My husband joked last week that if you walked though our house you’d find every TV turned to the weather channel and each computer screen set on the weather forecast. We have had so much snow in western Mass that one might mistake our backyard for a scene from Siberia. To counter the chaos outdoors, I’ve made countless runs to the supermarket, loading up on food so I could cook during the storms. The dense, deep dark chocolate cake featured here has been one of my projects since Valentine’s Day is so close at hand.
This classic, flourless cake calls for four primary ingredients—bittersweet chocolate, butter, sugar, and eggs. You need only to melt the chocolate and butter together, stir in the sugar, and finally add the eggs one a time before pouring the batter into a deep sided pan and baking it.To give this traditional cake a little extra embellishment for Cupid’s Day, I cut out a paper heart and centered it on the top before dusting the cake with powdered sugar. A bowl of espresso-scented whipped cream is a tempting garnish.
This cake can be prepared two days ahead and then brought to room temperature before serving and the cream whipped several hours ahead and stored in the fridge. Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone from snowy, cold New England!
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Valentine Dark Chocolate Cake
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced plus extra for buttering the baking pan
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Coffee-Scented Whipped Cream
1 tsp finely powdered instant coffee, preferably espresso
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
4 tsp confectioner’s sugar
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch straight -sided cake pan that is 2 inches deep or an 8-inch spring form pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment cut to fit and butter the parchment.
2. Place the chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl set over but not touching a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate and butter have melted and mixture is smooth.
3. Remove the top or the double boiler or the bowl from the heat (using pot holders because they will be hot). Whisk in the sugar and a pinch of salt until well blended, and then add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Pour the batter into the baking pan and smooth with a spatula.
4. Bake until the top of the cake is just firm and a tester inserted into the center comes out with a little chocolate on it, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
5. Run a small sharp knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen cake (and remove sides if using a spring form pan). Place a serving plate over the top of the pan (or cake) and invert. Remove and discard the parchment paper. Cool to room temperature. (Cake can be prepared 2 days ahead; cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with foil and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 45 minutes before serving.)
6. For the Coffee-Scented Cream, dissolve the vanilla with the coffee grounds in a small bowl and add to the cream. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue beating until firm, but not stiff. (Cream can be prepared 3 hours ahead; keep covered and refrigerated.)
7.To serve, cut out a paper heart and center it on the top of the cake, then dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar. Top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 8.
Note: I used Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate, available at most supermarkets.