Flourless chocolate cake has become one of my favorite desserts this past year. Partly, because my chef friend (Tony) makes amazing flourless chocolate cake and would serve it on occasion when we came over for Sunday dinner – what a wonderful gluten-free dessert! And partly because it’s so simple to make, but looks simply elegant. Turns out it is my friend Kasia’s favorite cake as of late, and now a birthday tradition.
It’s going to change your life once you realize how easy it is to make this. And then you’ll want to make it ALL the time 😉
It takes about 15 minutes to make the cake “batter”, another 5 hours to allow the cake to set, and another 15-45 minutes to bake the cake. Why such a large range for baking times? Well, it really depends on the size container you bake it in. If you bake it in little ramikins, it will only take about 15-20 minutes to bake. If you bake it in a cake pan, it will bake upwards of 45 minutes.
For this recipe, you will need:
Wax paper or parchment paper to line the bottom of your cake pan
200 g of at least 64% chocolate (that’s two chocolate bars, dark chocolate, the darker the better)
5 eggs, separated
1 stick of salted butter (1/2 c.)
1/2 c. of cane sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. coarse sea salt
some extra pieces/morsels of chocolate for the center of each cake
powdered sugar for garnish
fresh fruit (dark berries) for garnish
First, grease your cake pan (I am a fan of the coconut oil spray).
Trace a circle on the wax paper or parchment paper with the bottom of your cake pan. Cut out the circle and line the bottom of the cake pan. Spray the bottom with a bit of extra oil spray, just for good measure.
Next, melt together the stick of butter and the bars of chocolate (broken into small pieces). There are three was you can melt the chocolate and butter: 1) double boiler, 2) carefully in a small saucepan, or 3) carefully in the microwave. All three work – this is really dependent on whether or not you have a double boiler and whether or not you have a microwave.
The point is, carefully melt the chocolate and butter, without scorching the chocolate or browning the butter, i.e. heat gradually, watch, and stir frequently. The mixture should be smooth in texture, no lumps.
Set aside, and allow the butter and chocolate mixture to come to room temperature.
Next, add the egg whites to a high mixing bowl and whip them until softly formed peaks hold.
Add the sugar and continue to whip until medium peaks form – see below.
That shot was not taken at precisely the right moment to capture the stream of meringue – the peak simply formed as I pulled the whisk out of the bowl and held. That’s what I mean by medium peaks. They hold firm, but still look soft.
By now, your butter chocolate mixture should be cooled to room temperature. But check it first. If it’s too hot, it will curdle during the next step……so, if you need to, put it in the fridge for a bit to speed up the cooling process.
Add a bit of the chocolate mixture to your egg yolks and mix until blended. Add a bit more and blend.
You’re increasing the temperature of the yolks slowly, so that they will not actually cook when you add them to the chocolate mixture.
Add the yolk mixture to the chocolate and mix until well blended. The mixture will thicken and darken in color. Add 1 t. vanilla and 1 t. salt and mix.
By hand, gently fold the chocolate/yolk mixture into the meringue. This step requires some elbow grease. What happens if you blend with a mixer? You’ll ruin the soft structure that the meringue is providing in this cake, so no short cuts 😉
Once the “batter” is well mixed, place 1/2 into the bottom of your lined, greased cake pan. Add the extra chocolate morsels, and then cover with the remaining batter.
Tap the cake pan on the counter to smooth the top and get rid of any big bubbles.
Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours to set. You can just as easily make the day before and allow it to set in the fridge overnight. This step is pretty important. I’ve made this several times, and allowing it to set is critical.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Once your oven reaches temperature, place the cake pan in the oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes.
The cake will start to pull away from the sides of the cake pan, and a toothpick, when inserted into the center of cake, will come out clean. I also find that the aroma of a chocolate becomes very rich when the cake is about done. Keep your eye on this cake when you’re at the last 10 minutes or so – overcooked and it becomes too firm with browned edges.
Allow the cake to cool.
If I had used a spring foam pan, I could have simply opened up the pan and served the cake on the bottom of the spring foam pan. For the cake pan, place your serving plate over the cake pan and flip.
The cake should simply drop out of the cake pan onto the plate. Remove the wax paper or parchment paper liner from the top.
Next, I used a metal strainer to dust with confectioner’s sugar. Place 2 T. of confectioner’s sugar into the bottom of the strainer. Over the cake, tap the strainer to dust.
I also garnished with some strawberry slices. Raspberries and blackberries work just as well.
Serve and enjoy!
P.S. Change up this recipe by using different chocolate. You could also coat with a chocolate grenache or caramel drizzle. You could also dot the center with pieces of white chocolate, sea salt caramels, or peanut butter chips for a fun surprise in the center 🙂
Also, if you want this to be completely dairy free, substitute a refined coconut oil for the butter; it does the trick 🙂
Want to make this for a friend that can’t have a lot of sugar? You can substitute with Splenda – one to one substitution for the cane sugar.