Hopefully you’re not too sick of chocolate after Valentine’s Day. And if you are, well, at least bookmark this for later because I’m excited to tell you about my birthday cake. I like to make my own birthday cake because it’s fun, I ensure that I get the cake I want, and I get to “clean” the batter bowl without sharing. While for past birthdays, I have gone the extra mile with towering layer cakes, fancy soufflés, and beautiful bundts, this year I wanted something simple. Perhaps it is my advancing age spurring me to laziness, but I just didn’t want to spend half my birthday on baking. However, I also wanted something decadently chocolate-laden. This cake exceeded my expectations on all accounts.
This is the easiest and quickest cake recipe I have ever encountered that doesn’t compromise one bit on flavor. It tastes like a perfect hybrid between cake and fudge with a slightly crackly exterior that gives way to a moist and deeply chocolaty interior, and then it all gets covered in ganache that cools to the texture of truffle filling. It made a nice end to a very good birthday.
The original recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour blog. I have made a few alterations, one of which is to bake it in a 9-inch round baking pan (because I don’t own an 8-inch one). If you choose to use an 8-inch pan, you will likely need to increase the baking time to about 25 minutes, as in the original recipe.
Fun Fact: I calculated some baking pan dimensions for you because I do this all the time for myself and forget to write the information down. I frequently substitute pan sizes in recipes with pan sizes that I actually own, but I like to be aware of the differences so I can adjust baking time accordingly.
8-inch diameter round pan: 50.24 sq. in.
9-inch diameter round pan: 63.59 sq. in.
8-inch square pan: 64 sq. in.
9-inch square pan: 81 sq. in.
9 x 13-inch pan: 117 sq. in.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from King Arthur Flour (blog.kingarthurflour.com)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup (8 Tablespoons, or 1 stick) butter*
¾ cup sugar
pinch of salt*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
½ cup unsweetened, Dutch process cocoa powder
*if you use unsalted butter, increase the salt to ¼ teaspoon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips OR chopped semi- or bittersweet chocolate OR a combination**
½ cup heavy cream
Chocolate covered caramels or other decorative candies, optional
**Both taste great, but it’s easier to get a smooth, picture-perfect ganache with the bar chocolate because it doesn’t have stabilizers
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan lightly with butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan, and grease the top of the paper as well.
Place the chocolate chips and butter together in a medium large, heat-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in the microwave, heating for 30-second intervals and stirring in between, until both are melted and smooth. (This step can also be done in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water.) Once the mixture is melted, stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the eggs, and stir to break up and fully incorporate. Mix in the cocoa powder, just until combined.
Pour/scrape the batter into the greased cake pan, and bake for about 18-20 minutes until the top has formed a thin crust. (Sometimes I will check on it early, and the center of the cake wobbles a somewhat as I’m pulling the rack out. You don’t want a liquid center, but you don’t want the cake totally dried out either. The original recipe says the center should be 200 degrees Fahrenheit, but I don’t have a thermometer conducive to testing a shallow cake…) Remove the cake from the oven, and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then cut around the edge of the cake to release it from the sides of the pan, and invert pan onto a cooling rack. Remove parchment, and let the cake cool completely.
Once the cake is cool, make the ganache by placing the chocolate and cream together in a heat-safe bowl. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds or so, until the cream is hot enough to melt the chocolate when you stir. If it needs additional heating time, return it to microwave for short intervals (10-15 seconds), stirring in between, until fully melted. (As with the first step of the cake batter, this can also be done in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water.) Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, and smooth it out with a knife or the back of a spoon, letting it reach the edges of the cake to run down the sides. If using, place decorative candies on top of the ganache. Let the ganache set for 2+hours, and enjoy!