Baked Sunday Mornings: Flourless Chocolate Cake

The recipe on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule this week is the Malt Ball Cake, a classic Baked three-layer cake. I love the Malt Ball Cake. I made it back in 2014 and blogged about it here. Even though the cake is terrific, I wanted to try something new, so I made the Flourless Chocolate Cake from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I brought it to the office during Passover.

The recipe is simple and the cake only requires six ingredients. You beat softened butter and sugar until pale and light; add egg yolks; mix in cooled melted dark chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger 62%) and vanilla; and fold in egg whites that have been whisked with salt to form stiff peaks. I baked the cake in a buttered 9-inch cheesecake pan with a loose bottom.
The cake puffed up significantly in the oven, rising above the rim of the pan (which was two inches high). It also developed large cracks on top, which were still visible even after the cake deflated as it cooled. It ended up sunken in the center, but the difference in height between the center and the edge was not as dramatic as I've seen with other flourless cakes, like the Chocolate-Almond Souffle Torte that I've made many times, or the Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coffee Liqueur.

This cake is supposed to be covered with a chocolate ganache glaze made from dark chocolate, heavy cream, corn syrup, and coffee liqueur. When I decided to make the cake, I was planning to include the glaze. But I made a last-minute decision to skip it after baking the cake. First, the cake didn't look like it should be glazed. It seemed like the glaze would just pool in the sunken center and also fill the large cracks on top. Second, the cake has to be completely cool before you glaze it and I ended up making this cake pretty late at night after having dinner with some family and my mom, who was visiting from California. I didn't want to stay up late just waiting for the cake to cool -- although I have spent many, many late night hours of my life just waiting for cakes to cool so that I can frost them.

I decided to garnish the cake with a liberal sprinkling of powdered sugar, which did wonders for disguising the cracks on top. The cake looked great and my co-workers raved about it. I didn't particularly care for it though. For me, the texture was not that appealing. The cake was damp and offered no resistance -- I couldn't help thinking that it seemed like a saturated sponge. I would have preferred something either fudgier or more creamy (like a mousse); it did not live up to the recipe's description of being "very dense and fudgelike." Second, the flavor was not that interesting. It was chocolate-y but very one-note and not very sweet. I can't decide if I think a ganache glaze would improve the overall flavor profile or not.

In any case, I'm still calling the cake a success since my tasters really liked it, but I don't think I'll ever make it again -- so I guess the chocolate ganache glaze will remain a mystery to me.

Recipe: "Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Glaze" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliatifo.

Previous Post: "Frosting with a Soft Touch: Malt Ball Cake," September 13, 2014.