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What Makes a Good Flourless Chocolate Cake?

Flourless chocolate cake seems to either taste either two ways -

1) Dry, almost to the point of crumbling. Tastes okay, but nothing exciting
2) Moist, rich, smooth - like fudge or a very thick cheesecake.

I've never made flourless chocolate cake, but I would love to understand what makes a cake like #1 or a cake like #2. I'd love to make and eat #2.

Alison

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  1. It needs to be like the Zuni Cafe (San Francisco) Gateau Victoire.

    Honestly, if no one had told me, I would't have thought it was flourless. It was a little more dense than the average chocolate cake, but certainly nowhere near as dense as cheesecake/fudge.

    The benefit to having no flour, in this case, was that the chocolate was less diluted.

    We shared this and a bunch of desserts, and several among us commented that they had finally been converted into flourless chocolate cake fans.

    photo: http://www.chezpei.com/uploaded_image...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Pei

      Yes, this is the only flourless choc cake I've really ever liked! As others have said, great ingredients are key. Zuni's is also baked gently in a water bath. I have the recipe somewhere and will post it when I find it...

      1. re: Carb Lover

        Did you post it? I'd love to have that recipe!

        1. re: Carb Lover

          dear Carb Lover,

          Did you ever find the recipe for Zuni's choc flourless cake? Please pass it on if you did. thanks.

          I found it online: http://www.chezpei.com/2008/04/zuni-g...

        2. re: Pei

          What ingredients does this one use? I've had quite a few, including the Cooks Illustrated one. While the first bite is good, it's almost too much for a whole slice. I haven't had one where I wanted more than a couple of bites (not that that's a bad thing).

          1. re: Pei

            The Zuni cake is by far the best flourless chocolate cake I've ever eaten. The texture is very nice (not dense/fudgy, more bubbly). Found a recipe for it in Julia Child and Company and tried it, but wasn't overly happy with my rendition. Will try this one again for next chocolate occasion! Thanks v much.

          2. It's in the chocolate,butter and cream.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Quine

              Precisely. Ingredients, first: Belgian Callebaut bittersweet chocolate, coffee, lots of eggs and heavy cream. After that, flawless technique: chocolate melting, beating of eggs, water-bath baking, timing.

            2. Gotham Bar and Grill's warm choclate cake is amazing
              Ingredients:
              high quality bittersweet chocoate, high quality unsweetened chocolate, brewed coffee, eggs, sugar, heavy cream.

              It is amazing! You make it, bake it, wrap it and refrigerate it overnight and then cut it while chilled. Then you re-wrap it and refrigerate or freeze it. Then, you put it back in the oven, still wrapped in plastic, on a very low setting. It stays there for between 30 minutes and 3 hours and then is rady to serve.

              It is moist and fudgy and delicious!

              3 Replies
              1. re: roxhills

                Would you happen to have the recipe for the Gotham Bar and Grill flourless chocolate cake. I know that it is in one of Alfred Portale's cookbooks, but I haven't had a chance to purchase the book. I adore his cake and so do my teenagers

                1. re: LA1PP

                  my 3 little ones are home this week on break. I'll try to post it when I have some spare time.

                  1. re: LA1PP

                    http://www.findarticles.com/p/article...
                    I just found this online. There is another step that involves chilling it and re-heating it. You may want to see if you can find it at the library...

                2. As Quine said, you absolutely must use high quality ingredients: organic everything, except the chocolate. I've been very disappointed in what passes for organic chocolate; most of it is inedible IMO. If you are near a Williams Sonoma, go buy the most expensive, highest cocoa percentage, dark chocolate they carry (Scharfenberger and Valrhona are two of the best), and if your recipe calls for cocoa powder, do not use the Dutch version; the alkali ruins the chocolate flavor.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: SDgirl

                    OMG how did we ever survive without "organic" ingredients?
                    I can attest to the fact that, circa 1945, we were able to prepare some very good recipes and "organic" wasn't even a part of the cook's vocabulary.

