Long Reads

A Nearly-Flourless Chocolate Cake for Valentine's Day (or Any Day, TBH)

February  9, 2018

If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.

Today: Orangette's Winning Hearts and Minds Cake, for anytime you'd like to win hearts and minds -- or for anytime you're tired of wintertime vegetables.

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake from Food52

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By our calculations, you've been eating greens for a solid month now. You've dutifully eaten dark, leafy greens; you've massaged your kale, an act in which both you and the kale get coaxed into January submission. Maybe you swaddled it in miso and cream when no one was looking, but you promise you still absorbed all of its nutrients anyway. 

People, it's time. You've done your part. There shall be no more sneaking into the pantry for an austere square of chocolate. We're on the brink of February, and if there's one thing we love about this month (lest you think it's the slushy, mud-stained snow drifts) it's that we get to rejoice -- unapologetically -- in fountains and fountains of chocolate. 

Kind of like this cake does.  

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake from Food52

This stunner of a cake comes from the recipe annals of Orangette, where Molly Wizenberg first caused me to aggressively drool over the idea of chocolate and butter and eggs in a perfect union. And it is just that: To make this successful, you take everything out of cake that is getting in the way. Take out (most of) the flour, the leaveners, and cast the oil aside. Get the vanilla outta there.

You're left with a cake that -- like you in February -- is gloriously unapologetic. It is what it is, and it's sticking to its guns. It doesn't hide under frosting, or compete with fruit. (You will drape it in a slip of lemony whipped cream, however, but are you really going to protest that?) It is in your face.

Melt some dark chocolate, add to that some fancy butter (more on that later), then mix in sugar and the eggs. Watch the batter turn from thin and unhomogenized to a thick, smooth, chocolate satin.

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake from Food52

As it bakes, it will gently swell, only to start a graceful fall when you take it out to cool. This is a good thing: It will settle in slowly, slouching as you do when you read a good book. Sliced, it can look a little funny -- buckled in some places but not in others, and cracked on the surface. Take a bite. Take another, drag it through uber-seasonal Meyer lemon whipped cream. Learn that you shouldn't judge a cake by its slice. 

This is only as good as its ingredients, so splurge on great butter and chocolate. With a list of ingredients only four-deep, this is the slow food of cakes, like what Alice Waters might eat when she takes a break from her vegetable garden. Quality-ingredient gospel applies here as ever. 

If you can hold off on eating the whole thing at once, this only improves with age; and, as Molly says, from a stint in the freezer. You know what that means, lovers: make this now, in time for Valentine's Day. 

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake from Food52

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream
Very lightly adapted from Orangette  

Makes one 9-inch cake 

7 ounces best-quality dark chocolate
7 ounces unsalted European-style butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Peels from 1 Meyer lemon 

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photos by Eric Moran  

This post originally ran in January 2014, and we're bringing it back because chocolate.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • gpaera
  • sbeth
  • PattyB
  • Kristy
  • Pamela Thomsen
    Pamela Thomsen
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


gpaera August 27, 2014
To Amy Bryant: I should have responded way back when but better late then... If you send me your address i will send you a photocopy of the original recipe, with the illustration.
gpaera August 27, 2014
Yes the high butter fat content is important but any quality US butter has the same fat content. What makes an European style butter is the lower water content, 15% instead of the US allowable 19% and the addition of cultures which add a slight tang (no not the breakfast drink silly).
sbeth August 27, 2014
Looks wonderful and I can't wait to make this cake!!! Would you please recommend a brand of chocolate that you like to use when baking - thank you:))
PattyB July 11, 2014
I made this for a special occasion dessert which is another way to say "I celebrate myself about every 2 weeks". A small slice nestled on a pure white plate with a small glass of ruby port made this a feast for my eyes as well as my taste buds:)
Kristy April 23, 2014
I have been making this cake for years since I first read the recipe in Molly's book. I agree that the texture does improve with freezing becoming more dense. I make a few in November to get us through the holiday season. Solid recipe and very easy.
Pamela T. February 12, 2014
I want to do a lawn party with a theme Alice in Wonderland. Any suggestions????????? all you foodies
Pamela T. February 12, 2014
o m g it is wonderful. and guiltless
C J. February 12, 2014
So how many carbs in this cake? Looks yummy!
Hopsmom February 5, 2014
Is it possible to make the whipped cream a day or two in advance and store it in an air tight container in the fridge? Will it keep?
Kenzi W. February 5, 2014
That's something I would whip right before serving, honestly. But! Here's a stabilizing trick that will help it keep a bit longer than that: http://food52.com/recipes/14500-nancy-silverton-s-whipped-cream
mariehreese January 26, 2014
where are the little white dishes with the uneven edges from?
Kenzi W. January 27, 2014
They're burlap plates from Provisions! We're out of stock now, but here's another piece from the same merchant: http://food52.com/provisions/products/285-pie-for-two-white-plate.
Pamela T. January 26, 2014
hi RaYNA I sub. Quinoa flour it is in the oven now
Pamela T. January 26, 2014
cake is I the oven yummy
rayna G. January 26, 2014
This would be perfect for Passover except for the flour. I suspect I could substitute matzoh flour and it would be fine. Can't wait to try it - but I am not waiting till next Passover!
Judy S. January 26, 2014
You can also sub the flour with half the amount of cornstarch (so 1-1/2 tsps in this case). I do it often and it should work here.
Amy B. January 26, 2014
To gpaera: I know and loved Evelyn Sharpe's Chocolate Cake, made with Maillard's Eagle Sweet Chocolate. My newspaper clipping of that recipe crumbled to dust years ago. It produced a legendary cake; modern variations just don't stand up to it. Thanx for reminding me of that particular pleasure.
gpaera January 26, 2014
The flourless chocolate cake is an enduring make which has become part of the dessert lexicon. I have seen endless variations, (death by chocolate) and claims from those who "invented" it, such as Narsi David. As a food writer and a bit of a food historia this cake back had its public origins in an article by Craig Claiborne, restaurant critic and food journalist for the NY Times. Mr. Claiborne published a recipe in the early 1970s attributing this cake to an Evelyn Sharp a woman he knew/met in the south. I treasure my yellow, dogeared and chocolate smeared clip and have made the cake at least a hundred times. BTW if the recipe does not call for Mailard's chocolate then it is not the original.
burns W. January 26, 2014
There is also a similar recipe in an old mid ~80s book The Joy of Chocolate by Judith Onley. Its been my wife's go to birthday cake for years. Here are its proportions - essentially the same deal:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 oz semisweet chocolate
6 tbs butter3.3 oz
4 eggs room temp
1/2 c brown sugar
3 tbs all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c wipping cream
3 tbs rum
confectioners sugar
vanilla extract
shavings of semisweet chocolate
Pamela T. January 26, 2014
Thanks Laura, I'm going to start with your suggestions. Have a blessed day
Laura January 26, 2014
I absolutely love this cake and have made it many times. I use salted butter and it comes out fine. It's so easy to make - I never use a double boiler, just put the flame very low and stir and watch carefully - and you can make the whole thing in your cooking pot, then just pour it into the pan!
Pamela T. January 26, 2014
almost flourless choc cake: I am going to make this today. You hit it on the head about kale and diet food through January. I am so ready for this cake. Thanks Mollie
Cinnamin January 26, 2014
Ok this is total deja vu...I was reading and testing out Evelyn Sharpe's (almost) flourless chocolate cake recipe from Amanda's NYT article and from The Wednesday Chef! But this one has Meyer lemon peel, so definitely a keeper :) Saved!