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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Flourless Mocha Cake

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY OPTIONAL

If you're looking for a special Valentine's Day dessert, this one is a winner. Unlike other flourless dark chocolate cakes, which tend to be dense, this one is light and airy by comparison.

This cake is also unique because it's bittersweet, not super sweet. It's just sweet enough. The entire cake contains just a quarter cup of honey, and because it easily serves 12, that breaks down to just a teaspoon of honey and one ounce of dark chocolate per serving. It's low in sugar and high in antioxidants, thanks to the cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and espresso. It contains absolutely no grains or gluten, so it's a healthy choice as far as desserts go.

This recipe calls for a cup of butter and 6 eggs, but contrary to popular belief, these aren't unhealthy ingredients when they come from animals who ate their natural diet. Compared to grain-fed animal products, those from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals have been found to contain more carotenoids (precursors to vitamin A), vitamin E, antioxidants like glutathione, and healthy fats including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a polyunsaturated fat found to protect against cancer. Find grass-fed butter and pasture-raised eggs at your local farmer's market. Trader Joe's also sells grass-fed butter.

Because this cake is not too dense and not too sweet, it won't leave you feeling sluggish. And because you'll get a slight kick from the espresso, it's the perfect way to end a special meal if you're planning after-dinner festivities. If you don't have espresso, you can substitute strong coffee or even decaf if you prefer.


I like to serve this cake slightly warm with freshly whipped unsweetened organic cream, but a home-made raspberry sauce would be just as welcome, and fresh berries would be a beautiful garnish.

12 ounces 70% dark chocolate
1 cup grass-fed butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
¼ cup honey
½ cup cocoa powder (non-alkalinized)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
6 eggs at room temperature
½ cup espresso (regular or Swiss water decaf), cooled, or substitute strong coffee

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Add a couple of inches of water to a sauce pan and warm it over medium-low heat until it is gently simmering. Place the dark chocolate in a stainless steel or glass bowl, then place the bowl on top of the sauce pan. Cover it and reduce the heat to low. Watch it carefully and as soon as the chocolate has just melted, remove it from the heat.

Add the butter to the melted chocolate. Use the papers that the butter was wrapped in to coat the inside surface of a springform baking pan. (Note: If your spring form pan tends to leak, place a sheet of parchment paper on the base before you secure the top and butter the inside.)

Add the honey, cocoa powder, sea salt, and cinnamon to the chocolate mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat until well-combined. Add the eggs and beat again until smooth. Add the espresso and beat again until it's fully incorporated and the mixture is shiny, silky, and smooth. As you mix in the ingredients, the batter should increase in volume and the texture should become lighter.

Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top. Transfer it to the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, until the center is just cooked and a wooden toothpick comes out mostly clean. Start checking after 30 minutes, as often as you have to, but do not over-bake it. Leaving this cake in the oven too long will ruin it for sure. If you're not sure if it's done or not, always err on the side of cooking it too little rather than too much.

Cool the cake until the sides of the pan are cool to the touch (the inside will still be slightly warm), about 45 minutes, or cool it completely to room temperature if you're making it ahead.


You can serve this cake as is but I think it's much better with a dollop of unsweetened freshly whipped organic cream (or a home-made raspberry sauce).

Whipping up fresh cream only takes a minute or two and it's entirely worth the effort. Chill a stainless steel bowl and your whisk or whipping attachment (if you're using an electric mixer) in the freezer ahead of time to speed the process.

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