I know we’re in the middle of the notth heatwave of summer and the thought of eating anything but a bowl of cold cherries or, worse, something that requires you to turn on your oven sounds about as unpleasant as that oddly empty subway car (which doesn’t definitely has no air conditioning or worse) but trust me when I say someone in your friend group, family or life has a birthday coming up and they are hoping you will do that to them.
It’s the light, semi-collapsed disc of cognac-kissed dark chocolate that I name to be your decadent, armory-worthy cake for small but chic moments. It’s been in my rotation for over a decade – I’ve shared riffs on it in these cupcakes and in the small but intense chocolate cake of this book — because while I could never fit into those dense, nap-inducing bittersweet chocolate cakes of the early years, a few tweaks led me to this dream. Here’s what sets it apart:
Smaller: I know most normal people don’t have 6 inch cake pans in their pantry, but I’m still going to argue that you need one. In it, you can halve almost any standard round cake and have just the right amount for 4, 6, or even 8 people with such a rich cake. Cakes of this size also cook quickly, which is essential in the summer months. If you only buy one, get a springform pan because its superior sides are suitable for all recipes, including cheesecake.
More fluffy: Separating the eggs and whisking the whites until frothy only to fold them back into the batter is an extra step so please believe me I wouldn’t recommend this unless it would make all the difference. It makes all the difference here, it turns a cake that would otherwise have the density of a truffle into a cake that lifts off the plate. The soufflé-shaped dome deflates as it cools, leaving behind a hair-raiser of chocolate flakes that look even more inviting when dusted with powdered sugar.
Less chocolate: Listen to me. My biggest a-ha moment when making flourless chocolate cakes was that the most common formula of, say, 3 eggs for 3-4 ounces of butter and 6-8 ounces of chocolate didn’t work for me. . This formula uses less so you can keep the dreamy crumb but not the over the top intensity. It will convert you too.
6 months ago: Cauliflower salad with dates and pistachios
1 year ago: Plum and cream scone
2 years ago: Deviled eggs
3 years ago: Pasta with Pesto Genovese
4 years ago: Iced Watermelon Mojitos
5 years ago: Corn fritters And Bourbon Peach Smash
6 years ago: Hummus filled with tomatoes and cucumbers
He is 7 years old: Corn, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta
8 years ago: Fried Tomato and Provolone Sandwich
9 years ago: Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles And Grilled Peach Splits
10 years ago: Tomato Skillet Farro And Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
11 years ago: Corn hash with bacon
12 years ago: Raspberry Ricotta Whole Wheat Scones
13 years ago: Mango Salad with Cashews and Mint, Thai Chicken Thighs, Peach and blueberry cobblerAnd Tomato gratin with croutons
14 years ago: Light Buns Burger Buns, Blueberry Boy BaitAnd Lemon pizza with goat cheese and zucchini
15 years ago: Chocolate sorbet
16 years ago: Double Chocolate Layer Cake
Puff pastry chocolate cake
- 4 ounces (115 grams) bittersweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or in chips
- 4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cognac or brandy or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, separated
- Powdered sugar for sprinkling
- Prepare your mold: Heat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line the bottom of a 6 inch springform pan with 2 1/2 to 3 inch sides (i use this) with parchment paper and lightly coat the sides with butter or nonstick spray. If you are concerned that the springform pan may leak, wrap the outside of the pan tightly with a piece of aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet.
- Can I use a 6 inch springless cake pan with shorter sides (i.e. 2 inches)? Yes and no. Yes you can. I tested it several times. But the mushroom cake on top of the pan, which means even though it didn’t spill for me, it still could. But most of the time what happens is that the edges of this muffin top get drier and want to break the cake, and you don’t get the same nice flaky texture that you see here.
- Is bittersweet (72%) or semi-sweet (60%) better here? Both work. Although I’m not a big fan of super bitter chocolate cakes, since there’s less chocolate here than most flourless cakes, it can definitely handle more bitter chocolate without making bitter cake.
- Can I beat the egg whites by hand? You could! It’s definitely a big workout for the arms, but I believe in you. (Not me, you.)
- Can I double it? Absolutely. For a bigger cake for bigger celebrations, you can bake it in a 9-inch springform pan. This should take 35-40 minutes.
- Original note: Although that’s not where I started with this recipe (I took a flourless chocolate cake that I liked, reduced the chocolate and separated the eggs, like I do here), this cake happens to share a low-chocolate, high-pitched camaraderie with Richard Sax’s wonderful Chocolate Cloud Cake – consider this an appreciation hat!
Make the dough: Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each, or with the bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water on the stove. Remove from heat and stir in half the sugar (1/4 cup or 50 grams), salt and cognac. Add the yolks one at a time until smooth.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until thickened like loose whipped cream, then gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar, beating all the time, until soft peaks form. Pour about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and whisk; it lightens the dough. Add the remaining egg whites to the chocolate mixture, gently folding them in until no traces of egg white remain.
Bake the cake: Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until center is domed, moves only slightly when pan is shaken and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with no batter (some sticky crumbs are fine). Transfer to a cooling rack and while you can cool it completely in the pan, I’m convinced you get better flakes on top if you loosen the sides of the springform pan when it’s halfway cooled. First run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake wherever it is stuck. The cake will deflate as it cools and the center will sag slightly.
To serve and/or prepare in advance: I prefer this cake completely cold so I transfer it to the fridge to chill the rest of the way, about an hour or two. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve in small wedges with cream and berries, if desired. The cake keeps for a week in the fridge, although that is inconceivable to us, and longer in the freezer.
Anticipated remarks / questions: