There are two kinds of ‘flourless’ Chocolate Cake. The first is the dense and fudgy type, which I have never liked. It’s way too intense for me. The second, which is my preference, is a lighter version, ethereal and tender.
If you are looking for the perfect dessert to make for Valentine’s Day, this is it! The real beauty of this cake is just how easy it is to make. Even the chocolate decoration come together in a snap. It’s meant to impress and it does!
For a cake that says ‘I Love You’ in the sweetest way possible, it’s the perfect dessert for anytime you want to make something extra special for the chocolate lovers in your life.
PS – Keeping it real, my daughter wanted to name this cake ‘Broken Heart Cake’. She recently went through a very difficult breakup with her long-time boyfriend. We had a good laugh, but I’m certain there were tears hidden behind the laughter. So, wherever your heart rests this Valentine’s Day, I say eat cake! Chocolate cake!!
Note: The directions for this cake may seem daunting, but in reality, it is pretty easy to make. Read through the directions completely before beginning. Chopping the almonds and chocolate can be done hours, or even days ahead.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) blanched whole or slivered almonds, toasted (purchased dry toasted almonds work too)
6 ounces semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate (I used a mix of the two), chopped into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Generous pinch of salt
Adjust a rack one-third up in the oven and preheat to 375˚. Butter sides and bottom of a 9×3-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter the paper. Dust the pan all over with dried bread crumb, shaking out excess.
Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave for one minute. Stir chocolate, and continue to microwave in 30 minute intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Process until finely ground and powdery.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until blended. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Turn mixer to low, add the melted chocolate, and beat until combined. Add the almonds and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer (if necessary, transfer the chocolate mixture to another large bowl), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice and salt, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium speed. When the whites begin to hold a soft shape, reduce the speed a bit and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Increase the speed to high, and continue to beat until the whites barely hold stiff peaks.
Stir a large spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mixture to soften it a bit, then, in three additions, fold in the remaining whites. Do not fold thoroughly until the last addition and do not handle any more than necessary.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then gently shake the pan side to side to even out the batter.
Bake for 20 minutes at 375˚, then reduce the oven temperature to 350˚ and continue to bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached. The top may crack some but that is okay.
Wet and wring out a kitchen towel, fold in half. Remove the cake from the oven and place on the wet towel to cool for about an hour. Remove the rim of the pan, and continue to cool until the cake has cooled completely.
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons powdered instant espresso or coffee
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Add the espresso powder and whisk to dissolve. Add the chocolate and stir over heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Let stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.
In the meantime, use a sharp knife to even out the top of the cake. Brush away any loose crumbs. Place a cooling rack or cardboard round over the cake and carefully invert (this is now the top of the cake). Remove the bottom of the pan and paper lining. Place four strips of parchment or wax paper around the edges of a cake plate or platter (this will keep the plate clean when icing the cake). Carefully transfer the cake to the cake plate.
Stir the icing to mix, and pour it slowly over the top of the cake, pouring it onto the middle. Use a long, metal spatula to smooth the top and spread the icing so that a little of it runs down the sides (not too much – the icing on the sides should be a thinner layer). With a small metal spatula or knife, smooth the sides.
Remove the strips of paper. Serve.
8 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
Decorative sprinkles or jimmies
Melt chocolate according to directions above. Spread to an even thickness on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle decoration over the chocolate. Allow to cool completely. Break chocolate into shards using a sharp knife.
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Queen Mother Cake