You can't have enough flourless chocolate cakes

We are over a week into the new school year - 3rd grade for my little guy! After more than ten weeks of summer vacation, we were both ready for school again (okay, maybe mom more so than child).  This was the first year that I slept easy the night before school began - no nerves or nightmares!  Maybe it was a sign because so far, so good...I have a really good feeling about the year but I'll continue to keep my fingers crossed!
To kick off the school year, we like to have a little celebration dinner and I've gotten into the habit of making a "back-to-school cake" (like this one and this one).  You don't need a reason for cake but it's certainly nice to have something to celebrate so I appreciate every opportunity.  I had intended to try the Hershey's chocolate cake as our back-to-school cake this year but since that became a birthday cake for a family gathering, I looked for another idea. Forgetting that I'm supposed to be "playing with flour", I went with something sure to please (us, anyway) - flourless chocolate cake!
I've made and enjoyed many flourless chocolate cakes; this everyday version and this far more decadent one comes straight to mind but there have been many.  Much like molten chocolate cake or brownies, I feel like you can't have enough flourless chocolate cakes so here's another recipe to try.  If, like us, you love chocolate and use the kind you like to eat to make the cake, it can be a little slice of chocolate heaven.  Add some vanilla ice cream into the picture and you have a pretty great way to cap off a celebration dinner at home.

This particular flourless chocolate cake is called "Racines Cake" because the recipe comes from a restaurant in Paris by that name.  It's a recipe I've bookmarked for a long time from one of my favorite cookbooks.  With the exception of the cocoa nib topping for this cake, there's frankly not a whole lot separating this particular flourless chocolate cake from others.  So in other words, it was predictably good!  Simple as that.  It's a moist, chocolaty, smooth cake.  I think it has just the right amount of richness to it.  To make sure you end up with a fudgy, moist interior, check on the cake early so that you pull it out while it still seems just a bit wet in the center. My little cake only needed about 16-17 minutes in the oven.
You'll notice I shrank this cake down to size to make a small-family friendly 6-inch.  It's not that we can't handle a 9-inch cake of this kind but I like to make room for other desserts!  When we were vacationing in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I got a chance to check out the adorable Miette Bakery at the Ferry Building.  Known for their small cakes, I saw they had some 6" baking pans with removable bottoms for sale.  I was very tempted to buy one on the spot (I liked them because small springform pans never seem deep enough). Long story short, I ended up ordering one online after coming home and used it for this cake.  I was worried removal might not be as easy as using a springform pan but it worked very well.  I'd definitely use it in the future to make small cheesecakes or to make smaller versions of other cakes that require a springform type pan.


This cake, being flourless, relies on eggs for lift.  Egg yolks are whisked separately with a bit of sugar, then combined with a melted dark chocolate mixture.  Egg whites are also whisked to soft peaks to be folded into the batter.  You'll need to clean your whisk attachment (and bowl) if you intend to use your stand mixer for the job.  Since I was making half a recipe, I was working with just 3 eggs and was able to easily whisk the egg yolk portion by hand with a whisk. 
Once everything is folded together gently, sprinkle cocoa nibs on top.  They are part of the recipe and give the cake a bit of a unique slant but are by no means required.  I liked the dark, smokey, chocolate-coffee crunch the cocoa nibs gave the soft cake beneath it but I also enjoy flourless chocolate cake plain and it is perfectly satisfying without it.  I would mention that if you have leftovers and wrap the cake up for the next day or two, the cocoa nibs will often.  It will blend more into the flavor of the cake and you won't get the textural contrast.
Using a baking pan with a removable bottom instead of a springform pan made dusting the pan with cocoa powder a bit tricky.  I had to use the help of a spoon to hold down the bottom so that it wouldn't fall out when I tapped out the excess cocoa.  It takes a little effort but it was absolutely do-able.

