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best flourless chocolate cake recipe?

Hi Chowhound cooks,

I want to make a flourless chocolate cake for my friend and in researching recipes, I find that the ingredient amounts swing wildly from recipe to recipe....I can't get a grip on the best recipe.

For example, martha stewart's recipe calls for only 6 tablespoons of butter and 6 eggs....and Tyler florence's recipe calls for 1 stick of butter and 9 eggs...and another recipe I found called for 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) and 8 eggs.

I know baking is a science, but when I see recipes like these that seem to be all over the place, I can grasp which one would be best to go with.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Well, what do you consider "best"? Do you like a fluffier cake or something that is more like a torte?

    Since I'm massively lazy, my favorite recipe is one that takes me about 20 minutes to make, including oven time. I consider that the best recipe ever. :) It's more like a dense torte than a flour-based cake.

    12 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      The dense torte sounds perfect! Look forward to seeing your recipe, and thanks for sharing!

      1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

        Here you go. Apologies for not attributing the original Internet source off of which this recipe is based, since I can't seem to find it. This has been in my recipe files for about six years now and sees frequent use.

        Quick and Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

        - 12 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli 60% cacao bittersweet to good effect, I think; it's very intensely chocolately and not overly sweet)
        - 1/2 C. butter
        - 1/4 C. sugar
        - 1/4 C. strong freshly brewed coffee
        - 2 T. liqueur (Kahlua, Chambord, brandy... I've even used bourbon)
        - 3 eggs
        - cocoa powder for dusting

        Heat oven to 425°F. Butter 8-inch springform pan. The cake has a tendency to stick to the sides and bottoms of the pan, so a dusting of cocoa powder can be helpful.

        In medium glass bowl, combine chocolate, butter, 1/4 cup sugar, coffee and liqueur.

        Microwave on high 1-2 minutes until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth when stirred. (For my microwave, I check after the first minute and stir at the 1 minute, 1.5 minute and 2 minute markers.)

        Whisk in eggs until smooth and VERY well blended. (Whisk until past the point where you think it's well blended, since a stray albumen 'fiber' really ruins the texture.)

        Turn mixture into prepared pan. Bake 13-15 minutes.

        Cake will not completely set in middle. Sides should pull away slightly from pan. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold.

        I use a slightly warm butter knife to separate the cake from the sides of the pan before releasing if the cake hasn't pulled away from the sides of the pan enough. Dust with additional cocoa powder or powdered sugar if you like that aesthetic. (It's a good way to distract from cracks if you have any.)

        Makes 10 servings.

        1. re: cimui

          I haven't tried the above recipe, but wanted to comment that Alice Medrich (and other chocolate experts) tend to advise not to bake with chocolate chips (unless you are making, say, chocolate chip cookies), since they contain stabilizers that help them keep their shape. This detracts from the quality of the chocolate when melted, supposedly, so it would be better to use a high quality bar and cut it into chunks. If anyone can make this argument more scientific, have at it. I'm playing a bit fast and loose with the facts, I fear.

          1. re: bella_sarda

            I've used both in baking (chips were recommended by Julia Child at some point as well), as long as you aren't using low quality waxy chips they both work. Maybe not as exquisite results as high quality chocolate, but actually preferred by one of my friends who doesn't like supercharged intense chocolate.

            1. re: buttertart

              Well, now you are probably talking about changing two variables at the same time, since i suspect the cacao content of the "supercharged, intense chocolate" was likely higher than that of the chips. If you want less-intense chocolate, just use a lower cacao content, chips or not.

              1. re: bella_sarda

                I use every kind of good chocolate with variable percentages I can lay my hands on in my baking - from Bernachon to Trader Joe's store brands - and have used regular chocolate chips in flourless chocolate cake with success as well. If that's all that's to hand for whatever reason, they work. And as noted some people (benighted though they may be) prefer the "regular" chocolate taste of chocolate chips in such preparations.

            2. re: bella_sarda

              Thanks for that tip, bella! I frankly haven't noticed a difference, but then again I'm far from being a chocolate expert and haven't done a side-by-side comparison. I'll remember this for next time I have to make a chocolate dessert for capital "C" Company.

              1. re: cimui

                Here is the direct quote from Alice Medrich (from her excellent book "Pure Dessert"):
                Chocolate chips....are formulated with less cocoa butter than bar chocolate so that they hold their shape when baked. They are usually less smooth on the palate and relatively sweet compared with a fine bar of chocolate...I never use chocolate chips in place of bar chocolate for melting and mixing into batters, mousses, ice creams, or other desserts because they are much sweeter than I like and because they are formulated to hold their shape, so they do not melt well."

