!

kim March 3, 2009 at 7:17 pm

your cake looks so pretty! sorry you didn’t like the taste… i couldn’t really taste it in mine, maybe it was the rum? anyway, at least you had fun making it 🙂

pinkstripes March 3, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Your cake looks gorgeous. Too bad it wasn’t to your taste.

Madam Chow March 4, 2009 at 1:34 am

I loved this. My husband liked it. The booze flavor barely came through for us, and we are not drinkers, either. I didn’t frost the cake, but believe me, I didn’t miss that at all. Yours looks wonderful!

The Food Librarian March 4, 2009 at 2:35 am

Looking great! I used orange juice and it just tasted like a chocolate cake with walnuts! 😉

CB March 4, 2009 at 3:50 am

LOL @ we all got fired this week. Love it. But I am just corny like that. Day 3 girly. Keep it up!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

Matt's Kitchen March 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Perfection. You glazed that cake so evenly… I have got to learn how to do that!

Thank you again for your help on my fallen cake! TWD members are always so genuinely kind and supportive. You don’t always find that on the Internet!

Linda March 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Your cake looks fantastic!!! I’m sorry to hear that this wasn’t to your liking – i used cognac, and didn’t really taste it in the final cake.

Peggy March 4, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Oh I’m sorry you didn’t love this cake. I did. I used brandy, but I wish I had used Grand Marnier. I think the orange taste would have been great in it. I’m not big on liquor tasting things either, but I really did enjoy this one.

Carol Peterman March 4, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I used Armagnac and was surprised that I really couldn’t taste it at all. Nice job on a delicious looking cake despite having chocolate issues.

Amber Marie March 5, 2009 at 1:12 am

Your cake looks so pretty! 🙂

Teanna March 5, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Sorry you didn’t like it! Your frosting is SO gorgeous and luxe, though!

AmyRuth March 5, 2009 at 11:05 pm

So sorry the taste was not to your liking. The earlier suggestion to buy the itzy bitzy bottles are a great way to save. I had brandy on hand so that’s what I used and it wasn’t offensive at all. If you’re brave you could give it a try sometime. I’d give you some if I was there. darn! Well, it looks beautiful. So there.

TeaLady March 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Wonderful looking cake. Looks yummy!

Jules Someone March 8, 2009 at 3:56 am

I’m sorry you didn’t like it. It looks lovely!

Engineer Baker March 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Weird – I could barely taste the alcohol and prunes in this. But I guess if you don’t drink at all, you’re a bit more sensitized to it. Sorry it wasn’t your fave, because it looks absolutely fabulous!

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