Over the past week, I’ve become really frustrated about two things:
- unreliable recipes on the internet
- an inability to find critical ingredients
Despite hours of research and a thorough vetting process, the flourless chocolate cake recipe I ended up trying was a total flop. I thought about what could have happened, tried something slightly different, and it was still a flop. Surely if a prominent bakery posted their recipe online, it wouldn’t be that bad, could it?
I’m now 100% sure those recipes omitted a key ingredient.
After two obsessively careful attempts, way too many grocery store trips, and too many pounds of good chocolate wasted, I decided to move on.
I’m frustrated by a trend I’m seeing in food blogging and recipe posting: instead of taking the time to find an awesome recipe, they continue to churn out mediocre recipes masked in part by their cult following, drool-worthy pictures, and their social branding.
Ultimately, I understand why so many people turn to recipes posted online on places like the Food Network that have plenty of good reviews. However, I notice some of these recipes are taking shortcuts and ultimately, taking the mediocre path as well.
The other part of my frustration was finding ingredients. I originally planned on making an ancho chili flourless chocolate cake. Interesting. Potentially amazing. I had to try it, right?
I live in a suburb of Los Angeles with plenty of international markets including many Hispanic markets. Do you think I could find ancho chili powder? Of ALL places, wouldn’t you think I could find that here? I went to SIX markets. Six markets that sell spices I haven’t even heard about, and still, no ancho chili powder.
No wonder people don’t even attempt to make something as simple as marshmallow. Just forget about finding affordable flavoring oils. It’s not even worth it.
These frustrations led me to two conclusions:
If I ever decide to share something that’s mediocre, I’m perpetuating the problem. I understand why food bloggers post so many easy mediocre recipes. They have to get enough page views and stoke the social networking fire that keeps their brand alive.
I also wish ingredients were more readily available at affordable prices. I’m tired of running around trying to find things. I’d like to assist you in tracking these ingredients down, so wherever possible, I’ll mention the best place to find them.
No more wasted food from crappy recipes.
No more futile grocery store trips.
Just awesome, reliable recipes.
Simply Delicious Flourless Chocolate Cake
- 4.2 oz good quality 64% to 72% chocolate (I recommend Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% Belgium chocolate or Valrhona Guanaja 70%.This recipe depends heavily on a great tasting chocolate. You can’t put lipstick on a pig!)
- 4.8 oz unsalted butter
- 6.4 oz egg whites, fresh
- 1.6 oz sugar
- 4 oz egg yolk
- 3.2 oz sugar
- 4.2 oz almond flour or almond meal, sifted (I recommend Trader Joe’s Just Almond Meal)
- 1 ea whole vanilla bean (recommend Sprouts Organic Whole Vanilla Beans)
- Optional: 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Prepare all of your ingredients and set aside.
The recipe is set up to go step by step so your melted chocolate doesn’t get too cold or your whipped egg whites don’t sit too long before being folded in.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally to help it melt faster. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. Prepare a 9″ cake pan by spraying with pan spray, lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper, then spraying again. In culinary school and restaurant industry, this is called this “spray, paper, spray”. It ensures the cake will release from the pan with a smooth finish.
5. Whip egg whites and 1.6 oz sugar to medium peak and set aside in a large bowl. If you over whip the egg whites, you won’t be able to easily fold in the remaining ingredients.
6. Rinse out the mixing bowl, dry, and add egg yolk and remaining sugar. Whip to medium peak.
7. Meanwhile, sift the almond flour into the bowl of whipped egg whites. You’ll fold this in later.
8. Once the egg yolks are whipped to a medium peak, stop the mixer. Add ~1 cup of whipped yolks to the melted chocolate and mix well.
This step is called a sacrifice – you want to lighten this mixture so that you can easily fold this into the remaining ingredients. Don’t worry about deflating the whipped yolks.
9. Lightly fold the lightened chocolate with the remaining whipped egg yolks until mixed well. Be careful you don’t over mix or deflate the egg yolks too much.
10. Add the mixture to the whipped egg whites and sifted almond flour. Lightly fold but stop as soon as it’s mixed well. Immediately pour into your prepared cake pan.
You want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. Your only leavening agents are the air in your batter and evaporation from the water in the eggs.
11. Bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out dry, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool at room temperature. Once it’s cooled, wrap with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Serve cool or at room temperature.