This Hollywood Icon's Fave Recipe Has A Sad Backstory

Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Audrey Hepburn is forever remembered for her contribution to cinema and — perhaps more significantly — her impact on fashion. But, it might come as a surprise that the iconic actress stepped out of the spotlight during the latter part of the 1960s, not so long after My Fair Lady. Following the birth of her second son, Luca Dotti, she retreated further from Hollywood and shifted her focus to her family. Those years in the '70s were spent exchanging recipes with her friends, taking care of her young children, and baking her favorite chocolate cake on special occasions.

That caring image of a homemaker — not a glamorous movie star — is how Dotti remembers his mother in his "kitchen table biography," Audrey at Home. In it, he recounts the screen legend's favorite dishes, interspersed with her handwritten notes and personal drawings. In honor of what would have been her 86th birthday today, we're bringing you the recipe for what her family and close friends consider her pièce de résistance — the aforementioned cake. Her love for the dessert was a poignant reflection of her difficult childhood, according to the book, which says that biting on chocolate, pieces of bread, or her fingernails helped a young Hepburn "banish sadness" when her parents were arguing.

It was also the first thing she ate when Holland, where she lived during her formative years, was liberated at the end of World War II. Famished for far too long, she devoured a bar of chocolate gifted from a kind soldier and immediately fell ill: Her empty stomach was not able to digest the sweets. In her far more comfortable later life, chocolate remained her go-to evening snack and baking ingredient. To celebrate the iconic actress' birthday, go ahead and make her favorite cake recipe while you watch Breakfast at Tiffany's tonight — she wouldn't have had it any other way.

Chocolate Cake With Whipped Cream
Serves 12

Ingredients
11 oz unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing
8 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
Flour for pan
Powdered sugar
Whipped cream

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter and flour a 10- or 12-inch round baking pan.

2. Melt the chocolate with the milk in a bain-marie. Add the butter and stir to blend thoroughly. Turn off the heat and add 8 egg yolks; mix.

3. In a separate bowl, gradually add the sugar to the egg whites and whip to form stiff peaks. Gently fold into the chocolate-egg yolk mixture. Pour into the prepared pan.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the door, and leave the cake inside for a few minutes. This will prevent the crust from cracking.

5. Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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