Friday, February 8, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake: Idiot or Cloud?

K spent many years disliking chocolate. Ice cream had to be vanilla or fruit flavored and all chocolate Halloween candy ended up in my bag. At some point, and I am guessing that the Blue Bottle Double Chocolate Cookie may have been involved, that changed. Now, she eats her own Halloween Kit Kats and has become a fan of my favorite brownie from Craftsman & Wolves. Note: Marcona almonds and salted caramel do really good things for brownies. Thus, our baking projects now often include chocolate and not just in chip form. Last weekend, an invitation to a potluck gave us an opportunity to do a taste comparison between our two favorite flourless chocolate cakes.  
Cake #1 was our Christmas cake this past December: Richard Sax's Chocolate Cloud Cake, as found on Leite's Culinaria.
Christmas Cloud Cake
Cake #2: David Lebovitz's Idiot Cake, found on his blog and adapted from a cookbook I really enjoy: Ready for Dessert.
The main difference between the two cakes is the treatment of the eggs. The Sax cake calls for separating some of the eggs and whipping the whites, whereas the Lebovitz version simply adds the eggs whole. The Sax cake is taller, with a crumblier look and is meant to be covered with clouds of whipped cream.
Idiot Cake on the left, Cloud Cake on the right

Both cakes in hand, we headed to the party for a tasting. Without hesitation, every child chose the Sax cake as their favorite. When asked why, they all mentioned the whipped cream. In contrast, all of the adults preferred the Lebovitz cake, feeling that it was more "chocolatey and fudgy." Our reaction? Combine the two. So for family in town this week we combined our favorite parts of the two, plus some Valrhona pearls, because a little crunch is generally a good thing, see: Fudgie the Whale.
Baking rules: first read the recipe all the way through. Second: gather your ingredients. In this case we used the semisweet chocolate plus a few Tcho bunnies.
Scattered pearls
The baker
Note: Having made three flourless chocolate cakes in the last week, we are unlikely to make one for Valentine's Day. But, easy to make and chocolate might be a perfect holiday treat for others.
Chocolate Idiot Cake, with Whipped "Clouds"
Adapted only slightly from
One 9-inch cake

10 ounces (290 g) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
7 ounces (200 g) butter, unsalted, cut into pieces
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
For the clouds:
1/2 pint whipping cream 
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Valrhona pearls, cocoa powder or shaved chocolate (optional garnish) 

Preheat your oven to 350F.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place a parchment circle on the bottom. Dust the rest of the pan with cocoa powder. Our springform pan isn’t 100% water-tight, so we did wrap the outside with aluminum foil, all the way up to the outer rim.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave, stirring occasionally, until smooth. In our microwave this took about two minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, sitrring until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared spring form pan and cover the top of the pan snugly with a sheet of foil. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water to come about halfway up the outside of the cake pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cake is done when it feels just set, like quivering chocolate pudding. If you gently touch the center, your finger should come away clean.
Lift the cake pan from the water bath and remove the foil. Let cake cool completely on a cooling rack.
Just before serving, whip your cream, sugar and vanilla, either by hand or with a mixer and mound on top of the cake. If you'd like, garnish with cocoa powder, shaved chocolate or Valrhona pearls.


  1. What a fun experiment, and the finished cake looks great! Wow, K is looking so grown up!

    1. Thanks Heather! At this point I am less than an inch taller than K is. So much for calling her shorty.