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High Country Baking: Make dad happy on Father’s Day with this flourless chocolate cake

By Vera Dawson
Special to the Daily
This cake is great decorated with glaze, pecans and raspberries, but if you're skipping the glaze, a dusting of powdered sugar and raspberry will work too.
Vera Dawson | Special to the Daily

High altitudes make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.

Want to dazzle dad on June 21? Make him this rich, fudgy one-layer chocolate cake: the perfect 2020 Father’s Day dessert. It’s as delicious and elegant as a bakery cake and often mistaken for one. But it’s so easy to prepare – one bowl and 15 minutes of active time – that kids can make it and it relies on everyday ingredients that may already be in your pantry. We all know how important that is right now.

Most recipes for flourless chocolate cakes call for high quality, European-made chocolate, which is quite expensive and often hard to find in mountain grocery stores. This one uses readily available, commercially-made chocolate chips and/or chocolate chunks and unsweetened cocoa powder with excellent and very similar results.

The optional glaze can be embellished with nuts and raspberries, like the cake in the photo, but is also lovely unadorned. If you forgo the glaze, top the cake with a shower of confectioners’ sugar and serve it with raspberries or sliced strawberries and/or a dollop of whipped cream.   

Fantastic Flourless Chocolate Cake

Works at any elevation

Make in an 8-inch shiny metal round cake pan

Cake

1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (one stick)

¾ cup granulated sugar, preferably superfine

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons espresso powder, optional

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs, room temperature

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Glaze, optional

½ cup of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Grease the pan with a baking spray that contains flour, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and grease the paper.

2. Place the cup of chocolate chips/chunks in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 8-10 pieces, add them to the bowl, and microwave at a low temperature until the butter melts and the chocolate is partially melted and in small, soft lumps. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir/whisk until the chocolate melts completely and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Add the sugar, salt, espresso (if using), and vanilla, and stir/ whisk to blend fully. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, stirring/whisking until combined after each addition. Stir in the cocoa only until it disappears into the batter. Don’t overmix.

3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, leveling it and smoothing the top. Bake until the top is set, puffs up a little (it may develop small cracks), the sides start to pull away from the pan, and the center no longer wobbles when you gently shake the pan, about 25-28 minutes. If you have an instant thermometer, insert it in the cake’s center; it should register at least 200 degrees.

4. Remove the cake to a rack to cool. After 8-10 minutes, loosen the cake by running a knife between the edges of the cake and the pan, pressing towards the pan so you don’t damage the cake. Turn the pan over onto a cardboard cake circle or a serving plate and carefully remove the pan and the parchment paper. The center of the turned-over cake should be a little soft; it will firm up as it cools. Leave the cake upside down; the bottom is now the top. Cool the cake completely.

5. Make the glaze, if using: Combine the chips/chunks and the cream in a microwave-safe bowl, place it in a microwave oven and heat it at a medium temperature until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove it from the microwave and stir until the glaze is completely blended and smooth. Pour/spoon it over the cake top and spread it, letting it drip down the sides. Let it set before cutting and serving the cake. To set the glaze quickly, place the cake in the fridge.  Store the cake, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to three days. It slices most easily when cold; dip a sharp, thin-bladed knife in hot water and dry it between cuts. Make thin slices; it’s rich. Serve at room temperature or cold.

This recipe is a variation of one published by King Arthur Flour.

Dr. Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards or Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). She’s lived in Frisco since 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.


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