Last weekend, we celebrated my grandfather’s 88th birthday. Can you imagine, being 88? And my grandparents have been married for over 60 years now. Wow.
The party was at my grandparents’ house in Long Island (we took the LIRR) and to remove the hostess burden from my grandmother, the rest of the family was in charge of bringing the food. My sister, Madeline and I were in charge of dessert. I sort of resigned myself to just eating the fruit salad because I didn’t want to “subject” all the guests to eating gluten-free. But, with my sister’s encouragement, we decided on a flourless chocolate cake (or torte) because it was a “naturally” gluten-free dessert and generally, everyone loves chocolate. I had little to do with the creation of the above deliciousness. Madeline remains the top baker in the family (although I think I’m getting better at it) and she took that responsibility and made for us a wonderful dessert.
Madeline’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from William Sonoma’s The Essentials of Baking.
1/2 cup sugar
5 oz semi-sweet; 5 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 large eggs, separated & at room temperature
1 cup of heavy or whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.The paper should also be greased.
Place the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over hot water and melt, stirring frequently. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium high speed to stiff peak stage. Do not over-beat. This can also be done by hand- but will take quite a while!
Add the egg yolks to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk to combine. Gently fold in 1/4 of the egg whites. Fold in the sugar mixture, and then fold in the rest of the egg whites, little by little, making sure that the whites are fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into the pan.
Claire’s note: I just recently learned to beat egg whites and fold them into other ingredients while making a GF tiramasu that was kind of a disaster (but the marscapone cream was delicious). Since I knew that beating egg whites and folding is an important but delicate process, I consulted youtube for a demonstration. I watched this video. It is an entire recipe, if you just want to watch the egg whites bit like I did, start it at 1 minute. I beat my egg whites by hand, and it took a while, like 5-10 minutes, so having a standing or hand mixer saves time and energy for this baking technique.
Bake until the cake is almost completely set about 30-35 minutes. The center should still jiggle a little when ready. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Cool for minutes and then remove the springform. The cake sunk in the center immediately and also sunk in a bit on the sides- not sure if this is a result of the oven, the humidity, or just inherent to the recipe. Don’t worry though, this only affects the appearance or the cake.
The cake was made a day and half before we served it. It is one of those desserts that ages nicely. When you are ready to serve, make the whipped cream. Beat the cream until stiff peaks form and immediately add the sugar and vanilla. Beat just enough to incorporate them, don’t over-beat or else it will turn to butter! Decorate with powdered sugar and fresh berries and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.