A flavorful, flourless chocolate cake without all the fuss
photo by: Joe Keller/America's Test Kitchen via AP
Incredibly rich and impossibly smooth, flourless chocolate cake is elegant, refined, and universally beloved. But recipes for this intense, deeply chocolate dessert typically require complicated techniques. Our take on this indulgent cake minimizes fuss without sacrificing flavor or texture.
We began by gently melting chocolate and butter in the microwave before incorporating the remaining ingredients. In the absence of flour, we called on eggs for structure, cornstarch for body, and water for a moist, smooth texture. Vanilla and espresso powder underscored the chocolate flavor and deepened its impact.
Ensuring a crack-free surface was as easy as straining and resting the batter before tapping out bubbles that rose to the surface. Baking the cake in a low oven produced a perfectly smooth top.
This cake needs to chill for at least 6 hours, so we recommend making it the day before serving. An accurate oven thermometer is essential here. We prefer this cake made with 60 percent bittersweet chocolate; our favorite brands are Ghirardelli and Callebaut. To slice, dip a sharp knife in very hot water and wipe dry before and after each cut.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes (Plus at least 6 hours to chill)
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into 1-inch pieces
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 F. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Microwave chocolate and butter in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 4 minutes. Let chocolate mixture cool for 5 minutes.
Whisk eggs, sugar, water, cornstarch, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt in large bowl until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Whisk in chocolate mixture until smooth and slightly thickened, about 45 seconds. Strain batter through fine-mesh strainer into prepared pan, pressing against strainer with rubber spatula or back of ladle to help batter pass through. Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles; let sit on counter for 10 minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to top. Use tines of fork to gently pop any air bubbles that have risen to surface. Bake until edges are set and center jiggles slightly when cake is shaken gently, 45 to 50 minutes.
Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes; run thin knife around edge of pan to loosen cake. Let cake cool on rack until barely warm, about 30 minutes. Cover cake tightly with plastic wrap, poke small hole in top, and refrigerate until cold and firmly set, at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. Remove sides of pan and slide thin metal spatula between cake bottom and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto platter. Let cake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.