Food + Wine

Flourless Chocolate Birthday Cake

This week I hosted my mom’s birthday dinner.  The whole family came over and we ate, drank, laughed and talked to celebrate her special day.  It’s my favorite way to celebrate anything- having all the people I love under one roof sharing a home-cooked meal.  I’ll take that over a restaurant or a party any day.  Her dinner was my Central Asian Beef and Lentil Stew over Coconut Barley except I used leg of lamb instead of the beef because 1.) My mom loves lamb and 2.) It’s just a little more special.  I also made a Cumin-Coriander Slaw to go on the side (I’ll post that recipe soon I’m sure…it was delicious!!)But the purpose of this post is to share her birthday cake recipe.

My mom eliminates processed wheat from her diet so I decided to make her a flourless chocolate cake.  And knowing that my mom loves dark chocolate paired with fruit, and also wanting to create something that paired well with the meal, I decided on a Flourless Dark Chocolate-Orange Cake with Candied Kumquats.  And I served it with cinnamon whipped cream and raw cocoa nibs.  It was amazing.  So rich and simple and decadent, and extremely flavorful.

And, because I like you so much, here’s the recipe…



First, we candy the kumquats…Thinly slice 4 kumquats and remove the seeds.  Place them in a small saucepan and add 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a simmer and gently simmer/poach for about 30 minutes.  They’re done when they become translucent and shiny.  Remove from the pan with a fork and place on a piece of wax paper to dry. (This can be done far in advance if need be.)

And reserve the poaching liquid…it’s now a kumquat simple syrup and is great in a cocktail!!


Now, it’s chocolate time…In a glass bowl situated over a medium saucepan with a little bit of water (the bottom of the bowl cannot touch the water inside the pot), place 10 ounces of dark or semi sweet chocolate, chopped (you can use semi sweet chocolate chips, or chop 10 ounces of a dark chocolate bar…whichever you’d prefer) with 1 stick of unsalted butter, (8 TB) diced.  Bring the water to a simmer and gently melt the chocolate with the butter.  (This is called a double boiler.)  Stir as needed.  You’re done when the mixture is completely smooth and glossy.  Set aside to cool slightly.

While you’re melting your chocolate, take care of the other ingredients…

Separate 6 large eggs and place the whites in a medium mixing bowl and the yolks in a large bowl.

Add 1/2 cup of light brown sugar to the bowl with the yolks and whisk until thick and creamy.  Add the zest of one orange and several fat pinches of kosher salt.  Set aside.

Whip your egg whites (using an electric mixer if you have one) until stiff peaks form.  This takes awhile, so settle into it.  Set aside.

Trace around the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan onto a sheet of parchment and cut out the circle.  Place that parchment circle into the bottom of the pan and grease the bottom (on the parchment) and sides of the pan with either cooking spray or use the wrapper from your stick of butter.  Just make sure it’s heavily greased.  Sprinkle a layer of sugar into the pan as well.

Now you’re ready to make the cake!


Using a whisk, scoop out a large bit of the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk it into the yolk mixture.  The chocolate should still be warm, and therefore you don’t want to cook the yolks…so you want to ‘temper’ them by adding just a little of the chocolate at first, before adding it all.


Add the rest of the chocolate and whisk until fully blended. Next, you’re going to fold in your whipped whites…


Take a large spatula-ful of the whites and add to the chocolate bowl.  Fold them into the chocolate by slowly stirring from the center and incorporating gradually.  You want to keep the air that you whipped into the whites, so do it slowly.

Continue until all the whites have been fully incorporated.  You’re done mixing when the mixture appears light and airy, but you shouldn’t see ribbons of white anymore.


Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan…
And bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. You want the center to not be wet and loose when you jiggle it, but it should shimmy like jello.Allow to cool in the pan on a rack until cool enough to touch.


Invert the cake onto the rack and peel off the parchment…


Then invert onto your serving plate.

Garnish with your candied kumquats.

Before serving, sprinkle with some powdered sugar if you’d like and serve with some softly whipped cream (an 8 ounce/half pint carton was the perfect amount).   I also garnished each plate with some ground cinnamon and raw cocoa nibs, which is highly recommended 😉

Happy birthday, mama.

If you want to read what I wrote for her birthday on Instagram, check it out HERE.







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