Recipe of the week
A showstopper that always craters
Believe it or not, a flourless chocolate cake is “a better and purer vehicle for chocolate than chocolate itself,” says Kristen Miglore in Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake (Ten Speed Press). The cake below, created by beloved food writer and cooking instructor Richard Sax, adds a second bit of magic by transforming a simple few ingredients into a nearly unwreckable dual-phase dessert experience. The cake collapses every time—as it’s supposed to—leaving a craggy, wafer-like rim and sunken mousse-like center to be filled with whipped cream. The result, as Sax once said: “intensity, then relief, in each bite.”
Recipe of the week
Chocolate cloud cake
8 oz best-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-tbsp pieces
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp Cognac or Grand Marnier (optional)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 tbsp, optional)
For whipped cream:
1½ cups heavy cream, very cold
3 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder and/or bittersweet chocolate shavings, for topping
Heat oven to 350, with a rack in the center. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Do not butter the pan or parchment.)
Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, gently simmering water in a saucepan. Whisk occasionally to help it along. When chocolate is melted, remove bowl from heat and whisk in butter until smooth.
Separate 4 of the eggs into two small bowls. In a large bowl, whisk the 4 yolks and 2 whole eggs with ½ cup sugar until just combined. Slowly whisk in warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in Cognac and orange zest.
In a separate bowl, beat the 4 egg whites with a handheld mixer until foamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add remaining ½ cup sugar, and beat until glossy soft peaks form that hold their shape but aren’t quite stiff, about 5 minutes more. Very gently fold about a quarter of the beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining whites. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Set pan on rimmed baking sheet and bake until cake top is puffed and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly, 35 to 40 minutes. Be careful not to bake cake beyond this point. Let cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. The cake’s center will sink as it cools, forming a sort of crater—this is good!
In a large bowl, whip cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla with handheld mixer until soft, billowy peaks form. Using a spatula, fill the sunken center of the cake with whipped cream. Dust lightly with cocoa powder. Run the tip of a knife around the edge of the cake and carefully remove the pan’s rim. Serves 8 to 12.