Instant Pot

A Superior Flourless Chocolate Cake, Thanks to the Instant Pot

In this week's Set It & Forget It, cookbook author and baker extraordinaire Jessie Sheehan makes a case for pressure-cooked cakes.

February 17, 2020
Photo by JULIA GARTLAND. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG. PROP STYLIST: AMANDA WIDIS.

Welcome to Set It & Forget It, a series about all the ways we rely on our slow cookers, Instant Pots, and ovens during the colder months. Whether it’s a long braise on the stove or a quick burst in the pressure cooker, one thing’s for sure: Comfort food means comfort cooking.


A recipe for an easy-peasy flourless chocolate cake is an excellent one to have in your back pocket. You know, the kind with a short ingredient list, that calls for whole eggs (no finicky separating necessary), and is whisked together in a single bowl?

Your gluten-free pals will love you for it. And even those of us for whom gluten is our favorite food group (um, me) dig both throwing down a simple flourless chocolate cake now and again and/or consuming one.

But if you truly want to elevate your flourless chocolate cake game, I have a suggestion: Try “baking” one in your Instant Pot.

The results are—no joke—mind-blowingly good. The texture is pure magic: silky and soft, yet fudgy and dense, too. Here's why: The uniquely consistent and steamy cooking environment of the Instant Pot works wonders with a batter of eggs, chocolate, and sugar, in a manner that your oven just can’t even replicate.

I mean, look at it. Photo by JULIA GARTLAND. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG. PROP STYLIST: AMANDA WIDIS.

If cake-making in an Instant Pot gives you pause, l feel you. Though my love for the Instant Pot runs deep, and has for several years, I have only recently begun to “bake” sweets in it, as, up until now, I didn’t really see the point. I turn to my IP when I want to make something for dinner that is hands-off and quick, but that would typically take a long time if I were cooking it on the stovetop or in the oven. And due to my affection for sweets of the easy-peasy, effortless, and simple variety, when I bake, the recipes rarely require much “handsy” assembly, or long and complicated bake times, anyway.

So, in short: Why IP it?

Well, because sometimes the Instant Pot just does it better. Sorry, haters, but it’s true. I’ve made more flourless chocolate cakes in my lifetime than I can count, as I am tasked—and have been for years—with bringing at least five to a family Seder each spring. Everyone loves them and I always leave feeling like a baking rock star. But as good as that original cake is, and has always been, it's never tasted quite like it does when you make it in the Instant Pot.

This Instant Pot cake is notoriously easy to assemble. And all you have to do is, as they say, “set it and forget it." Once the allotted time is up, you can release the pressure and check the cake, and if the level of “jiggle” is not to your liking, place it right back in the cooker for a bit longer. This is kind of hard to screw it up, is what I am saying. Moreover, despite the extra 15 minutes or so of cook time that the IP requires, the resulting silky, smooth texture of an Instant Pot flourless chocolate cake is incomparable.

Finally, though it’s true that the IP’s pressurized environment won’t produce a flourless chocolate cake with crispy edges and a crinkly, brownie-like, paper-thin top (as an oven will), the gooey, custardy, pudding-like vibe of a cake “baked” in an Instant Pot will make you forget all that—and will likely have you wondering what other sweet treats might improve or transform when IP’ed.

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Bio: Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, food writer, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of The Vintage Baker (one of the Washington Post’s best cookbooks of 2018 and beloved by Oprah and Nigella) and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes, written and/or created video content for Better Homes & Garden, Rachael Ray Everyday, the Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Yankee Magazine (October 2020) Epicurious, Food52, The Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family Show, The Feed Feed, The Kitchn, TASTE, Chowhound, Yummly, Spruce Eats and Little Sous, among others.

2 Comments

rachelsaurus March 17, 2020
I assume you could make it just as easily in a stovetop pressure cooker? Would the timing change at all?
 
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Jessie S. March 17, 2020
I assume so as well! But since I have never done it, I don’t know about the timing. Do things usually take longer or shorter in a stove top one vs. an instant pot?