I know all you summer birthdays feel me when I say that being born in either June, July or August can be a real downer for one big reason: you never get the chance to bring a birthday treat to school. You can picture it, right? All those October babies and March kids smugly passing out cupcakes or homemade cookies on their big day, while the summer children sadly watch the school year go by without ever hearing the class sing them happy birthday.
Thankfully, someone got smart and figured out a way to let all the little summer boys and girls have their cake and pass it out too. Enter the half-birthday.
For the record, despite being born in the seventh month of the year, I’m not one to celebrate my half-birthday. I’m also not one to go for chocolate cake (I always opt for the sterile white-cake-white-frosting option when given the choice). So I suppose it makes sense that if I’m going to act out of character by celebrating my half-birthday this year (in order to spend it with the gang here in Corsica), then I might as well go crazy and make a chocolate cake, too.
This is not your average chocolate cake, mind you. It’s dense, moist, fudge-like, decadent, rich, melt-in-your-mouth good. It’s classy and pretty on the plate. And it takes only six ingredients (one of them NOT being flour, take note all ye gluten-sensitive chocoholics). Heck, it’s so good I might even make it again for my actual birthday.
flourless chocolate cake
Adapted from The Chic Brulee
1 pound (450 grams) high-quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
9 large eggs, separated
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
A quick word on chocolate: In this recipe, quality counts, so please don’t skimp on the dark chocolate. I went with Lindt cooking (à cuisiner) chocolate, and even though I had to fork up a few euro for it, I believe it made all the difference in producing a truly dreamy cake. So splurge! I give you permission.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Let’s first get to work separating all those eggs. Nine sounds like a lot, I know, but by the end you’ll be an expert in separating yolks from whites. Place the yolks in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla. Set aside. Place the whites in another large mixing bowl and set aside. We’ll beat those just before adding them to the rest of the batter.
If you’ve got a double broiler, you’re golden. If you don’t, don’t fret. You can get MacGyver on the situation and stack a medium-sized sauce pan over a smaller one. In the small sauce pan, bring about an inch of water to bowl. Place the chocolate pieces and butter in the larger pan. Stir constantly as it melts. DO NOT take your eyes off this concoction until everything is perfectly melted, or else you will probably burn your fine, expensive Lindt chocolate.
Once the chocolate is smooth and creamy, add a small amount to the yolks mixture to temper the eggs (so that they don’t cook in the heat), then add all of the chocolate and whisk to combine.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold beaten eggs whites into the chocolate mixture until smooth and evenly combined.
Pour batter into a 9-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean but with moist crumbs clinging to it.
Let the cake stand for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. You can expect the center to fall a little, and that’s okay. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (I only had granulated on hand) to give it a touch of elegance. Then call all your gluten-free (and not gluten-free) friends over to taste your masterpiece.
Follow your heart when it comes to garnishing. I liked the pop of color lent by a couple of raspberries, but I can see a dollop of whipped cream and maybe a drizzle of chocolate syrup looking quite lovely too. However you dress it up, be sure to eat this dessert as it is intended to be eaten: slowly, luxuriously, and in the company of some sweet(toothed) friends.
Special thanks to housemate Laura for helping me make it!