Amanda Hesser's Recipe for French (Flourless) Chocolate Cake

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Read more to find out how to make Amanda Hesser's French (Flourless) Chocolate Cake from her new cookbook: "The Essential NYT Cookbook."

Evelyn Sharpe’s French Chocolate Cake

As far as I could determine, this is the first flourless chocolate cake to appear in the Times. Earlier than you’d think, right? Like many “flourless” chocolate cakes, it does contain a smidgen of flour—a tablespoon.

1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

10 tablespoons (11⁄4 sticks) salted butter, softened

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

4 large eggs, separated

Whipped cream for garnish


1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the base of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water (or in the microwave). Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and stir in the butter, flour, and sugar.

2. Beat the yolks lightly and gradually whisk into the chocolate mixture.

3. Beat the whites in a mixer fitted with a whisk (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) until they hold a definite shape but are not dry. Fold into the chocolate mixture. (Overbeating or underbeating will ruin the cake.) The beaten egg whites should be folded smoothly, quickly, and easily into the chocolate mixture.

4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, prop open the oven door with the handle of a wooden spoon, and allow the cake to cool slightly in the oven.

5. The cake is best served warm. Garnish with whipped cream and serve in small pieces. It is rich.

Serves 10

Cooking Notes

The original recipe called for Maillard’s Eagle sweet chocolate, but I changed this to semisweet or bittersweet; I prefer the latter.

The second time I made the recipe, I had only salted butter in the house, and the cake was even better, with a hint of salinity underlining the bitterness and sweetness of the chocolate. I changed the recipe accordingly.

As an alternative to whipped cream, fold some crème fraîche into the whipped cream. This creates a cream with more heft and tang, a more formidable pairing with the intense cake.

When slicing the cake, use a knife that you’ve run under hot water (and dried).

September 7, 1969: “Handle with Care,” by Jane Hewitt. Recipe adapted from Evelyn Sharpe.


Reprinted from THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK by Amanda Hesser. Compilation copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company and Amanda Hesser.  Recipes and reprinted text copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.