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Simple Flourless Double Chocolate Torte

This flourless double chocolate torte is pretty dang simple (basically butter, sugar, chocolate, and eggs) if you have the right equipment and some patience. Bonus: it's also gluten-free!

Ah, February. The season of Galentine’s Day and chocolate! This simple flourless double chocolate torte is a decadent and glorious way to treat yo’self this month (or any month). It’s rich, deeply chocolatey, not all that hard to make, and happens to be gluten-free! So it’s a nice addition to the repertoire for when you want something fancy to make for the gluten-less people in your life. (Crème brûlée is also a fun, decadent GF option – chocolate or otherwise).

A lot of flourless chocolate cakes can get kind of involved in terms of egg separating, folding ingredients, etc. etc. What I like about this one is that it’s super straightforward in terms of melting butter, sugar, and chocolate, adding eggs, and then popping it in the oven.

However… the reason I didn’t call this “easy” is because it does kind of require some moderately-specialty equipment and takes more time than what I would normally consider qualifying as easy.

In order to make this flourless double chocolate torte, you need:

  • parchment paper (non-negotiable)
  • a 9-inch cake pan with 3-inch sides (a springform will work with a bit of hassle)
  • a large roasting pan to set the cake pan in (this can be a challenge)

If you’ve got those items in your kitchen arsenal, you’re all set! If not, borrow them.

Why do you need that stuff? Well, the cake will 100% stick to the bottom of the pan without a parchment paper round underneath it. You also have to bake it using a bain marie method – essentially, cooking it in a hot water bath – so a cake pan with high sides is necessary. You can rig a springform pan for this, but it involves a big enough sheet of aluminum foil to cover the bottom and ensure no water leaks in through the edges. That qualifies as a bit of a hassle in my book, though using a springform can make getting the cake out of the pan easier since the sides come off. Finally, since you need to surround the cake pan with water during baking, you need a vessel large enough to fit a 9-inch round (i.e. a 9×13 pan won’t cut it).

But if you’ve got the right equipment, this torte is a breeze!

The consistency is somewhat similar to a cheesecake, just a cheesecake made entirely of chocolate, butter and eggs. Mmmmm. It’s dense as all get out, so this is a good bake for a crowd as you only need a modest slice to be deeply satisfied. And the leftovers will keep well in the fridge for several days. So you can have chocolate decadence all week!

Flourless Double Chocolate Torte

Ingredients are listed in the order they appear in the recipe and anything that requires prep is in bold. Ingredients are bolded in the directions when you first encounter themand the quantity required is included. Time estimates are bolded and italicized. I also include notes about any special equipment you’ll need.

Hassle Level Three  (3/4): equipment and time. You need the right pans for this, and then you have to wait for it to chill before glazing, then chill it again. It’s really pretty simple to make, but it’s definitely a make-ahead thing (ideally the day before) since there’s chilling time involved.

Simple Flourless Double Chocolate Torte

(adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)

Required equipment: cake pan with 3-inch sides or a springform pan and big sheet of aluminum foil, parchment paper, large roasting pan.

For the torte:

  • 8 ounces (227g) of dark chocolate, chopped (or you can use high quality chocolate chips)
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks / 12oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (can sub ½ cup of coffee and omit water instead)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼  teaspoon kosher salt (or ⅛ teaspoon table salt)

For the glaze:

  • 6 ounces (170g) dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or you can use high quality chocolate chips)
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prep work: chop the chocolate.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan and place a parchment round in the bottom of the pan. I’d recommend using actual butter to grease the pan, though cooking spray will work. If you’re using a springform pan, still grease and parchment the pan, then wrap the bottom of the pan in heavy duty aluminum foil to ensure you don’t get water leakage. (And when I say wrap, I mean create a basket/cradle for the bottom of the pan that goes up the sides – you need the long/wide sheet of foil. Simply wrapping foil around the outside won’t work).

Pour the 8 oz chopped dark chocolate (or chocolate chips) in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, add the 1½ cups butter, 1 cup (200g) sugar, ½ cup water and ½ teaspoon espresso powder (OR ½ cup of coffee if you don’t have espresso powder). Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is fully melted and the mixture begins to boil. 

Remove from heat and pour the butter mixture over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute or two, then whisk together until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

In a small or medium bowl, crack the 6 eggs and whisk together until the yolks and whites are entirely blended. Whisk in the 1 teaspoon vanilla and ¼  teaspoon kosher salt.

While whisking, slowly pour some of the hot chocolate mixture into the eggs to temper. (About a cup will do). Then, pour the tempered egg mixture into the chocolate mixture and whisk until thoroughly blended.

Place a fine mesh sieve over the top of the prepared cake pan and pour the batter through the sieve. (This isn’t strictly necessary, but it will ensure a smoother custard without any weird bits of egg detritus). Place the cake pan in a roasting pan or large baking pan. Grab a pitcher or other large water vessel and fill with warm water. Open the oven and place the roasting pan on the rack, then slowly add enough water to the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides of the cake pan (a little below where the top of the batter is inside the cake pan). 

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center is set. The batter will puff up a fair bit and the top will look baked. When you jiggle the pan, the center should still be fairly wobbly but not liquid. Think jello rather than heavy cream. Be careful not to overbake. You definitely want some jiggle in the middle to get the texture right.

When it’s done, pull both pans out of the oven and take the cake pan out of the roasting pan. Set the cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes or so. The edges will settle back down and the top will even out.

Once it’s cooled somewhat, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place whatever serving plate you want to use on top of the pan and flip the pan over to invert the cake onto the plate. Remove the pan and carefully peel the parchment paper off the top.

Pop the cake into the refrigerator for at least two hours before adding the glaze. 

For the glaze:

Place the 6 ounces (170g) chopped dark chocolate in a medium, heatproof bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat the ⅔ cup heavy cream to a boil.

Remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Allow to rest for a minute or so, then stir until smooth. Add in the 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir. 

Let the glaze cool for 10-20 minutes – you want it to thicken slightly but still be relatively pourable. Give it a stir before glazing.

I tend to just make a mess with the glaze and pour it onto the cake on the plate – letting it pool around the sides. But if you want to be fancy, you can set the chilled cake on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to catch the drips. Pour the glaze into the center of the cake, then use a small offset spatula to smooth it over the top and sides. 

Refrigerate again for an hour or more before serving. Can definitely be made a day (or even two) in advance and will keep well for several days in the fridge.

Flourless Double Chocolate Torte slice

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