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A&E >  Food

This simple, dark chocolate cake will win your heart

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake can easily be made gluten-free.  (Scott Suchman/for The Washington Post)
Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake can easily be made gluten-free. (Scott Suchman/for The Washington Post)
By G. Daniela Galarza Washington Post

Rich but light, this dark chocolate cake is also almost flourless – and can be made gluten-free, too. It’s a one-bowl wonder that’s been shared between bakers for more than 20 years. I stumbled upon it in 2004 when I bought “Je Veux du Chocolat!” by Trish Deseine at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The original recipe is called “Le gâteau au chocolat fondant de Nathalie” on Page 14, and a photo on Page 15 shows a rather plain, if dense, chocolate cake with a slice taken out.

Deseine’s headnote explains that it’s one of her most popular recipes and has many fans, including more than a few professional pastry chefs. There’s no indication of precisely where or when the recipe originated, but it was introduced to an American audience in August 2004 when blogger and author Molly Wizenberg wrote about it. She called it “Kate’s Winning-Hearts-and-Minds Cake.” Indeed, it’s so simple, so good and so easy to love that it will certainly win your heart.

As its original name implies, it’s a variation on a chocolate fondant, or a chocolate cake based on a mixture of chocolate and butter which, though it contains a little bit of flour, is designed to melt on your tongue.

Start by melting equal amounts of butter and chocolate together in a bowl. Whisk in some sugar, followed by the eggs, whisking well after each one. Finally, stir in a tablespoon of flour and a bit of salt. (To make this gluten-free, use a gluten-free flour blend, cornstarch or potato starch in place of the flour.) As you whisk, the batter will go from silky to gritty to thick and finally, after a few minutes of whisking, will turn glossy and shiny as satin.

After baking for about 25 minutes, the cake will emerge lightly crackled and spotted on top. Allow it to cool until it’s just warm before slicing and serving. It needs no accompaniment, but a dollop of whipped cream and smattering of raspberries offset the deep chocolate flavors and add a fresh note to each bite.

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake

Adapted from “Je Veux du Chocolat!” by Trish Deseine (Marabout, 2002).

Rich but light, this chocolate cake is incredibly easy to make. Use a good-quality dark chocolate for the best results. If you like bittersweet chocolate, use a chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa solids. If you prefer a sweeter cake, use a chocolate that’s around 60 percent cocoa. It will keep at room temperature for up to two days.

7 ounces (200 grams) dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao solids; see headnote)

14 tablespoons (200 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

1 ¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon fine salt

Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Fresh raspberries, for serving (optional)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Lightly butter an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper, and butter the paper.

In a large bowl set over a pot with a little simmering water – don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water – melt the chocolate and butter together. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave on high in 30-second bursts, stirring between.)

Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the sugar until incorporated. The mixture will look gritty.

Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking each one into the batter well before adding the next. The batter will look a little slimy; that’s OK.

Finally, whisk in the flour and salt until the batter looks thick and shiny. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and bake it for 25 to 27 minutes, or until the top is shiny and a bit crackly. It should jiggle slightly in the center.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it onto a plate and peeling the parchment off, then reverting it top side up. The cake will deflate a little as it cools; this is normal. Let cool until just warm or completely before slicing and serving with whipped cream and berries, if desired.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

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