Halloween's cobwebs were still sticking to shop shelves and door hinges, but the flame-reds and golds of deep fall and the fast-approaching holidays have wasted no time in making their presence known. Gourds in all shapes, neck lengths, and bottom widths began spilling out of bodega entrances and decorating restaurant tables weeks ago. Styling work has had me roasting turkeys and mulling cider since the mercury was blazing red, so I'm a little over Thanksgiving and it's feathery trappings even before it's officially arrived. That being said, there is a fresh cranberry treat for you in the works.
In the meantime: a cake that's for grown-ups only. A cake that's sophisticated and chic, and not smothered in marshmallows and bog fruit. Dark chocolate—a whole pound of the bittersweet sort to be precise—fragrant lavender, and sharp, tannic Earl Grey tea. This dense, brownie-like chocolate concoction is rich, thick, but not saccharine, a simple and pared down dessert that surprises with hints of French florals and proper English stiff-upper-lip sternness. To get the most out of the flavors, loose Earl Grey and dried lavender blossoms are steeped in a small amount of water, then stirred into chopped chocolate and butter for a luxurious, glossy glop that's worked into a meringue-based batter that puffs, soufflé-like as it bakes.
One sliver of this unassuming-looking cake and you'll (at least temporarily) block out the memory of that brutal last-minute run to the circus that your local market became and the threat of mile-high dirty dishes you'll have to clean up on Black Friday.