Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce and Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream

I think the first time I ever made a flourless chocolate cake, I was newly out of college, feeling like an adult and planning a dinner party. I can’t remember what else I made that night, goodness, I don’t even remember who was there, but I remember the chocolate cake! I have always been an avid cookbook reader. I used to ( and sometimes still do) check out stacks of cookbooks from the public library. I’d spend hours on the couch combing the pages and copying down recipes of interest on index cards until my hands ached. The flourless chocolate cake I made for that ancient dinner party, came from one of these index cards. It contained roasted hazelnuts, lots of butter, eggs and chocolate. Um…Yeah, recipe for success, right? I remember feeling like such pro that night, like I couldn’t find better at the bakery. And that’s a pretty awesome feeling for a girl in her  early 20’s with zero formal training.

That recipe was misplaced somewhere during one of my many moves, but no worries,  my current recipe for flourless chocolate cake will not disappoint. It’s even easier to prepare, making it perfect for the novice baker. Seriously. You’d have to try pretty hard to fail at making this cake. The hardest part may be perfecting the caramel sauce. In a fraction of a second, your sugar/water mixture can go from perfect to burnt, so you really need to watch it like a hawk.  If you’re intimidated by the caramel sauce, it’s fabulous, but not necessary. You could serve this cake on its own or simply garnished with some fresh berries and whipped cream and you’ll still be a rock star!

The caramel sauce I use in this recipe comes from the website, Serious Eats, http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/09/easy-caramel-sauce-recipe.html. Written by contributor, Stella Parks, of Brave tart. She is an extremely gifted professional baker and equally gifted recipe writer. Not all that exhibit exceptional talent in cooking/baking can pass along their knowledge in a way that is easily replicated. She can. I first discovered her website when looking for a carrot cake recipe. It was the best ever! Still Is. Make it. Okay, back to caramel sauce. It’s simple, contains few ingredients and an amazing accompaniment to many desserts. There are certain recipes that do not need fiddling with, this caramel sauce is one of them. I love that she basically says, any caramel sauce recipe containing brown sugar, is a “sham”. Amen! Agreed. If you’ve never made caramel sauce from scratch, give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And finding excuses to put it on everything, trust me.

I have friends who chuckle and give an eye roll when I say, “anyone can make this, it’s soooo easy”. Knowing my propensity for the elaborate, I understand their mistrust. But, this cake, anyone can make. Like I said before, you don’t have to make all three elements, but when you do, it’s divine. The decadent, dense, not too sweet, chocolate cake is balanced by the light, slightly tart, whipped cream and the deep, nutty, caramel sauce with just a hint of salt. Also, it’s naturally gluten-free. With so many going gluten free these days, it’s inevitable that at least one of your guest is GF. This cake will please everyone and you can avoid the comment, “That’s really good…for being gluten free”, hahaha.  This recipe yields one, 10 in. cake, that can feed many. A small slice is all that’s needed for each guest. Make it… and humbly accept all the praise that follows!

Yeilds: 1, 10 in. cake (10-12 sevings)  Cook Time:  40-45 min. for cake

 

Ingredients

Cake:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, each stick cut into 8 tablespoons
  • 8 oz. quality, dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting the greased springform pan
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs (room temp.)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/09/easy-caramel-sauce-recipe.html

Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Instructions

Cake:

Preheat oven 350° and ensure that oven rack is placed in center.

Butter a 10 in., springform pan and dust bottom and sides with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, shaking out any excess. In a heavy, large saucepan, melt the butter, chocolate and  instant espresso powder over low heat, gently stirring to combine. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Next, add the eggs and vanilla to the bowl with the sugar/cocoa powder and whisk vigorously. Finally, slowly whisk the melted chocolate mixture into the cocoa powder mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake in pan, on rack. when completely cool, run a knife around the edge and remove ring. Can be prepared 1 day ahead, cooled and refrigerated.

Caramel Sauce:

Prepare caramel sauce according to instructions in above link. Can be prepared in advance.

Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream:

Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer in the freezer for a minimum of 15 minutes. Add all ingredients to chilled bowl and whisk on high-speed until medium peaks form. Take caution not to over-mix.

 

To plate:

Place a healthy amount of caramel sauce on dessert plate, add a slice of chocolate cake and a dollop of cream.

 

 

 

 

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