                So it wasn't stabilizers per se, but the lower cocoa butter content that impedes melting. Medrich says that she basically always prefers chopped chocolate to chips, even when making choc chip cookies, based on sweetness and mouthfeel, but that's personal preference.

                I personally recommend Scharffen Berger chocolate for baking. They have recipes targeted to their different bars, based on their cacao levels. I think that the 60% bar comes with a recipe for "Chocolate Orbit Cake", which was originally by David Lebovitz. I haven't made the cake but it looks very simple and if it's Lebovitz it's got to be good.

                1. re: bella_sarda

                  I do prefer good bar chocolate for baking, and agree that chips are generally sweeter, but I don't understand the comment about chips not melting well. I make only one regular recipe (other than toll house cookies) that uses them, a Passover dessert where you bake a layer of matzos in a sugar sauce to caramelize, then take it out of the oven, spread chips on top while it's still hot, and a few minutes later take a spatula and spread the chocolate evenly. They always melt easily and completely and are not grainy at all.

                  1. re: BobB

                    My experience as well, no problems with melting or with post-melting texture.

                  2. re: bella_sarda

                    I once made 2 flourless chocolate cakes (Rose Levy Beranbaum's Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte). http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/rec...
                    For one, I used Nestle's semi-sweet chips and the other used a broken up 70% cocoa Scharffen Berger bar. In a blind side-by-side taste test, nearly everyone at work (~25 workers at a gourmet deli) preferred the Nestle's to the Scharffen Berger. I suspect because the SB cake was both more bitter and less sweet.

              2. re: cimui

                I flew home from California on the red eye -- then went to work -- then had to come home to get ready to go to a seder. I had very little cooking time but wanted to bring a chocolate dessert. I usually do a flourless chocolate cake that has to cook for 1.25 -- but didn't have the time this time around. I tried this recipe and I wanted to report back that everyone really liked it. It was rich, dense and fudgy and so easy to make.

          2. I've not made it myself, as I don't eat sweets, but David Lebovitz's Chocolate Idiot Cake sounds like a really good one, and quick and simple to make. It contains 1- ounces chocolate, 7 ounces butter, 5 eggs and one cup of sugar. You can access it at his website:

            www.davidlebovitz.com

            5 Replies
            1. re: janniecooks

              David's cake is really good, and super easy. It's my go-to recipe.

              1. re: janniecooks

                Uh, that should read 10 ounces of chocolate, not one ounce.

                1. re: janniecooks

                  I made this last night, and really don't care for it. I used bittersweet Scharffen Berger, added a bit of coffee granules to kick up the coffee flavor because the batter tasted so bland. It was kind of an inferior version of a favorite recipe:

                  Boule de Neige:

                  10 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
                  1 cup sugar
                  2 ½ sticks butter
                  ¾ Cup strong coffee

                  Melt the above in a saucepan over hot not boiling water, then whisk in 4 beaten eggs.

                  Line mold with foil, pour in batter. Place mold in pan with 1 inch of water. Bake at 350 F for 1 ¼ hours (it will look loose). Refrigerate overnight. Unmold before serving, and cover with fresh whipped cream.

                  1. re: janniecooks

                    Figured it was a typo its 9z of chocolate. Made for thanks giving very very good thanks. Did stick to the bottom the pan but did not care...

                    dc

                    1. re: don515

                      I've never had it stick to the foil lining the pan, since it's almost all butter. But to avoid that in the future, you could dip it into warm water briefly before unmolding. Blemishes aren't so much of an issue, since you cover a multitude of sins with the whipped cream. :-) Glad you liked it.

                      My original recipe calls for 10 oz of chopped chocolate, I just checked it.

                  2. The Ottolenghi flourless chocolate cake is a winner in the denser division (although a bit fussy to make), and Dorie Greenspan's amaretti chocolate torte aka 15-minute miracle is excellent and since made entirely in the food processor, a snap to make.

                    1. My go-to recipe for my most chocoholic friend's birthday each year is Lora Brody's Bête Noir, from her book Growing Up on the Chocolate Diet.

                      It's flourless, really easy (uses a food processor) and so rich that a one-inch slice is plenty. I gild the lily by topping it with a dark chocolate ganache.

                      http://books.google.com/books?id=OyNj...

                        1. If you want something a little different, try these flourless chocolate cupcakes. They're fabulous (and, don't let the Kosher for Passover dissuade you...just reaffirms that they're flourless).

