It takes very little to prompt me into celebration mode with my friends. In addition to birthday festivities, I am always ready to rejoice over creative milestones, finding new jobs and fantastic new apartments, not to mention new loves in one’s life. Whether it happened to me or to one of my friends, I’ll also happily mark the anniversaries of any of these events with an appropriate beverage, no matter how many years ago the original event was. A bottle of bubbly lends a particularly festive note to any occasion, but the more significant celebrations call for cake. Especially when we're talking about a four-layer Flourless Chocolate Cake with Rose Whipped Cream and Fresh Raspberries.
I’m salivating again just looking at this. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I made this heavenly chocolate beauty last week for my 17-year anniversary of moving to New York City. June Fourth was the very significant day in 1996 when I arrived in town with nothing but a violin, a suitcase of clothes, less than $300 in my bank account, and the invitation to crash on a friend’s couch for the summer. (Thank you forever for that, Lara!) I knew very few people and had no employment prospects lined up, but I knew that I had to stay no matter what it took. I felt I was truly HOME for the first time in my life.
New York is undeniably an amazing city, pulsing with a vibrant energy all its own. I have had creative opportunities while living here that I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined once upon a time, and I am forever grateful. But it is the amazing friends who have come into my orbit throughout these past 17 years who have truly made my life so indelibly rich. This colorful cast of characters has filled my heart with laughter and great joy, and how could I not throw a party for at least a handful of them each June 4th?
Now, back to the cake. I promise this recipe will be your new best friend in the kitchen. If any of your loved ones are gluten-free, they are going to adore you all the more when you serve this magical flourless creation to them.
Look what happens when a dozen ounces of melted chocolate meet a dozen egg yolks that have been whipped with a little sugar to a billowy pale yellow.
Now see what voluminous magic occurs when a dozen humble little egg whites meet the balloon whisk attachment of a mixer.
And when that chocolate batter is baked, look at how beautiful that flourless chocolate layer is when topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Multiply that by four.
If you feel compelled to shave a bar of bittersweet chocolate so that it falls in sweet little curls all over the top of your cake, I don’t think any of your guests would mind.
One Year Ago: Orzo Salad
Two Years Ago: Browned Butter Brownies
Three Years Ago: Chocolate-Raspberry Bars
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH ROSE-SCENTED WHIPPED CREAM AND RASPBERRIES
Adapted, barely, from a recipe by Deb Perelman on Smitten Kitchen.
Deb’s recipe uses Grand Marnier to flavor the whipped cream, but she also suggests variations with Cognac, vanilla, espresso powder or cocoa powder. I’ve flavored my whipped cream with rosewater and added the fresh raspberries, and it also works with vanilla or Chambord (black raspberry liqueur). Omit the raspberries if they are not in season.
For the cake layers:
12 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
12 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1-1/3 cup sugar, divided
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons rosewater, to taste
2 pints fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
Bittersweet chocolate curls, for garnish (optional)
To make the cake layers:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease four 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.
Melt chocolate with water in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Cool to lukewarm.
Beat yolks, 2/3-cup sugar and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale yellow and thick. (This will take about 5 minutes in a standing mixer or up to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer.) Fold in the melted chocolate until blended.
In another very large bowl, beat the egg whites with cleaned beaters until they begin to hold soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 2/3-cup sugar and beat until the whites form stiff peaks. Fold one-third of the whites into the melted chocolate mixture to lighten the batter; then fold in the remaining whites very gently but completely.
Divide the batter equally between the four prepared baking pans and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the top of the cake has puffed and is dry to the touch, switching the cakes between oven racks halfway through the baking time so that they bake evenly. Transfer pans to cooling racks and run a knife around the edges of the cake if it is stuck to the pan. The cake layers will sink a bit as they begin to cool.
Sift the cocoa powder over the cake layers and place a piece of waxed paper over two of the pans. Place a large baking sheet on top of the waxed paper and carefully invert the cake onto it, carefully peeling off the parchment paper liners. Repeat with the other two cake pans. Place the cake layers in the freezer for an hour until they are firm enough to be moved without breaking.
Make the filling:
Whip the heavy cream along with the powdered sugar and rose water with an electric mixer just until the cream holds stiff peaks.
Assemble the cake:
Place one cake layer on a platter, cocoa-side down. Spread one-fourth of the whipped cream evenly over the cake and arrange one-third of the raspberries on top. Place the next cake layer carefully on top of the filling, cocoa-side down. Continue layering until all the cake, whipped cream and berries are used up, topping the final cake layer with just whipped cream.
To garnish with chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler to grate a bar of bittersweet chocolate, which will come off in little curls. You can peel the chocolate directly over the cake, garnishing it with as many chocolate curls as you like.