Thursday, April 17, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake (gluten & dairy free)

Even though butter's flavor is unmatched, sometimes when you are cooking a non-dairy meal for a holiday or you have guests with allergies, you need to omit ingredients that you usually rely on to make food taste good. I like a challenge!

I searched the Internet for flourless chocolate cake recipes and they were all pretty similar (some combo of fat, chocolate, sugar and eggs). I read in a few recipes that butter could be substituted with margarine, so I went ahead with my plan.

I'm not a huge fan of margarine and I wonder if this recipe could be made with coconut oil instead of margarine (it probably could), but I also didn't have time to experiment and figured decent unsalted margarine would work as a substitute for delicious butter. Choosing to sub out butter meant that every other ingredient had to be excellent. Actually, because this recipe has so few ingredients, it's a good idea to make sure each one is good. I chose very good chocolate (bar and cocoa powder), the eggs came from the farmers' market, and I decided to add instant espresso to boost the chocolate flavor. Espresso will do that to chocolate, but you won't taste any coffee flavor.

This dessert is a home run for chocolate lovers. It's incredibly easy to whip up, and has a delightful moist texture. I served it with whipped coconut cream and a berry salad. 

Flourless Chocolate Cake (gluten and dairy free)
Adapted from this Ina Garten recipe
Serves 12

coconut oil baking spray
12 tablespoons unsalted margarine (1.5 sticks, or you can use butter if dairy isn't an issue)
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously spray a 9-inch springform pan with baking spray (it might be wise to grease it with margarine instead). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray it again.

Melt the margarine and chocolate together in a double boiler (basically a heat-proof bowl on top of a pot of simmering water... you can also do this step in a microwave, but I prefer to do it stove top). Stir the mixture occasionally as it melts until it is smooth and glossy.
Set aside and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and espresso powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with the use of a hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and salt on high for 3-5 minutes.  The egg mixture should become pale yellow and triple in volume. Magic!
Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully fold them together. Be careful not to overmix your batter. 
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until just barely set and a toothpick comes out pretty clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Release the sides of the springform pan, and transfer the cake to a serving plate. It might look deflated and craggy, but looks don't matter here. Once the cake is fully cool, you can garnish it with gluten free powdered sugar or berries. Mine stuck a little to the side of the pan and I didn't mind. I like a rustic-looking cake.


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