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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Flourless Chocolate Cake | Practical Magic

Flourless Chocolate Cake | Practical Magic
Flourless Chocolate Cake | Practical Magic
Welcome to the first edition of the (Vampires, Witches, and Zombies - oh my!) Book and a Movie Challenge of 2017!  Last year, I joined my friend Kimberly of Coffee and Casseroles in her monthly pursuit of exploring vampires through books and film, this year she's expanded to add witches and zombies to the mix, with posts being every other month. We're kicking off a new year with the book Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, and its movie adaption.

The book - Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (1995):

While I've owned the movie for years, I didn't actually realize that it was an adaption of a book until I listened to Carrie and Diana's Practical Magic Fiction Kitchen Podcast last year! I added it to my ever-growing tbr list, and was happy to find out that it was on the book and a movie club roster for this year.

I was surprised to find out that the movie really only covers about a third of the book, and it's pulled from bits and pieces throughout. When Sally and Gillian are young, they go to live with their aunts after their parents die. Like the aunts, and the other Owens women going back over 200 years, the girls are looked at as outsiders...witchy outsiders (and how fitting that they live in Massachusetts).
Practical Magic book and movie
But while kids and adults alike are horrible to them by day, Sally and Gillian watch the women come to the aunts for advice and spells once dusk falls. Sally, the older is steady, the anchor, while Gillian is wild and flighty. Magic is a part of their being and their family heritage, and something that follows them around, whether they wish it to or not.

Gillian runs away to get married as a teenager, while Sally stays home with the aunts. She eventually finds love and has two daughters, only to lost her beloved Michael in an accident that she knew was imminent. She sinks into a severe depression for a year, with only the aunts to raise this next generation of Owens girls during that time. With telephone coaxing from Gillian, she eventually snaps out of it and decides to leave the town that she grew up in.

She takes her daughters and starts fresh, raising them in a "normal" environment. All is going well until one day, years later, Gillian shows up at her door with the dead body of her boyfriend in the car. Sally reluctantly lets Gillian stay and helps her bury the body in the yard. This is the end to any sense of normalcy that Sally had created.

Okay, there is soooo much more to the story, and all three generations of Owens women that are currently living. The aunts don't play as bit a role in the book as they do in the movie, and they are written as much older and reclusive than they are in the film, but they do make an important and welcome appearance in the conclusion of the book.

The air is as dense as chocolate cake, the good kind, made without flour.

Flourless Chocolate Cake | Practical Magic

The movie - Practical Magic (1998):

Every once in a while, I feel the urge to rewatch the movie. I created these Midnight Margaritas (with a side of remembrance) a few years ago as part of recipes inspired by Practical Magic with the Food 'n Flix club.

The movie is pulled from the book, but we're given much youngers aunts, and the story unfolds over a much shorter period of time. Sally's girls are young throughout the film, and Sally never moves away. The body is buried in the aunts yard, and I think there's a lot more obvious magic (maybe because it was packed into such a shorter time frame).

The movie doesn't take us as far into the lives of Gillian or Kylie and Antonia (Sally's daughters) as the book does, so we miss a lot of their depth. But hey, there's a lot more obvious and fun magical things to make up for it.

Here's an instance where I love both the book and the movie—and that's a rare thing for me.

In this house we have chocolate cake for breakfast...

The Flourless Chocolate Cake: 

Food plays a pretty big part in both the book and the movie...but especially the book. I like that the movie focused more on herbs and plants and creating spells, and kind of missed that when I sat down to read it. But something that was mentioned in both was chocolate cake.

In the movie, they ate chocolate cake for breakfast in the aunts' house. In the book, chocolate cake...the dense, flourless variety...was used to describe how thick the air was around Gillian when the aunts stepped back into her life after so many years. Somehow, I just couldn't resist making a chocolate cake to represent both versions of this story.
Flourless Chocolate Cake | Practical Magic

The challenge:

I'm so glad that Kimberly chose this Practical Magic combo to kick off a new year of the (Vampires, Witches, and Zombies - oh my!) Book and a Movie Challenge over at Coffee and Casseroles. I hope you'll drop by to read her thoughts and check out her Blood on the Moon Salad this month, as well.

In April, we'll be discussing an Anne Rice combination - The Vampire Lestat (book) and Queen of the Damned (movie). If you'd like to read, watch, and discuss with us, just post your thoughts and a recipe inspired by it, if you wish, on Sunday, April 30!

yield: serves 8-12print recipe
Flourless Chocolate Cake | Practical Magic

Flourless Chocolate Cake

prep time: 10 MINScook time: 20 MINStotal time: 30 mins
Dense, rich, decadent and extremely simple to make, this flourless chocolate cake will be magic at any dessert (or breakfast) table.


  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use Dutch process for a richer cake)
  • powdered sugar, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8" or 9" round springform pan, then line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium-large microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft, 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  3. Whisk in the sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, and then the cocoa powder, until no dry spots remain. Pour and scrape into the prepared pan.
  5. Slide into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes (checking at 20 if using a 9" pan), until the top has formed a thin crust; it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.
  6. Remove it from the oven, and allow to cook in the pan for 5 minutes before releasing the springform edges. When ready, slide the cake onto a serving plate; the edges may crumble a bit, but that just adds to the rustic charm.
  7. Once cake has completely cooled, it can be stored, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  8. To serve, cut into slices (a sharp knife run under hot water makes easy work of this), and sift some powdered sugar over the top, if you wish. Also delicious withe fresh fruit and/or whipped cream.
Created using The Recipes Generator

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