Friday, June 22, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Two of them actually)

I know I should be posting something with berries. But don't worry, flourless chocolate cake is the perfect palette for a generous garnish of berries. And also, I just can't help myself. Several weeks ago, I wanted to make a flourless chocolate cake for a Sunday dessert. But I couldn't decide which flourless chocolate cake to make. So I made two. What can I say people? I'm a scientist. Or, well, at least where chocolate cake is concerned. I wanted to know which one I really liked the best. And all you lucky people get the benefit of that.

I tried one from America's Test Kitchen. And one from allrecipes. I'd had both before and I knew I really liked both. But I wanted to know which one was best.

I should confess, too, that there was one I really really wanted to win. The Test Kitchen recipe had only eggs, butter, and dark chocolate. Heck, that's not even dessert. That's breakfast. Which I say with my tongue in my cheek, although truly if your breakfast consists of little delicacies from a place that rhymes with Wispy Dreme. Or of waffles slathered in butter and syrup. Or of crepes smeared with Nutella. Or of really a very many sweet and rather unhealthy treats that we Americans--for reasons mysterious to dietitians throughout the world--consider perfectly acceptable as one of our three balanced meals, well then, you might as well add that flourless chocolate cake to your breakfast repertoire because when compared to donuts, cream and sugar filled coffees, and stacks of corn-syrup slathered white flour patties, this flourless cake is downright virtuous. The other reason I wanted it to win is that it divides really neatly into small one person servings. If you, on your little lonesome were to get a hankering one night for something perfectly decadent, you could just whip one up, bake it into a ramekin, and there you go.

I know some people think I'm nuts, but I have a strong affinity for the individual-sized dessert. I know it seems inefficient, but I really like a treat I can enjoy that one night I really want it, and be done.

Also, this cake is almost ridiculously easy to put together.

So, yes, I wanted that one to win.

But it didn't. I liked the other one better. Don't get me wrong, I liked them both. Kip couldn't even decide which he liked better because he liked them both a lot. But I definitely liked the recipe with the 3/4 C sugar better. I hope you will all forgive me for my weakness of character. To make up for it, here's a tip: You don't have to eat it all. This stuff freezes really well. I partitioned mine off into little slices with parchment paper in between and then--

well, then I was going to freeze it except that everyone in my family ate them. But trust me, this type of treat freezes beautifully. Some even say it's better after a few days in the freezer. So you can have your single-serving dessert and eat it too. And then you can have it again later in a month when you get another hankering. That is, unless, your spouse or children got the hankering first. If they're prone to that sort of thing, hide it behind the bag of frozen broccoli already.

Note: Both these cakes are best if cooked until they register 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer. This is when the sides are set and the middle jiggles. However, if you miss that point, as I have done several times in my busy and slightly distracted life (sometimes letting it get to 170-180 degrees), do not despair. This cake still rocks.

Eat It For Breakfast Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from Best Recipes Cookbook
Makes 1 nine-inch round
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 15-25 minutes
Cool time: a day if you're good, otherwise, a couple hours
Cost: $4.55
(eggs: .80, chocolate: 2.50 if using not the highest quality in the universe, butter: 1.25)

8 large eggs, cold
1 pound bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate, chopped
1 C (2 sticks or 16 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp almond extract, optional

Note: You see how this could easily be "single-servinged." Use 1 egg, 2 oz. chocolate, and 2 Tbsp butter. Bake in a small ramekin.

Put rack in the lower-middle portion of oven and heat to 325. Line the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper and grease the sides of the pan.

Now set this on a cookie sheet or in a large roasting pan. (That's because you're going to bake it in a water bath, although if you forget this part, as I have several times, it will still be mighty tasty.) Get a pot of water simmering while you prepare the cake.

Beat eggs until they double in volume. They're also going to look lighter when you done. It's nice if you have a stand mixer for this, but a hand mixer will do too. Here are some before and after pic's.



Melt the chocolate and butter. Do this in 20-30 second intervals in the microwave, mixing in between. Do this until it's all melted and well-mixed. Add vanilla/almond extract if using.

Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Note: To "fold" does not mean to "mix the crap out of." It means to kindly, gently stir it, as though you are softly flipping a pillow over, and over, and over again. Do this until it's all mixed in. 

Then add another third of the chocolate. And fold. And add the rest and fold. 

By the end it will look like this.

 Pour it into your prepared pan. Put your prepared pan in your other pan and put them in the oven.

Then, if you remember, pour your simmering water into the pan holding your pan, so that the water goes about halfway up the side of your pan (or as far as you can manage without spilling boiling water all over yourself or sloshing it in your cake batter or whatever). 

Bake about 15-25 minutes (I give a long range because if using a 9-inch pan, you'll need less time). The sides will be set, but the middle will jiggle and you'll think it won't set, but if it reads 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer, then it's good. Take it out (without sloshing hot hot water from the water bath all over yourself). It will set; I promise. 

If you're patient, cover and refrigerate for a day. This makes it even more silky smooth. But then you might really be tempted to eat it for breakfast, so maybe you should just eat it now. It's still really good. 

If desired, serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.

My Favorite Flourless Chocolate Cake (aka Weak Charactered Flourless Chocolate Cake)
adapted from allrecipes
Prep, cook, and cool times same as recipe above
Cost: $3.25
(chocolate: 1.00, unsweetened choc: .75, butter: 1.00, sugar: .10, eggs: .40)

6 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (1 C)
2 (1 oz) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped well
3/4 C butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C water
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350- degrees. Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.

Combine chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate, and melted butter.

Heat water and 1/2 C pluse 2 T sugar in a saucepan until boiling. Pour over chocolate/butter mixture. Stir until smooth.

Beat eggs with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar until thick and pale (just like pictures in recipe above).

Fold into chocolate mixture.

Place this in a water bath (as instructed in recipe above).

Bake for 15-20 minutes (maybe a little more if using an 8-inch pan). Remove when sides set and center jiggly and it reads 140 on an instant read thermometer.

Let cool.


Linked to Sweets for a Saturday

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