                          http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2008/04...

                          1. Here you go, La Bete Noire:

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

                            I learned of this recipe here on Chowhound and have made it more than once. It is truly delicious, and easy!

                            Let us know what you do, Lynndsey. You have a lucky friend!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: fern

                              thanks to everyone for all the great info and advice. i must confess tho....all this info perplexes me further. some recipes call for whites to be whipped on the side, and some recipes call for all eggs to be mixed at once. im gathering the recipes w/o whites whipped separately will be denser?

                              the la bete noir is another new one....creating a simple syrup first which then gets mixed in?

                              fern, are your results a dense torte like dessert?

                              thanks again everyone...i'm tempted to make two different versions and do a comparison. i'll write back on saturday and let you know the results!!!!

                              1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                                I can only speak to David Lebovitz' recipe. The eggs are not separated, and the torte is somewhat dense but lusciously smooth. It's incredibly easy. (I add a teas. or more of vanilla to the batter).

                                http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives...

                                I've also made Nigella's Chocolate Cloud Cake, which calls for separated eggs and beaten whites. It is also fabulous, but the texture is a bit lighter and the chocolate experience a little less dense. I guess it comes down to whether you want a truffle-like experience, in which case you'd go with the whole egg recipe, or something a little more subtle like the ones with beaten whites.
                                Good luck!
                                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ni...

                                1. re: bear

                                  Excellent distinction - Cimui alludes to it too. I've avoided the flourless chocolate cake for so long . . . there are just so many recipes out there that are "the best". But thinking of these two different categories for the same thing makes it all clearer. Great thread. Thanks to Lynndsey for starting it!

                                2. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                                  Yes, the cake is definitely dense, and intensely chocolatey. Love the idea of doing two and comparing! Your thread makes me want to try some new ones, too. Hmmm.

                              2. THE FOLLOW UP
                                Thanks again to all you Chowhounds who offered recipes, advice re: my query for the flourless chocolate cake recipe. I made two recipes - THE BETE NOIR, and the martha stewart recipe.

                                I decided to make these two because the recipes seemed the most different from each other:

                                THE BETE NOIR started with a "simple syrup" of sorts, called for 18 oz of chocolate, the eggs (yolks and whites) were incorporated at the same time, and this required a water bath.

                                THE MS RECIPE called for whites to be beaten separately, called for only 8oz of chocolate.

                                Both were pretty simple to make.

                                Now, the taste test. Of course taste is subjective, but I served both of these cakes to 12 guests. Hands down, the Martha Stewart one won. It had a light, but surprisingly chocately and rich texture. Everyone also liked the Bete Noir, however, most people said the BEAST was just too fudgy, too intense - some folks said they felt like they were eating pure ganache.

                                My opinion? Both were delicious, but for different reasons. The Beast is indeed, the Beast. It had a wondrously smooth texture...it was almost like a chocolate POT DE CREME.

                                But for a flourless chocolate cake, I'd have to go with the beaten whites recipe (be it Martha stewart or otherwise)....it had wonderful mouth feel and you feel good after eating a slice. The Beast....you eat a bite and its delicious, but its also more than enough.

                                So thanks again everyone and I hope this follow up was helpful!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                                  Thanks for posting back to let us know how it went.

                                  I've been investigating flourless chocolate cakes for ages, since I've got a few friends here who are gluten-free. My usual complaint with them is that they can be very crumbly and dry in texture (except for tarts, which usually feature pure ganache in a shell). I'd just about given up when someone gave me Sophie Dahl's cookbook. It happens to have a flourless chocolate cake recipe. I tried it on the spur of the moment once and it was fantastic. Brought it to friends who all insisted on having the recipe. It was light but moist, and really deeply flavorful. That will be my go-to recipe from now on. If you are interested, I'll find and post it.

                                  1. re: Kagey

                                    Thanks Kagey, would love to have the Sophie Dahl recipe. I would highly recommend the Martha Stewart recipe too (link below) - it came out perfectly moist and delicious and taste even better the next day. The key is not to overbake the cake, which will result in crumbly texture. Good luck!

                                    http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/b...

                                    1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                                      Hey. Sorry for the delay. Here it is:

                                      You need:
                                      Butter for greasing
                                      300g dark chocolate, broken into pieces, or use mix of dark and milk if you like.
                                      225g sugar (caster or superfine if you can find it)
                                      180ml boiling water
                                      225g butter, cut into cubes
                                      6 eggs, separated
                                      1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
                                      1 tablespoon vanilla extract

                                      1. Grease and line 20cm/8in or 23cm/9in round cake pan. A springform works well here.

                                      2. Preheat oven to 180c, 350f.

                                      3. In a food processor (in more than one batch if you need), pulse the chocolate and sugar till fine. Add boiling water, butter, egg yolks, coffee powder, and vanilla.

