Chocolate has a place in my kitchen and my heart because that is where my chocolate desserts are born: for my friends, family and my beau. Stephen has his favorite desserts that aren’t always chocolate, such as cheesecake, tres leches cake, crème brûlée, etc. And while he has had his far share, it’s important not to spoil them…too much. It is with this thought that I decided to spoil myself.
Leafing through my old baking notebooks from culinary school, creaking with flour and grains of sugar, I always come back to a handful of my personal favorites: fragrant frangipane tart with wine poached pears, rich Sachertortes, airy profiteroles filled with light Chantilly cream and, of course, flourless chocolate cake.
This cake is basically chocolate custard folded with whipped egg whites, producing a dense, sometimes fudge-like cake. If you make nothing else from this blog, bake this. It requires a few ingredients and comes together pretty quick for a dessert of its caliber. When the cake comes out of the oven it will be puffed, and light brown. As it deflates, the crust, which in my mind is like a thin meringue shell, will begin to crack, giving you a glimpse of the rich chocolaty goodness that lies beneath. In culinary school we were encouraged to press down on the cake to make a flat, even surface to make multi-layered cakes covered in a blanket of ganache. But I think the cracked crust look is sexy.
This recipe yields two 9-inch round cakes. You can decorate and eat the cakes anyway you like. I made a two layered cake and the other I simply served in the baking dish. My photos reflect cakes topped with strawberry whipped cream, fresh strawberries and a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar. But this recipe is for the flourless chocolate cake; how you dress it is up to you. If you stack it, spread a thin layer of chocolate mousse between the cakes for an extra decadent dessert. Try different berries too, like sweet-tart blackberries and even edible flowers.
If you decide to make this elegant dessert for your Valentine, please share a photo with me and make me swoon.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Yields 2 9-inch rounds
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
10 each large egg yolks
6 ounces white granulated sugar
8 each large egg whites
1. Set up a double boiler/bain-marie: Fill a medium-large pot with about 2-3 inches of water. Place a metal/glass mixing bowl over the boiling water, making sure the boiling water does not touch the mixing bowl.
2. Add the chocolate and butter. Mix with a clean, dry silicone spatula until melted. Carefully remove from heat. Allow the melted chocolate to cool. Reserve.
3. In another large bowl mix together the egg yolks and half the sugar (3 ounces) with a whisk. Reserve.
4. In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites and remaining sugar (3 ounces) to medium peaks with the whisk attachment. Reserve.
5. Mix in the cooled chocolate into the egg yolks until fully incorporated.
6. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare your baking dishes by spraying them with a non-stick baking spray. (You can use springform pans for easy unmolding or cut a round of parchment/wax paper to line to bottom of your dish and spray as well. If you prefer to simply serve the cake in the dish (without unmolding) you do not need to put down parchment paper.)
7. Fold in the whipped egg whites into the chocolate/egg yolk mixture. Do this in three parts, making sure to fold in the whites gently. Fold until just combined, being careful not to over-fold.
8. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is set in the middle.
9. Allow to cool completely before unmolding and/or topping with whipped cream, ice cream or powdered sugar.