Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

This is one of my go-to dinner party desserts because I almost always have the ingredients on hand: eggs, sugar, chocolate, and butter (plus a shot of flavored liqueur if it suits the mood). It’s a good dessert to make ahead so you don’t have to worry about baking and entertaining guests at the same time. A 9-inch cake will serve a large dinner group (16), or you can make 24 miniature cakes in a cupcake tin for a party or buffet.

 

Without flour, this cake is gluten-free, but nobody would guess it. The whipped egg whites add a surprising lightness to this decadent dessert, especially in lieu of leavening traditionally found in cake (baking soda, baking powder, etc.). If whipping egg whites or folding them into batter makes you nervous, this is a good cake to practice on. If the eggs aren’t whipped quite right or you totally deflate them while stirring them in, you’ll just have a fudgier cake (which no one will complain about!). The top of the cake gets a nice crust on it that usually cracks in the oven, which I think lends itself to a lovely, rustic presentation.

 

This one is filed away with my “any season” recipes, but it’s a blank canvas for seasonal garnishes: berries in late spring and summer, cherries or figs in late summer, pumpkin seed brittle or sugared cranberries in the fall, and grapefruit or candied orange peel in the winter. A dollop of freshly whipped cream is always a good way to go, too.