                                      4. In a different bowl, whisk the egg whites till stiff. Add to food processor and mix for 10 seconds or so.

                                      5. Pour into cake pan. 45-55 minutes (longer for smaller pan). The top will crack. When you take it out it will collapse. Let cool, then refrigerate for a few hours. Serve with cream and berries if you want.

                                      Thanks for the MS recipe. I might try it sometime, but years ago I had a few terrible experiences with her recipes, and got rid of the book, never looked back! Might be worth another look...

                                  2. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                                    Now I have to try the Martha Stewart recipe!

                                    1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                                      "..too fudgy, too intense - some folks said they felt like they were eating pure ganache."

                                      And the problem with that was...? ;)

                                      Seriously, this was a great thread. I have often wondered about the differences in these recipes - especially the eggs. It pains me to use half a dozen eggs on a new recipe that might flop or just not be what I'm looking for. Thanks to your guests for enduring the hardship of sampling two flourless chocolate cakes. Wish I could have carried some of that burden for them.

                                    2. Shirley Corrihor has an interesting discussion on flourless cakes in her book "Bakewise". It discusses issues of dryness and texture She has a recipe i haven't tried yet, but the discussion is useful.

                                      1. Personally I like the JOLT recipe for chocolate cake. It's easy and really nice. Oh yes it has strong coffee in it so coffee chocolate and a little orange liquor... what could be better. Mine came from Gourmet years ago and is on line if you want to look it up. It is the dense dark truffle like cake. I make it for my moms birthday. You can only eat a really small piece, so be carefu

                                        1. I love Nigella Lawson's recipe for Chocolate Cloud Cake.

                                          Link below:

                                          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ni...

                                          1. It's interesting that none of the recipes posted here have a pinch of salt in them. Most desserts, but especially chocolate or caramel ones are that much better with just a little salt . . . I normally would just add it anyway, but now I'm wondering if there's a reason for the "omission" since it's so consistently absent here?

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                                              Good point. I always add a little salt, and I don't think there is a reason for the omisission, but I could be missing something.
                                              I also almost always add vanilla even when the recipe doesn't call for it. Seems to add a good depth of flavor.

                                              1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                That is strange, I didn't notice that but would also always add 1/4 -1/2 tsp salt when making these (as well as any other baked good or other sweet - one of my mom's cardinal rules was "never sweet without salt"). Sweets taste flat without salt. Also with bear on the vanilla, and often add a drop of almond extract with vanilla for enhanced effect.

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  I'm with both of you on the vanilla too. And I add salt to all sweets too, not just chocolate, as my mother did. I have this theory that salt dropped out of the equation when everyone started insisting on unsalted butter. But when a pastry chef is publishing her cherished gran's shortbread recipe (or whatever), the author often forgets that grannie didn't have unsalted butter. I often use the salt test to decide if I'm going to buy a dessert cookbook. If they leave it out . . . they lose some credibility with me. Also I don't want to waste the calories eating something as fattening as a butter cookie, if there's no salt - it'll taste too "flat" as you say.

                                                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                    I usually add a bit of salt to sweet recipes, too, and some lemon juice or zest to fruit recipes to amp up the flavor.

                                              2. Chocolate-Ancho Chile Flourless Cake: I am extremely late to this game but this recipe is always a hit. The first time I made it, for a friend's engagement party, it was consumed in about 5 minutes (luckily, I had saved a piece for her, otherwise she would never have gotten it! It is Emeril Lagasse's recipe, and can be found on Food Network. I serve with a cinnamon-spiced whipped cream. The ancho chile gives a satisfying richness to the flavor with just a hint of heat. Delish!

                                                1. My favorite recipe is Maida Heatter's Queen Mother's Cake. Here is a link but you can find the recipe all over the web as well in some of her books.

                                                  http://www.caderbooks.com/exmcake.html

                                                  1. This recipe sounds wonderful. My DIL has celiac so I make a lot of gluten free for her. One question: does it have to be refrigerated? I want to make it for a holiday & would be traveling to someone's home, 4 hrs away. My email is knitterforever@aol.com & thanks for listing this recipe - yum!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: veggielover

                                                        Thank you so much for your quick response