Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe
Greetings, fellow quarantine queens! I've got a new isolation creation for you; flourless chocolate cake!
Thanks to COVID-19, everyone has decided they are an artisan bread baker and there is a very real shortage of flour and yeast at grocery stores. So what can you make without flour? Well, lots of things, but this chocolate cake in particular.
Aside from the fact that its coronavirus-proof, it's great to make for those who are gluten intolerant, celebrating Passover (because there's no leavener!), looking to make something that has a big visual impact but doesn't require a lot of effort, trying to occupy their children/themselves, and/or making something for a special grown-up date night.
Let's cut to the chase. Here is the recipe. You can watch a detailed step-by-step video here, and if you're at all interested in any of my baking tips then read on!
Samantha Mayfair Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe:
4 oz unsalted butter (one stick) , room temp, plus more to grease the pan/113 g + 1 tbsp for greasing
Cocoa powder for dusting, doesn't matter if its natural or Dutch processed
9 oz bittersweet chocolate/255 g
7 oz white sugar/200g
½ tsp Diamond kosher salt (if you have Morton's, use 1/4 tsp)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Grease 9" springform pan with butter and dust with cocoa powder.
Melt butter and chocolate together on a low simmer until combined, and set aside to cool.
While chocolate/butter mix is cooling, turn stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to medium low and start whipping the eggs. When they start to get foamy, reduce speed to low and pour sugar into eggs in a steady stream*. Once all sugar is added, jack up the speed to high and whip eggs and sugar until pale yellow and voluminous, about 3-5 minutes, and mixture is "ribboned".
Turn the mixer to low, and pour the cooled (it should be about the same temperature as your body), melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, add the salt and whisk only until just combined. Do several folds by hand if necessary to remove any streaks of egg.
Pour into prepared springform pan. Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes, and when the top starts to crackle it's done.
Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Remove springform, leaving cake on the base, and allow cake to finish cooling.
Once cool, top any which way you like. My favorite way to finish this cake is with a simple dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of brandy whipped cream (recipe below).
Brandy Whipped Cream Recipe:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brandy (halve this if you don't want it too boozy--you will definitely taste two tablespoons worth of liquor, trust)
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer!), add brandy to heavy cream. Whisk heavy cream/brandy mixture until it starts to foam slightly, then pour in the powdered sugar. Whip on medium high until soft peaks form. Serve alongside flourless chocolate cake.
NOW ONTO THE GOOD STUFF!
What will you need for this?
Small pot of simmering water
Springform pan: Use a springform pan dusted with cocoa, it’ll help keep the cake from sticking to the pan and will also not leave any dusty marks on your cake.
Mixer - stand or hand, the choice is yours!
*Pitcher: makes the sugar much easier to pour into the moving mixer
Good quality, chopped chocolate
Let's start with the eggs and the sugar.
Ok, so I mentioned there's no leavening. You might be saying what on earth she is talking about? Well, leavening is what makes baked goods rise; think yeast, baking powder, and baking soda, with the the latter two falling into the category of "chemical leaveners". So what makes this cake (technically this is a torte – no flour, one layer) rise if there's no yeast, no baking powder, and no baking soda?
That's right. This recipe gets its rise and structure from eggs whipped with sugar AKA the egg foaming method. Whipping the eggs traps air and sugar provides stability, giving your cake the oomph it needs to rise up in the oven. It is, in essence, a poor man’s pâte á bombe (whipped eggs mixed with a cooked sugar syrup, and in its final application is often the base for mousses, custards, and buttercreams).
Other famous egg foaming cakes you may have heard of include chiffon cakes, sponge cakes (hello, genoise!), and angel food. However, all those cakes contain flour and this one does not.
Here's a fun fact about eggs and sugar. If you want them to live in harmony, start whipping the eggs on low to break them up and get the inflation going a bit, then stream in the sugar. I don’t like to let sugar sit on egg yolks since causes the yolks to “burn”. Basically, sugar attracts moisture (it’s hygroscopic) and will pull that out of the yolks if it sits on them too long without actually mixing together, and you end up with gross little dehydrated yolk nubbins. Ew. So stream the sugar while you mix the eggs. This same concept applies if you are mixing by hand or with a hand mixer; get the eggs going first and add the sugar while you're whisking to avoid the yolk nubbins!
In this recipe, I'm using a 70% Valrhona dark, bittersweet chocolate. It's fantastic. I'm not into semisweet, but if that's how you get down then don't let me stop you.
I used a block of chocolate that I roughly chopped into small, even pieces. I purchased this block of chocolate at Whole Foods, which often carries premium quality chunks of chocolate (usually by the cheese section? I spend a lot of time here so I am intimately familiar). If you don't live near a Whole Foods, any premium baking chocolate from the grocery store will get the job done. I’ve even made this cake with chocolate chips and it works just fine!
However, a caveat for chocolate chips. Chocolate chips contain a bunch of stabilizers and preservatives that other baking chocolate doesn’t so that the chip stays shaped like a cute little chip. If you do use chocolate chips, I recommend a high quality brand such as Ghiradelli, Guittard, or Sharfenberger, all of which can be found in most grocery stores in some form or fashion.
Last but not least. How do you know when this cake is done??
It will be sunken in middle and crackled on top. If that sounds to you like something went awry, you'd be wrong! Here's why: Air bubbles!
Remember, all the air we whipped into the eggs and sugar mixture? Well, the wee air bubbles expand from the heat in the oven and as the cake cools, the air bubbles shrink and everything falls a bit. The crackly crust is actually technically a little layer of meringue. Cakes made with whipped eggs or egg whites will form a little crust on top and then fall a smidge after baking. Casual.
The interior will look slightly underdone and fudge-y, but will be surprisingly light and airy with a strong chocolate flavor. Another little pro tip? Sprinkle the finished product with a little flaky sea salt; this is how my husband always eats this cake.
Welp, I think that's about all the science I can handle for one blog post, but I hope this answered any burning questions you might've had. If you try this recipe out, let us know the results in the comments below! Happy baking!
And, as always, stay home and stay safe xo