As the Lenten Season comes to a close once again, I thought I would sneak in one more recipe that I feel can be welcome addition to any Easter spread. Lent is the most important time for us Catholics to recognise the sacrifices made by Jesus on the cross and I think this can be done in the simplest manner by appreciating every little blessing we have, including the food that gets put on our tables.
I’m not making hot cross anything this year because that’s all I seem to make for Easter the past few years, so I thought I’d make something different this time. I’ve been seeing a lot of flourless desserts among the blogs I follow (probably made to coincide with the Jewish passover, which is also around this time) and it has encouraged me to try my hand in making one as well. Plus my family hasn’t eaten homemade flourless anything before and I wanted to see how it would be received.
This was was my first time making a flourless cake and I had absolutely no idea how it was going to turn out. But I put my full faith in Mr. Lebovitz, aka the man who “taught” me how to make my first ice cream, first macaron, first madeleine… There’s probably another first in there I’m missing but I owe a lot to Mr. Lebovitz’s for introducing the techniques to some of my favourite things to make in the kitchen. It seemed only fitting that I use his recipe for another first.
For the record, this flourless cake would’ve been the bomb had I actually used a combination of dark and semisweet chocolate, or simply a chocolate with a lower cacao content. I used Malagos Chocolate, a local brand I have had the pleasure of trying out before at a food sampling event I was invited to. The baking supplies store I frequent recently started selling the Malagos 65% in bulk for a good deal, and knowing the quality I did not hesitate to buy. (Here’s an interesting article about dark chocolate, by the way.)
And while I was not wrong about the quality, my cake did not turn out as perfectly as I envisioned. Unfortunately the consensus was that the 65% was waaaaay too strong for the purposes of this cake. It would’ve been perfect had I combined some semisweet chocolate perhaps. My taste-testers and I thought the chocolate too bold and too thick, so I would recommend using chocolate with at most 50% cacao, and combined with a bit of semisweet 30-something percent chocolate for good measure.
Remember this cake relies heavily on the taste of your chocolate so use your favourite, tried and tested brand. I’m not giving up on Malagos of course! I’m still looking forward to trying their chocolate in other pastries– maybe a regular chocolate cake or cupcake in the near future.
Despite the overwhelming darkness of the chocolate, this recipe is in fact quite amazing. The cake bakes so beautifully, and the texture is somewhat mousse-like and somewhat cloud-like (marshmallow-like?) at the same time. I quite liked it, especially cold. Chef Lebovitz recommends eating the cake at room temp, but I thought it tasted better cold with a side of ice cream. Maybe it has something to do with how the very deep chocolate is tamed by the cold?
An important thing to note as you make this cake is to make sure the springform pan you use has been sealed using foil until watertight. Any water that escapes into the cake will affect its baking and will make it wet instead of creamy. You will also need a roasting pan for this because it’s baked half-submerged in hot water, like a cheesecake.
It’s also important to make sure your eggs are fully whipped before you mix in your chocolate. To check if it’s ready, a thin ribbon-like trail should be left on the surface of the egg mixture when you lift your mixer attachment. (Don’t worry! I’ve got some step-by-step photos below.) And then it will be a matter of simply folding in your egg mixture into the chocolate. The recipe itself only takes a few easy steps!
Makes one 9-inch cake
- 340 grams (12 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons (45 mL) dark rum, Cognac, or port
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 6 Tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Powdered sugar, for dusting the cake
- 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap a large sheet of aluminum foil around the outside and bottom of the pan, making sure it is completely waterproof. Set the pan in a large roasting tin.
- 2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate, cream, and rum. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.
- 3. In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whisk together the eggs, granulate sugar, and salt on medium speed until the mixture is thick and leaves a well-defined ribbon on the surface when you lift the beater, about 5 minutes.
- 4. Fold 1/3 of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then, fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
- 5. Pour very warm water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
- 6. Bake until the cake feels just set in the center, about 45 minutes. Remove the cake from the water bath and let cool completely.
- 7. Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Release the sides of the springform pan and dust the cake with powdered sugar.
- 8. For clean slices, cut this delicate cake using dental floss pulled taut between the fingers.
- David Lebovitz says this cake is best the day it's made stored at room temperature, but I think it gets better the next day after an overnight stay in the fridge.
Our only concession to decoration on this cake? A shower of snowy white powdered sugar.
Happy Easter to all!