Posted by: Catherine | January 22, 2009

Our #1 Favorite Chocolate Cake





This is our  all-time favorite dessert. The recipe comes from New York City’s Chanterelle, and was published as a Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake in Gourmet in the eighties–this was before flourless became all the rage.  It was given to me then, when I lived in New York, by my friend Nina, who decades later, coincidentally,  has a daughter in the same school in Los Angeles where Emma goes. I make this cake over and over, and every time someone requests the recipe, which is amazingly simple, absolutely foolproof…and fast–I promise. The cake is really rich, and at the same time light like a souffle. You don’t have to be a chocoholic (or a pig) to love it, but even those who are neither…are guaranteed to become addicted. It is–in a word–irresistible.

Note that this is a fantastic Passover cake (as well as for anyone needing a gluten-free recipe)–no flour anywhere. Emma makes a Star of David that fits inside the circumference of the cake, cuts it out, places it on top…and we sprinkle confectioners’ sugar all over; when you remove the star, there’s a perfect star shape on the cake!

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I like Scharffen Berger, but even Hershey’s works)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 T liqueur, such as triple sec, Amaretto or Kahlua (I use Kalua or a coffee liqueur)

9 large eggs, separated, the whites at room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water, and stir until smooth. Remove the bowl and let mixture cool–then stir in the liqueur. In a large bowl beat the egg yolks with the sugar until ribbons form (about 10 minutes). In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until they barely hold stiff peaks. Fold one third of the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture, fold in one third of the whites, and fold in the remaining chocolate mixture and whites in the same manner. Turn into a buttered-and-floured 10-inch springform pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until the edge has puffed (the center will not be set!). Cool, and chill, covered loosely, for at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours. I always make the cake the night before, and I take it out of the refrigerator when we sit down to begin dinner (that’s the consistency I love, but you be your own judge). I serve it with a big dollop of freshly whipped cream, usually without any confectioners’ sugar and sometimes with a bit of cocoa powder.

The Story of Scharffen Berger

John Scharfenberger founded Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker in 1996 after

selling his interest in his  epynonomous winery. The Essence of Chocolate tells

the story of the company beautifully (photos will make your mouth water),

but the recipes do not live up to their main ingredient. It’s a nice gift, though, for

anyone who loves chocolate.



  1. I made this cake this weekend when we had friends over–I was running late with it so I stuck it in the freezer as soon as it was done and by dessert time (a few hours later) the texture was perfect. My friend couldn’t stop telling me how great it was. Then my father dropped by the next day and tasted the leftovers and told me it was the best cake he’d ever had and I had to give his wife the recipe. I’d say that’s a successful cake . . . The one tip I have for someone making it for the first time is that you’re going to feel very worried that it’s not done enough when you take it out of the oven but I promise you that with refrigeration, it turns into exactly the cake you want it to be.

    • I’m so glad everyone loved it! Thanks for letting me know. As for texture…it seems everyone likes it a different way. In our house we like to let it come to room temperature and sit a bit so it’s kind of gooey.

  2. I’m going to make this for Passover dinner, can you have ice cream or whipped cream at a Passover dinner?

  3. Hi Catherine! I love your blog. Your dessert recipes have encouraged me to pick up my baking tools after almost 20 years. I was assigned to bring dessert for an Easter potluck brunch, and while I would normally buy something, I decided to try making this. You were right. It is gooey, delicious and so easy!

  4. Thanks for the recommendation! I’m definitely saving this recipe, and will make it as soon as my Toddy gets home from Ireland. (Afterall, if I make this while I’m by myself, I might eat the whole thing 🙂 )

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