This recipe is amazing. It actually hides a secret chemical interaction that transforms me into... The Best Roommate Ever!(tm) And now, you too can experience The Power of the Torte.

Flourless cakes are generally denser and more flavorful than their fluffy high-rising counterparts. This cake cuts right to the chase: it's just chocolate, butter, eggs, and sugar. I've made a similar recipe without the sugar which also turned out very well. Basically, we're distilling and concentrating chocolate.

The equipment:

  • A small cake pan
    (A round eight-inch pan is good, but I've used nine-inch square pans as well as a star-shaped cake pan of roughly the same width. As long as the batter fits into the pan and fills it up a little, you'll be fine.)
  • A large cookie sheet or baking pan
    (It has to have sides, and it has to be wide enough that your cake pan fits in it. It will hold the water that makes the cake more moist and intense as it bakes.)

    The ingredients: (Non-U.S.-centric measurements are coming!)

  • 3/4 cup of butter
    (six ounces. With my box of organic butter, that equals a stick and a half; your mileage may vary.)
  • 7 ounces of chopped chocolate
    (I now know this is about 200 grams, thanks to Zerotime! The secret is to use chocolate chips, rather than hand-chopping all of that.)
  • Four eggs
    (free-range, not just cage-free. Did you know that the size of a factory-farmed chicken's cage is eight inches by nine inches?)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
    (Or fructose, or whatever granulated sweetner your little heart desires)
  • Spices: For a variation on the basic recipe, anthropod recommends adding cinnamon, vanilla, and a pinch of hot pepper.

    A few words about ingredients

    I know, I keep saying "organic" in odd places. This cake has many of the ingredients that have been taken over by agribusiness and turned bad. Dairy and eggs, for example; with organic eggs and free-range butter (er...) you can be relatively sure that the animals were treated well and that the ingredients are not full of hormones and antibiotics; otherwise you can be fairly sure that the animals weren't, and your ingredients are.

    Sugar is of course one of the more dangerous of foods. One gram of it will depress your immune system by 50% for five hours (according to a friend of mine who is a certified nutritionist), and many an economy has been destroyed by imperialism via the sugar trade. Plus, in the United States, it's not, stricly speaking, vegetarian: here, sugar is refined using bones and other animal by-products. You can find crystallized fructose in many health-food stores (and yuppie grocery stores), and use it the same way; in large quantities it comes with a slighty fruity flavor that can be nice.

    And of course there's the chocolate. By and large, chocolate is good. It is the food of the gods. It is nummy. However (here it comes....) a lot of major chocolate manufacturers get their beans from plantations that use child labor and slavery. You can avoid this, though, by Googling for fair trade chocolate, looking for the fair trade icon on your chocolate, or, you know, not buying Hershey's and Nestle and other corporate giants. There are many sites that offer handy guides to this issue; see below.

    Now that I've whetted your appetite....

    The Cooking

    Before we go any further, do what I always forget to do: preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 163 degrees Celsius). While you're at it, I've never had any problem with cakes and muffins and cookies sticking to the pan, but if you're concerned, you might want to check out how to keep a cake from sticking to the pan.

    The original recipes I've used for this cake demand stirring the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over low heat, or melting them in a double boiler. So I present to you our second shortcut: After pouring out the oh-so-easy chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl, drop your butter in with them and heat for 45 seconds. (Mine is a 700 watt microwave; your mileage may vary.) Stir them together and see how melted they are; repeat as necessary. They won't melt on their own in there, but they should blend together pretty quickly once stirred.

    (anthropod says, "Mmm...I have a similar recipe, but I have to say it's best with unsalted butter and a bit of vanilla. I use very good quality bittersweet chocolate and melt it with the butter, then cool slightly, so I don't have to use chocolate chips. Because OF COURSE I don't have a scary microwave, and given your organic tone, I'm surprised you do. ;-) And I sometimes make mine in individual ramekins, which is rather exciting, a whole chocolate dessert all to yourself.")

    Pour the chocolate and butter mixture into your pan, and break four eggs into the bowl you were using. Whisk them together, tapping the yolks with your fork or whisk to break them. (Oh, the tricks we learn from cooking shows.)

    I went through a little phase where I thought beating the eggs too much would make the cake tough. Clearly, my delusions of four-star chefdom were exceeding my actual culinary abilities. What I learned from this, several cakes later, was that overbeating may or may not have an effect, but underbeating means that the cake has little chewy bits of omelette in it. Saints preserve us. Beat those eggs mercilessly until they're smooth and a uniformly creamy yellow.

    Pour your beaten eggs into the batter and mix them in thoroughly. Shake out the sugar and whisk that in. You might also add a little vanilla; I used organic alcohol-free vanilla, but as long as it's not artificial, it doesn't matter very much what you use. The recipes I use also recommend adding a tablespoon of instant coffee, but as I don't drink coffee, this is generally more trouble than it's worth to me. It tastes fantastic either way.

    I'm no Rachael Ray; at this point I've spilled sugar into the underlying cake pan, gotten chocolate everywhere, read and upvoted several nodes when I should have been stirring, and picked little bits of shell out of the batter. Now there's chocolate on the keyboard (what do I mean, "now"?) and my chin and the back of my neck, but the batter is smooth and tasty. It's time to prepare it for the oven.

    Usually I avoid recipes that require food be placed in a water bath, whether it's going in a double boiler or a swimming pool. It just sounds too messy and complicated. And my old chocolate torte recipe, which I can no longer find, didn't require any such thing of me and only took half an hour to cook. Unfortunately, we live in desperate times, at least when I'm cooking. So, water goes in the baking pan, (and all over the table, and on my shoe), halfway up the sides of the cake pan (or as nearly so as possible). And into the oven it goes for an hour and a half.

    Remove and let cool. You can sift powdered sugar or cocoa over it if you like; this is especially impressive if you do it through a doily and make snowflake patterns. A thin chocolate glaze or raspberry coulis is also tasty-licious on this. It is very good eaten warm, although (gods help me) the recipe says to refrigerate it overnight, covered in foil. I don't know about you, but I need my fix now. Enjoy!


  • Global Exchange's guide to the issues and products involved in fair trade chocolate:
  • An article about a British grocery chain that committed to using fair trade chocolate:
  • Fair trade certified chocolate:
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