As I mentioned, baking time is really important to make sure the center of the cake is moist and fudgy as opposed to too set or dry.  It should take somewhere near 25 minutes for a 9-inch cake (baked in a springform pan or one with a removable bottom like I used since this is not a cake you want to invert) but only 16-17 minutes for my 6-inch version.  The center of the cake should still seem a tad wet and the cake should not be too firm.  Let it cool completely before turning out and digging in. Vanilla ice cream, optional!  It's totally delicious even with it.
My family and I enjoyed this cake very much.  No one said it was "too sweet"


Recipe:

Racines Cake (Flourless Chocolate Cake)
Adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

- One 9-inch cake (You can divide the recipe in half to make a 6-inch cake like I did; I used a pan with a removable bottom and baked it for roughly 16-17 minutes) - 

Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting cake pan
10 ounces (280 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Pinch of salt (or use salted butter for above)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (original recipe uses 1 tbsp freshly brewed espresso)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs (optional)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, dust it with cocoa powder, and tap out the excess.

In a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of just simmering water, melt the chocolate with the butter, pinch of salt, and espresso powder.  Stir occasionally until just melted.  Remove bowl from the heat and stir in vanilla.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the sugar together on medium-speed until mixture thickens and turns light and creamy, about a minute.

In a separate or cleaned, dry bowl and using a clean, dry whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on low speed until they begin to hold their shape. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar to the whites and whip on high speed until they hold soft peaks (don't overwhip or the whites will break and it will be difficult to fold into the batter).  

Fold the beaten egg yolks into the melted chocolate, then gently fold in half the whipped egg whites.  Fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter, until just incorporated and there are no streaks in the batter. 

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, lightly smoothing out the top. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs, if using.  Bake until cake feels just barely set (the center will still look slightly wet), about 25 minutes.  Don't over bake (the cake should not feel too firm) to ensure a moist, fudgy interior.

Let cake cool completely on a wire rack.  Run a knife around the sides of the cake and release the sides of the springform pan.  Serve with vanilla ice (or whipped cream), if desired.  Cake can keep, wrapped at room temperature, for up to 2 days.  






59 comments:

  1. What a beautiful looking cake! I love that you sprinkle cocoa nibs on top :) Hope 3rd grade is going well so far!

    Sues

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  2. Aww I think it's so cute that you make a bake-to-school cake to celebrate!! This flourless cake of yours is gorgeous. And looks uber fudgy.

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    1. I just love a good excuse to make a cake and celebrate something. I'm always after fudgy.

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  3. I love that you made a back to school cake! I would have loved one of those as a kid : ) Bookmarking this one - I'm always looking for flourless recipe ideas for my sister! Plus it looks so moist and fudgy!

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    1. It's definitely moist and fudgy - just pull it out of the oven early! Back to school cake is fun : )

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  4. Aw, love the idea of a celebration dinner for back to school! I'm totally stealing that idea when I have kids. Such a great way to get them excited instead of dreading it. Although I always loved going back to school because I got to get new stuff...and I actually really loved the school I went to :)
    I completely agree that you can't have too many flourless chocolate cakes, Monica ;) I particularly love this kind of texture that's still a little soft and moist in the middle, vs the dense, fudgy ones. I'm marking it down!

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    1. Amy - I just grab any excuse to cook, bake, and eat with my family. And I definitely want an aura of happiness and celebration around school.
      I'm so glad you like flourless chocolate cakes, too. I haven't met one I didn't like yet. This one is nice and fudgy - check on it early - and it's rich but not too much at all. Just right...

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  5. I can smell them baking now!!! YUM.

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    1. I love the smell of melting chocolate and things baking, too.

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  6. The cake looks beautiful and it contains much less sugar...

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    1. haha - we've swapped chocolate and butter for the sugar today. I honestly don't want to think about dessert that way. Eat what you love and you know what they say 'everything in moderation - including, moderation'.

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  7. Pretty, pretty cake! And what a great way to kick off the new school year!

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    1. Thanks, Marie. I hope *you* got some cake for the new school year!

