If you believe my mother (and she's a pretty honest person), my first word as a baby, aside from "mama" and "papa"...was "chocolate". Apparently, it occurred following an incident where my grandma gave baby-me a fat spoonful of chocolate frosting, against my mother's wishes. As the story goes, my eyes lit up and I said the magic word: "chok-lit". True story.
So clearly, chocolate has played an important role in my life. It's been a lifelong friend.
In spite of that, however, I don't consider myself a "chocoholic". I would more often choose a blondie than a brownie, and I like the cookie part better than the chocolate chip part of cookies. But when I do get a chocolate craving, it is fierce, and I want chocolate and nothing else in my mouth.
In Santa Fe, where I currently reside, I have been introduced to one of my favorite chocolate cakes, which always satisfies chocolate cravings: the flourless decadence cake at Whole Foods. It's a very dense chocolate cake with (because, why not) a thick ganache topping). I don't know exactly what it is about this cake, but it is GOOD. Here's a picture of it:
When I recently wrote an article for New Mexico Magazine (out in January!), one of the recipes I developed was for a decadent flourless chocolate cake. When I made it, I was surprised at how close the cake part was to the Whole Foods variety, so I tried a new variation which featured not only flourless chocolate cake, but an all-over ganache topping.
Well, my friends, it worked, and I believe I have found the perfect homemade hack of the Whole Foods decadence cake.
I don't know how to express it in words, quite, but I will try. This cake is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very chocolatey. If you have a chocolate craving, this will do the trick. There's more than a full pound of chocolate encased in its glossy ganache-coated exterior. This cake means chocolate business.
The salt is key in this recipe, as it brings out the chocolatiness. If you want, you can add a teaspoon of coffee powder to amp up the chocolate flavor even more, but I don't find it necessary.
If you love chocolate, this is the only flourless chocolate cake recipe you'll ever need. If you don't love chocolate, this might be he one that makes you a believer.
Whipping the egg whites
Folding the egg whites into the chocolate
Pour into the pan
The only flourless chocolate cake recipe.
Makes one 9-inch round cake
For the cake
- 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus three tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 5 large eggs, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
For the sauce
- 1 batch ganache with cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the top of the parchment paper.
- In the top of a double boiler or in a large bowl set atop a saucepan of lightly simmering water with 2 inches between the top of the water level and the bottom of the bowl, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir frequently until the chocolate and butter have melted to the point where there are only a few small lumps. Remove from heat and continue stirring until these unmelted bits have melted in the residual heat.
- Whisk in the egg yolks into the still-warm chocolate mixture. Whisk quickly so that the eggs will be incorporated without beginning to cook (nobody likes scrambled eggs in their cake). Stir in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl using a hand mixer, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Once soft peaks form, stop the mixing and add the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary to make sure no sugar has stuck to the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing until the whites have attained firm peaks, but not so long that they become dry.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture in two separate additions (it’s just easier to manage that way). Mix only until there are no more traces of white and the mixture is fully combined.
- Using the same rubber spatula, scrape the thick chocolate mixture into your prepared baking pan.
- Place the pan in a larger baking dish or roasting pan, and fill the larger pan with water until it reaches halfway up the cake pan’s height.
- Place the entire unit (cake pan within bain-marie) into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. The top and sides will be set, but the middle may jiggle a bit. This is OK.
- Remove the cake from the pan of water (the water level should have reduced making it easier to remove). Let the cake cool in the pan. When ready to remove from the pan, run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the cake pan to loosen the edges. Place a serving platter on top of the cake pan, and flip both the pan and the plate so that the cake is on top. It should come out easily. The parchment may stay in the pan or it may come off with the cake; remove from the cake if so. Store in the refrigerator until the cake has completely set.
- While the cake cools, make the ganache as specified in the recipe. Let it cool until it has thickened to a spreadable but thick consistency, and spread all over the cake.
- Keep the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve; let it come to room temperature before serving.