Flourless Chocolate Cake with Salted Bourbon Caramel

J and I are opting out of the usual flowers, fancy dinner, 
And sparkly libations this Valentine’s Day;
It’s not like the romance is dead,
Or that we gave up trying to impress each other;
But after 18 plus years together,
It’s a given that I am pretty much a sure thing.

Our focus this year is home improvements; sexy, I know.
So for Valentine’s weekend we are updating our mud room
With tile flooring, new shelving, and
A fresh coat of paint called Eiffel Tower,
(Which is really just a shade of gray with a clever name
To justify the higher price tag).

While J is in (de)construction mode,
I will be in my pastry kitchen working on my cakes,
And recipe testing, all while praying that we do not lose power, water,
Or both, as is sometimes the case with home improvement projects,
Despite J’s good intentions.

And when all is said and done, I will prepare my husband’s favorite meal. There will be chicken marsala; have you noticed that I’ve been cooking with a lot of booze lately?

And a nice salad drenched in way too much dressing, just the way he likes it;

And for dessert?  A flourless chocolate cake, and a compromise. I prefer bittersweet chocolate, the darker the better,

But J is a mellow milk chocolate kind of guy, so we will have to meet somewhere in the middle.  I found an ample supply of chocolate chips in the pantry (both semi-sweet and milk chocolate) which will work perfectly, especially because it saves me the effort of having to chop chocolate. 

This recipe contains no flour; it relies on eggs and chocolate for structure,

Plus ground almonds which provide a flour-like texture without the gluten.

There is no leavening in this simple cake recipe, instead I whip air into room temperature eggs to give the cake a lift.  It would be helpful if you have a stand mixer because it will take a little time.  A hand-held mixer would work fine, as long as you have a little patience, and don’t have to drop what you are doing every five minutes when someone yells “Mom!” like I do.

Once the eggs are doubled in volume, I add butter, one tablespoon at a time. 

The secret to the light and dreamy texture of this cake is cream from Trickling Springs Creamery.  Half of the cream is added to the chocolate so it will melt evenly; the other half is whipped along with the eggs and butter.  

I pour the batter into a an 8-inch cake pan.  Butter or spray the pan beforehand because this cake will stick. (To make this a truly gluten free dessert, do not use baking spray as this contains flour).

I also line the pan with parchment paper for double insurance that the cake will release.  I’m not a gambling kind of gal.

Any type of cake with this many eggs and no flour requires a gentle cooking in a water bath, otherwise the cake will be dry and rubbery instead of light and moist.

I place my cake pan in a large 13 x 9 inch pan and fill it half way up with hot water.  

Once the cake has baked and cooled, I chill it for a good 3-4 hours.  You can easily make this cake 2-3 days ahead of time.

Before serving, a loving sprinkle of cocoa and powdered sugar would be nice.

The salted bourbon caramel is a breeze to make.  The most difficult part of the process is knowing when the caramel is done based upon its color.  It should be an amber color, not too dark, not too light.

The bourbon gives a subtle smokiness to the caramel sauce, plus it adds that ‘manly’ component for my valentine.  

The caramel will thicken as it cools

If you have any cream left, whip it up for the topping. We are already in deep, calorically speaking.  What is a few more calories among friends?

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Salted Bourbon Caramel

  • 4 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. milk chocolate chips
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, divided, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds or almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter or spray an 8 inch cake pan and line with parchment.
  3. Place the eggs and yolks in a medium bowl and whisk.  Strain into the bowl of a stand mixer, discarding any egg solids left in the strainer.
  4. With the whisk attachment, whip the eggs until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and sugar and whip for 5 minutes. The eggs should be double in volume.
  5. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time.
  6. Place chocolate chips, salt, and 1/3 cup of cream in a medium bowl.  Heat gently in the microwave until melted.
  7. Add remaining 1/3 cup of cream to egg mixture.
  8. Add the melted chocolate and whip to combine.
  9. Add the nuts and vanilla and mix until just combined.
  10. Pour batter into pan and place in a larger pan filled half way up with hot water.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Let cake cool completely, then refrigerate.
For Caramel:
  1. Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add 1/2 cup sugar and water.  Stir. Cover and cook over medium heat for 7 minutes.
  3. Remove lid and continue to cook until mixture turns a medium caramel color.
  4. Remove from heat, add 3/4 cup cream and whisk until combined.
  5. Return to heat, whisk in baking soda and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat.  Stir in bourbon, vanilla, and salt.  Let cool.  Sauce will thicken as it cools. Refrigeration will speed up the process. 
Serves 8-10

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