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  8. Oh wow, this is chocolate heaven! I have to agree with Amy. It is a great idea to make back to school fun by having a celebratory dinner. I remember dreading start of school every year when I was a child. This chocolate cake would have certainly made it fun and easier for me going back to school. Too bad my Mom didn't bake. Can I have a big glass of milk with this? ;) Have a great rest of the week Monica!

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    1. I love this kind of chocolate cake, Anne. The celebration dinner & dessert is definitely fun. I try to have a dinner my son likes and then there's cake! I'm not sure he's overly impressed but we do have a good time.
      You can definitely have milk; I'll take the ice cream!

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    2. Ice cream?! Now you're talking!!! ;) xo

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  9. Looks delicious this flourless chocolate cake...I yet have to try flourless version of cake...I love the deep color of this cake.
    Hope you are having a great week Monica :D

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    1. Thanks, Juliana. Flourless chocolate cakes are great - some are super uber rich and some are light as a feather...I love the whole spectrum. : )

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  10. It's so true that you can NEVER have too many chocolate cakes. The Hershey's version is a well-loved birthday cake for our family too! This one looks incredible.

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    1. I'm so glad you're with me on that! And great to know you've made the Hershey's cake, too! Thanks for the comment. : )

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  11. Back to school cake- this is a wonderful tradition that you started in your home. This flourless cake sounds amazing and I would like a slice of this right now. And serving with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream perfectly justifies.

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    1. Thanks so much. I started it in kindergarten when my son started "real" school. : ) I think I needed to do something with my nervous energy and now I feel like it's a bit of a tradition.

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  12. Yum looks so rich and decadent. How cute that you make back to school cakes! That's a really nice touch. Hope the kids are off to a good start.

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    1. Thanks, Tiffany. School is off to a great start, thanks!

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  13. AGREE. You are completely correct, there can never be too many flourless chocolate cakes. or brownies, and i say that b/c i've had the one flourless brownies i make on repeat here at the house for WEEKS now.
    THIRD GRADE! how exciting! i remember third grade as one of my favorite years in elementary school (or probably ever) b/c i had a great teacher and i think you start to feel a wee bit like you're not one of the young ones anymore in school. i wish your little guy the same experience i had, and i hope he's enjoying it!

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    1. Shannon - your comment made me smile. I love your take on 3rd grade, and it's so comforting to know you loved it so much. I'm sure hoping the same for my little guy. So far, his teacher is incredible - so nice, genuine, organized... I started school in the US at 3rd grade (I came from Hong Kong) so you can imagine my experience is quite different from my son's. My memories are a bit blurry actually.
      And seriously - flourless brownies! I want that! I made a batch of cocoa brownies last week in part to test them with natural instead of Dutch processed cocoa (amazing, btw). I wanted to freeze some to savor for a while but we're down to the last 2 pieces tonight for dessert (brownies with ice cream). I need more brownies (and cookies and cakes)! I hope you share it on your blog. xo

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  14. "Too sweet" is not even in my vocabulary! This looks awesome!

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    1. I like your style, Ashley!! Thank you!

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  15. What a beautiful dessert! I like the no-flour part.

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  16. Monica, what a beautiful looking cake and seriously a perfect one. I feeling like slicing and taking a bite,,oh how I wish.
    Your little one surely is a lucky guy. I love baking nut free, flourless cakes too, and yes, we never have enough of them. A great recipe.

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    1. Thanks, Asha. We polished off the little cake pretty quickly. : )

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  17. Your celebration cake looks incredibly delicious (especially that cut slice)!I am intrigued by the idea that not all flourless chocolate cakes are uber rich and heavy. I have only had flourless cake a few times in restaurants and it was definitely rich, so rich that the desert was shared. However, I am a big fan of David Lebovitz and I have some cocoa nibs looking for a home. No one is starting 3rd grade at my house but we'll find something to celebrate and I will give this a try. Thanks, Monica!

