If ever there were a perfect food, it would be the flourless chocolate cake I made this weekend. I've made other recipes for flourless chocolate cakes, and I've certainly eaten my share of this particular dessert in restaurants and coffee shops, but this one tops them all.
For one thing, the recipe is so ridiculously simple it almost seems dishonest. We expect an elegant and dignified dessert like this one to be beyond the reach of the average cook. I found myself chuckling in the kitchen over how easy it was to throw this cake together, and in my glee I decided to make two.
This cake was featured on the cover of the September Bon Appetit, and the recipe was contributed by the Wilde Roast Cafe in Minneapolis. The magazine notes that the French name of the cake translates to English as "the Black Beast."
Made with bittersweet chocolate, the cake's dominant flavor is the chocolate, which is isolated and enhanced by the proportion of sugar to chocolate. Unquestionably, this is a dessert for people who take their chocolate straight.
Eggs, a half-dozen of them, hold the thing together and lend the cake a fudgy density. You'll want to add a generous dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for contrast.
La Bete Noire
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, diced
18 ounces buttersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Whipped cream for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a parchment round; butter the parchment. Wrap three layers of heavy-duty foil around the outside of the pan, bringing the foil to the top of the rim.
Combine 1 cup water and the sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk the sugar syrup into the chocolate; cool slightly. Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until well-blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the center of the cake no longer moves when the pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack and cool completely in the pan.
To make ganache: Bring whipping cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake still in the pan. Gently shake the pan to distribute the ganache evenly over the top of the cake.
Refrigerate cake in pan until ganache is set, about 2 hours. To serve, run a knife around the pan sides to loosen and release sides. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream. Store in refrigerator.
Makes 16 servings.