My sister-in-law, Joanne, recently posted on my Facebook page that she would rather “pass over” the Passover meal and head straight for my chocolate dessert. It’s true that the Seder can be a long, drawn out affair, and particularly lengthy if the leader of the Seder insists on having everyone at the table take turns reading from the Haggadah in English and, when possible, in Hebrew. When I was a child, we used to drink a good amount of Manischewitz, lean to the left, wash our hands, and dip our karpas into salty water, but my father was one of the most considerate conductors of this ritual and, like Moses, he knew how to keep things moving and get us to the promised land: my mother’s feast.
I loved this dinner and, no wonder! My mother made everything from scratch, including the richest chicken stock for her matzo ball soup. She bought fresh ground carp and pike and whitefish for her delicate gefilte fish ovals and served the cold first course with a side of horseradish dressing. She grated the horseradish by hand and I witnessed firsthand the tears that flowed. The piece de la resistance, though, was her dessert: a sponge-like chocolate flourless cake, filled with whipped cream, powdered with cocoa and drizzled with homemade hot fudge sauce. Oh, what a sweet memory… It takes a lot of time to prepare this old fashioned feast and, today, most people are looking for delicious and reliable shortcuts. Fortunately, I know a great one for dessert. This intense chocolate cake takes very little time to prepare, does not need a frosting and, because it is flourless, is perfect for Passover. You can serve a small slice of this cake with a dollop of whipped cream and a side of fresh raspberries and everyone will think you slaved (pardon the expression) over it!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making and serving this cake:
1. Use a reliable 9×2 cake pan. I love my pan by “Doughmakers.” Make sure you prep the pan according to the recipe directions and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before flipping it over on your baking rack. Then ease the cake carefully onto your cake plate.
2. This cake should bake for 40 minutes at 300 degrees. You want the cake to be moist in the center. To be sure, insert your toothpick into the center and if it does not come out perfectly clean, be happy. This is a good sign.
3. It’s especially wonderful if you make it in the morning and serve it at room temperature later in the day. Don’t forget to sprinkle it with sifted confectioners sugar just before you bring it to the table.
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- 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60-64%), coarsely chopped
- 6 oz. unsalted softened butter, cut into pieces and 1 tablespoon softened butter for the pan
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp espresso or strong coffee
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted; extra for the pan
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lightly butter the bottom of a 9x2 inch round cake pan and line it with a round of parchment. Lightly butter the parchment and the sides of the pan and dust with cocoa powder. Tap out any excess.
- Melt the chocolate and the coffee and the butter in the microwave for 60 seconds. Stir. Then melt again for 40 seconds. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and 1 tablespoon of water. Beat on medium high speed until the mixture is very foamy, pale in color and doubled in volume, 2 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually pour in the chocolate mixture.
- Increase the speed to medium high and continue beating until well blended, about 30 seconds. Add the cocoa powder and mix on medium low just until blended, about 30 seconds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until a pick inserted in the center comes out looking a little wet. Don't overcook.
- Let pan cool in the pan on a rack for 40 minutes. If necessary gently push the edges down (with a small offset spatula) until the layer is even.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.
- Cover the cake pan with a cake rack and invert.
- Remove the pan and parchment and let the cake cool completely. Transfer carefully to a cake plate.
- This cake is best served at room temperature, the day it is made. It can be refrigerated, but do let it come to room temperature before serving. Especially nice if you dust the top with sifted powdered sugar and then serve a modest slice with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.