                    1. re: todao

                      The chemical fertilizer industry took off after WWII I believe, ingredients were fairly organic in and of themselves at the time, no?

                  2. In the Cake Bible, the Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte.

                    The secret to any of these is in the chocolate. Don't skimp and buy Hershey's Special Dark. Go high end. Because many of these recipes have very few ingredients, it is important that they be good.

                    1. Absolutely agree, its all about the chocolate!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ

                        speaking of which..are there ANY recipes in the Cake Bible that aren't divine? i haven't had a chance to bake them all

                        1. re: RiJaAr

                          RiJ..can't say for certain BUT I'm open to the job of taste tester!

                      2. Also, overmixing can make it dry. Mixing until the ingredients are just incorporated, or just until something disappears.

                        1. The one that I've made from the LaVarenne Pratique cookbook is a German style chocolate walnut cake (torte). It is dense, somewhat crumbly, and very rich.

                          Ingredients are:
                          1 2/3c walnut pieces
                          7 oz unsweetened chocolate
                          1 c butter
                          1 c sugar
                          4 eggs
                          The nuts and chocolate are ground together; cake texture will depend on the coarseness of the grind.
                          The butter is creamed with 3/4c sugar, then the egg yokes are added, and then the chocolate mixture.
                          The egg whites are whipped with the rest of the sugar, and folded into the chocolate mixture.
                          Bake 45-55 min at 300 in a 9" pan (lined with paper, could be spring form).

                          paulj

                          1. Over-baking can also make it dry. You should remove it from the oven when it's set but not totally puffed in the middle. It will sink slightly, but that's ok.

                            And yes, of course, it's all about the chocolate too.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Nyleve

                              Would baking it in a water bath help?

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                the baking time will change with each recipe HOWEVER, i would advise to actually take the flourless choc cake out of the oven while still shakey in the middle. you want the cake to rise and dome and then start to crash while still in the oven. just make sure that the cake HAS DOMED. take it out after its domed and started to fall. remember that while it cools it will sink. this is fine. it is going to happen, it should happen. this is what these cakes do. this collapse tho even adds to the dense-ness, the richness, the moistness. no worries. in the end i would say that pulling the flourless cake a little earlier than later is the way to go. we want moisture rather than dryness.

                                also, just picked up this little bit a couple days ago - using almond paste in a flourless choc cake as a binder. tastes great, too. the chef told me that the almond paste acts as the glue.

                              2. In my experience, the drier, crumblier versions have cocoa powder in them as a substitute for flour. also, overbaking will make them dry and crumbly.

                                Two I have used with success:

                                1) for the cocoa powder one, the gourmet one (look on epicurious) is incredibly easy. make sure not to overbake and definitely let it sit a night in the fridge. Both of these will make it less crumbly. when made right it's very good.

                                2) for the fudgy one, i like the chocolate oblivion truffle torte from the cake bible. It's really like cutting into a slice of soft, cakey, fudge, but it's a little more complicated to make.

                                1. I've made the flourless chocolate cake from Bon Appetite from a few months ago (Dec or Jan). It's dense and yummy. It requires beating the egg whites and yokes separately for volume then folding them in with the melted chocolate (I used callebaut). The cake souflees and then falls in the center, then the edges are pushed down so the cake is flat on top and then refrigerated. I top the cake with the ganache in the recipe but leave off the hazelnuts around the outside and the brandied cherries.

                                  1. Echoing others' comments, the quality of ingredients is paramount in a good flourless chocolate cake. I do use organic butter, cream and eggs, but do not particularly like organic chocolate. It definitely tastes off, and prefer to use Valrhona Guanaja.

                                    I find that recipes where they ask you to beat the egg yolks and whites separately form a drier cake. I don't think that's what you're looking for.

                                    This recipe (The Black Beast) certainly fits your description of cake #2, which is also my favorite.

                                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      i know this is an old post but it came up in my search earlier today. I used the epicurious recipe you posted here and served it with berries and whipped cream. Wow, it was delicious! Thank you for this keeper!