Baked Sunday Mornings: Flourless Chocolate Cake

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Normally I would advocate for throwing flour into my cake batter (kind of a no-brainer, right?), but in the right ratios, the magical combination of chocolate, eggs, sugar, and butter can magically transform into a rich, decadent, and elegant dessert without flour. It’s perfect that this was our Baked Sunday Mornings recipe this week because it’s also the week of Passover, where Jewish people do not eat wheat and other grain products. The holiday of Passover commemorates the suffering of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and their subsequent exodus from bondage. This particular year holds more gravity than any other in recent memory, as we are locked down in our homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Passover is all about gathering with loved ones and celebrating our culture and history with a special meal and rituals that honor our ancestors. This year, I’ll be cooking myself matzo ball soup, one tiny Cornish game hen with roasted potatoes and carrots, and chasing it with a slice of this delicious Flourless Chocolate Cake from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking. I’ll probably Zoom with friends and family, as that’s the extent of social gathering that we’re able to do this year. I’m not a religious person, but I feel a more solemn energy around the holiday in 2020. Like, we’re commemorating the Ten Plagues… while taking shelter from an actual, live plague. Feels very “meta”…

Anyway, part of the Passover ritual is putting together a Seder plate with items that symbolize aspects of the Hebrew slaves’ suffering, including a lamb shank bone to represent the lamb’s blood that Jews put on their doorposts to protect their homes from the final, fatal plague: Death of the Firstborn. I didn’t bother curating a Seder plate just for myself this year, but not gonna lie… I bought the shank bone. Just, ya know, in case.

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Anyway, let’s talk about cake! This is a super easy recipe to throw together, which is helpful if you are preparing for a large, busy family meal. The most time-consuming part is separating 7 eggs and then whipping the whites– one of my least favorite baking tasks.  After melting the chocolate (I used half 61% and half 72% Guittard chocolate disks), you beat together the butter and sugar on high in a stand mixer, then add the egg yolks one at a time. You’ll then add the chocolate followed by the vanilla extract. Finally, whisk the egg whites and salt to stiff peaks, which you’ll gently fold into the chocolate mixture.

We are directed to pour the batter into a springform pan, which I didn’t understand because we are then supposed to flip the cake over– usually when using a springform pan, it’s because a cake must stay right-side-up. So instead I used a regular 9″ pan (3″ deep, like a springform) which I lined with a 10″ parchment circle so that it would climb up the sides of the pan a bit and theoretically make it easier to remove the cake. It baked for 33 minutes and was a tiny bit difficult to flip it out of the pan, but nothing that a small knife couldn’t solve.

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I was pleased that the cake was mostly level once it had cooled, with a crisp top surface and a handful of cracks. I almost didn’t make the glaze, but seriously, like I would pass up the opportunity for more chocolate. Pffff.

The glaze is a simple ganache, wherein you pour a mixture of hot cream and corn syrup over chopped chocolate, let it melt a bit, then whisk into a satiny pool. (You can also add Kahlúa, but I didn’t have any on-hand, and I wasn’t going to make a trip to Bevmo under the current circumstances.) It was thicker than I expected– too thick to drip smoothly over the sides of the cake, but I went with it. The recipe calls for two applications of ganache: first pour ¾ cup over just the top, chill it, and then pour the rest over the first layer and down the sides of the cake. The only thing I would change about this cake is that I felt the ganache layer on the top was too thick. It firms up solid, and there’s no need for that much chocolate on top. ( In fact, because so much chocolate was used for the top, there wasn’t quite enough to cover all the sides uniformly. Also, since the ganache was so thick, I had to coax it with an offset spatula in order to cover the cake more or less evenly.

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The cake needs to chill for a couple of hours to set. I first cut it after about 30 minutes only because I needed to photograph it before losing the sunlight. I didn’t love the texture at that point– the cake was almost like a pudding. However, it will firm up to be more like chocolate truffle filling once it’s been chilled, which is much more enjoyable. It is deeply chocolaty and definitely satisfied my chocolate cravings over the past few days as I’ve been obsessively watching the news. That being said, this is not my favorite flourless chocolate cake. When making one in the future, I would unequivocally reach for my favorite recipe from Ovenly, which is also easier to make because it doesn’t require beating egg whites, and oh-by-the-way includes a caramel drizzle. Still, this Flourless Chocolate Cake is solid, and you can find the recipe over at Baked Sunday Mornings.

If you celebrate Passover or Easter or Ramadan this month, I wish you Happy Spring Holidays, and may everyone stay safe and healthy!

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2020.

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