The truth is I am not a huge flourless chocolate cake person, but I like fast; I like chocolate; and I like short ingredient lists. And so when I first stumbled upon the recipe that inspired mine, Molly Wizenberg’s Winning Hearts and Minds Cake, and began tinkering with it, it didn’t even occur to me to make it flourless (even though her recipe calls for a measly one tablespoon of flour). Instead I made it passover appropriate, substituting 1 1/2 tsp of potato starch, for the flour, reworked the technique (more on that below), and called it a day.But this year, as Passover approached, and in light of my recent foray into the world of blogging, I decided that I wanted to/should create my own flourless cake. The books were opened, internet searches were performed, and my (kind of intense/scary) collection of clipped recipes, stuffed haphazardly in a notebook that will no longer close, were sifted through. I knew I loved the simplicity of the hearts and minds cake, but was eager to see what else was out there.
I rediscovered this Martha Stewart velvet chocolate cake recipe that I had clipped from Living back in 2004, and this article, that I had clipped from the New York Times back in 2006 (not truly flourless, but close), and this chocolate cake recipe from an old Gourmet. Perusing my cookbooks, I looked at Matt and Nato’s flourless chocolate cake (of course), from their first book, and all 13 of Maida Heatter’s, in her book of great chocolate desserts.
And my takeaway from all these recipes was that the difference between one flourless chocolate cake and another is not the ingredients, as they all include the same ones, but the technique or method by which the cake is made (the above recipes each ask that you do at least one of the following: separate eggs, beat whites til stiff and glossy, whisk yolks til pale and thick or pour hot sugar syrup into melted chocolate). Armed with this not-quite-newsworthy conclusion about flourless chocolate cakes, I set to work on my own.For starters, I wanted my butter to be salted (I know salted butter is controversial, as you have less control over the amount of salt in your baked good when you use it, but i’m partial to it, and I wanted dark brown sugar, as well as granulated, as I love the combo of dark brown sugar and chocolate. As for chocolate, I wanted at least a half pound and not something super dark (full disclosure, I used Nestle’s Toll House dark chocolate morsels and everyone who tasted the cake(s), inquired as to what high-end chocolate I was using . . .), as well as a bit of espresso powder to pump up the chocolate, but not so much that it would impart a coffee flavor. I went with a half dozen eggs, and rather than vanilla extract, added paste (but you can substitute in a pinch). I also removed the potato starch, as it was such a tiny amount and hardly seemed necessary.
As for my cake-making technique, that was easy. The ingredients of a flourless chocolate cake are essentially the same as those found in the now infamous baked brownie, minus the flour and cocoa powder. And I planned to assemble my cake as I had learned to assemble the brownies while working in the bakery (melting chocolate, butter, and espresso powder together, immediately adding sugar, followed by eggs and vanilla, whisked extremely gently, so as to avoid aerating the eggs).
And so, here you have it. An unbelievably moist, fudgy, intensely chocolate-y — but not in a too-sweet kind of way, and not in a super-bittersweet way either — dense, but also light (which I know makes no sense) flourless chocolate cake that involves no egg separating, excessive whisking, or flour (obviously). It has only 7 ingredients (6 if you consider the two sugars as one ingredient ) and comes together in a snap. In short, an ideal treat. Enjoy.
Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe
Flourless Chocolate Cake
- 2 sticks salted butter
- 9 oz semisweet chocolate chopped
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs room temperature
- Flaky sea salt for sprinkling optional
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and spray or butter an 8" cake pan. Place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, and spray or butter the paper. set aside.
- Place the butter, chocolate and espresso powder in a large mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water, over low to medium heat. Gently stir with a rubber spatula until the butter and chocolate have melted.
- Remove the mixing bowl from the stovetop, and add the sugars all at once, whisking until the sugars have been fully incorporated. Add the paste and then the eggs one at a time, breaking up each egg with your whisk, before gently whisking the egg into the chocolate mixture. To do this: rotate the bowl with your left hand counterclockwise, while your right hand drags the whisk through the batter from the top of the bowl to the bottom. Continue whisking in this manner until each egg has been fully incorporated: the whites can be a bit hard to break up and blend (although room temp eggs will blend more easily). However, do not be tempted to start whisking more aggressively. The texture of the cake benefits immeasurably from a slow and steady hand.
- Pour the batter in to the prepared pan. Place it on the middle rack of the oven and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the cake after 15 minutes. Begin checking on it at 30 minutes: at this point the middle of the cake may still be a bit wobbly, although the top should be quite crackly. Continue checking on the cake every minute or so until the center wobbles just the tiniest bit, if at all.
- Remove the cake to a cooling rack, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if using, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Flip the cake from the pan and invert it on to another rack to let cool completely. The cake can be eaten the day it is made, but benefits from a night in the fridge or freezer, carefully wrapped in a sheet of plastic wrap, and, if frozen, a sheet of tin foil. Serve slices with a dollop of creme fraîche.