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    1. Thanks so much, Wendy! And I know exactly what you mean! Any flourless chocolate cake from a restaurant is bound to be uber rich and one slice for the table! This one is middle of the road (for me, anyway). Another recipe I use, from Martha Stewart, is even lighter and totally everyday...you might even want 2 slices! It's even easier to make than this one since you don't need to whisk 2 things with a machine.

      I'm sure you have plenty of reasons for cake and I hope it'll be a chocolate one! : )

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  18. Hi Monica. What a great idea! I will be sure to bake a back-to-school cake for Lucy when we get to that stage! This looks so rich and moist! Just delicious. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Monet! I bet Lucy will grow up to love the kitchen...and cake! : )

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  19. Oh Monica - this is calling my name! Amen - you can't have enough flourless cakes - and I adore chocolate!

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    1. I think we're on the same page, Tricia! Thank you and thank goodness for chocolate! For real!

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  20. Third grade is a good year! Hahah how can it not be when it starts with back-to-school cake? Those cocoa nibs are gorgeous sprinkled on top like that. Oh man, this looks like a big decadent fudge brownie in cake form. Craving craving craving.

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    1. Anything resembling a brownie is a good thing in my book!

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  21. Very cool to see how yours looked. :) We should pick a recipe from a cookbook we both have and try it out on our respective blogs! :D

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    1. I don't trust myself to be organized like that. I see so many recipes I want to try and there I am trying it about 2 years later.

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  22. I love the cake that is not too sweet (probably my tongue is developed in Asia). I like your flourless chocolate cake and you have back to school cake? Wow you are such a fun mom! I wish you were my mom growing up. But it's something to celebrate kids new school year and mom to get back on routine. :D

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    1. Thanks, Nami. I don't know if I can honestly call myself "fun" but kids can count on me for some chocolate any day. : )

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  23. Congrats on 3rd grade! That was such a special year for me, I have fond memories of my teacher and classmates. This cake looks great, I'd like to go back to school if it means stopping by your house for a slice! :)

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    1. I'm so glad you had a great 3rd grade year. I think this is going to be a special one for my little guy, too. : )

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  24. Oh my god, flourless cake is my favorite thing in the WORLD! What an awesome recipe, Monica! (:

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    1. I know how you feel, girl! It is one of my faves as well.

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  25. What a beautiful cake! I've never tied to make a flourless cake-but this looks like the perfect one to try!

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    1. There's just so much to try out there - I'm amazed by how many things I've never had sometimes. : ) If you like chocolate, do give a flourless chocolate cake a try. This one is a good one.

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  26. I SOOO need to try this recipe. It looks so incredibly fudgy, which is exactly the texture I want! I tried a flourless chocolate cake a few months ago, and it was drier than the Sahara. David Lebovitz's recipes have been awesome to date, so I know this will be perfect!

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    1. lol! That is too funny about the "sahara"! I can't imagine it being that bad but your oven could run hot? I always try to check on these things like 10 minutes before it's due...whatever oven I've had, I usually end up taking baked goods out earlier than the recipes say. I guess the recipes play it safe. I love flourless choc cakes...hope you try one again soon.

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  27. Gorgeous flour-less chocolate cake and I love that you made it into a 6 inch cake. That's what we usually do too :)

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    1. I love the smaller cakes - a little wishing I had a 7 inch pan though...

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  28. This looks stunning! I have wanted to make a flourless cake for months, but I'm not sure that my non-chocolate lovers faimly would eat it... and this would be dangerous to eat all by myself ((although I'd love to)) xx

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    1. Thanks - I think you must be a true chocolate lover! : ) If your family members are not chocolate lovers, I don't know if flourless chocolates cakes are for them because it is pure chocolate! You'll have to gather round some like-minded chocolate-craving folks to share it with. It's only 6 inches, after all...

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    1. You just have to watch and check on it early to make sure you remove it from the oven before it sets/dried out...wishing you'd pulled your cake or brownie out a few minutes earlier than you did is no fun!

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