Flourless Chocolate Cake is one of our favorite desserts. Creamy, chocolate-y, sweet, intense, decadent but not too much. Not until I took it to a new level, that is. First, I added orange zest to the batter. Not a lot, but enough to give the cake a brighter flavor. Chocolate and orange is another one of those culinary matches made in heaven, if you ask me. This cake proves it.  But what really took care of decadence was adding a ganache on top, and then shaving Valrhona chocolate all over. OMG, this was stupendously good.



(adapted from this recipe)

7 oz extra bittersweet chocolate
14 Tbs unsalted butter  (1 + 3/4 sticks)
5 large eggs, separated
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of half a large orange
pinch of salt
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
for the ganache:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut in small pieces
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Shaved chocolate to taste for final decoration

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan.

In a small bowl, sift the sugar and combine it with the orange zest. Rub the zest with your fingers to release the oils into the sugar. Reserve.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over simmering water, heating until fully melted and smooth.  Transfer to a bowl, let it cool slightly for a few minutes, and whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla.  Add the sugar/orange mixture,  salt, and cocoa powder, while constantly stirring.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.  Gently mix about one-third of them into the chocolate mixture, fold the remaining whites trying to deflate them as little as possible. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan.  Place in the lower rack of the oven and bake for 25-28 minutes.

Remove the cake to a rack and immediately loosen the sides of the pan. Allow the cake to cool before icing. If the cake is too uneven, shave the protruding parts with a serrated knife to even out the surface, but no need to make it perfectly flat. Usually the edges will be a bit too high, with a collapsed center.

Make the ganache by heating the whipping cream in a small saucepan until bubbles appear along the sides. Place the chocolate in a small bowl, and add the hot whipping cream and the vanilla on top. Mix gently until the chocolate is fully incorporated, very smooth. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then pour over the cool cake. I like to do that by placing the cake back in the springform pan, so that the icing is contained. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Open the pan and remove the iced cake to a serving platter, leaving it at room temperature for half an hour or so before slicing it (a wet knife is a must).


to print the recipe, click here


Comments: I’ve always been partial to a classic flourless cake in which at most a delicate shower of powdered sugar would be added for cosmetic reasons. The surface of a flourless cake tends to be a bit cracked and uneven, as the cake puffs up in the oven, but then collapses in all its fugdy glory.  A dollop of whipped cream would show up in real special situations. But those who follow my blog might remember that my husband firmly believes that a cake is not a cake without frosting. Or icing. Or whatever indulgent concoction is added on top of it. Powdered sugar would not suffice. I made this cake the day before we would be hosting a reception at home, and Phil started his Movement For Frosting right away. I caved. Made a simple ganache and poured all over it early next morning. Then shaved some Valrhona chocolate on top. Decadent? Perhaps. But I tell you, this was one awesome cake.  Try it, serve it for your friends, sit back and wait for the compliments. Once they stop moaning, that is…

I apologize for not sharing a picture of the sliced cake, but I do not like to take pictures when we are having a get-together. Just imagine a very dense, moist, perfect slice, that when you cut with your fork, will leave a nice coating of slightly melted chocolate on its tines. You then use your lips – with as much elegance as humanly possible –  to clean the fork, and repeat the process. Ad libitum.


Have I mentioned that Valentine’s Day is coming up?
(wink, wink)

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We have weekly lab meetings, in which one member presents his or her work to the group. This year, to accommodate everyone’s busy schedule, we set the meetings for (ready for this?) 7:45 am on Fridays.

Talk about a tough pill to swallow! 😉

To soften the blow I often bake something for the event, but as a result of my cake-phobia, I usually resort to cookies or breads. However, last week I baked a recipe from (gasp) The Cake Bible. Before anyone who knows me goes into shock, let me clarify that this is NOT a real cake. It’s a much safer chocolate bread. The loaf ended on a happy note, but when I was finished baking my poor kitchen looked as if a herd of  elephants had blasted through. I’m not sure why I can make bread, pasta or savory pies from scratch, and my kitchen remains neat and tidy.  Bake a cake, on the other hand, and it’s indoor tornado season (sigh).

(from Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s The Cake Bible)

0.75 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed)
1.5 ounces boiling water
1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
5.25 ounces sifted cake flour
6 ounces sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
13 tablespoons (6.5 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

Heat the oven to 350F. Prepare a loaf pan (8 x 4x 2.5 inch) by greasing it with butter, covering the bottom with parchment paper, greasing it with butter, and covering the pan with a dusting of flour.

Whisk together the cocoa powder and the boiling water until smooth, then let it cool to room temperature. Mix in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Add the remaining dry ingredients to a large bowl, and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend them together. Add half of the chocolate mixture and all the butter. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed to aerate it. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and beat the other ingredients in two additions, beating for 20 seconds each time. Spoon the batter in the prepared loaf pan, smooth the surface with a spoon or spatula.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Mine took 60 minutes). If the cake is browns too much, then protect it by covering it loosely with aluminum foil. If you want to have a nice slashed look on the loaf, make a cut with a serrated knife 20-25 minutes into baking time, when the loaf will be starting to form a central split. Make the shallow cut quickly, around 6 inches long.

Once the cake is baked, allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove it to a cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are cake-challenged, this recipe is for you. It’s simple to prepare, and even if it doesn’t look stunning like Johnny Depp, it’s still mighty tasty.  The first bite may seem bland, but the cake slowly dissolves in your mouth – it’s the butter doing the talking – and a very pleasant chocolate flavor warms you up.  The kind of cake that makes you go back for “just another little slice”.  Surely enough,   by 10am on Friday, only crumbs were left over the conference room table.   😉

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