If a souffle and a brownie had a baby, this chocolate cloud cake would be it! It's as light and airy as a souffle, but with a crackly crust just like a brownie.
You'd die if you saw exactly how many cookbooks I have. I think I mentioned them in a previous post. There are digital ones and print ones. Big ones and small ones. Ones with pictures, ones without. SO.MANY.COOKBOOKS!!!!!
And naturally where do I turn when I want baking inspiration? Pinterest. Haha! Seriously, though, I have all these wonderful resources at my fingertips and yet I rarely use them! What the heck, right?
So I kinda made a pact with myself to get more inspiration from my cookbooks, at least once a week. And this week I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks to just "read" and that's Food52's Genius Desserts by Kristen Miglore. The pictures are stunning, sure, but I like to actually "read" cookbooks, too. Like, all the words. Not just thumb through them and drool at the pics. And I read this cookbook from cover to cover.
This recipe originated from said Genius Desserts cookbook and it really spoke to me this week. It looked simple and yet stunning at the same time. And it lived up to all expectations and then some!
What is Chocolate Cloud Cake?
Cloud cake is exactly as it sounds. It's a flourless chocolate cake that is anything but dense. There are apparently two types of flourless chocolate cakes--one is dense and truffle-like, the other is ethereal and cloud-like. They have much of the same ingredients, but it's how those ingredients are manipulated that makes them so different.
So what are those ingredients anyway? There aren't many, but they sure are significant:
- Chocolate--use a good quality chocolate for this cake, not chocolate chips.
- Butter--the original recipe calls for unsalted butter, but I almost never buy unsalted butter and I like the salty/sweet thing.
- Eggs--these are crucial, so no substitutions.
- Sugar--both in the form of granulated sugar and powdered sugar.
- Instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder--this is something I added to the cake because I love the way coffee revs up the chocolate flavor.
- Whipping cream--the "icing on the cake" so to speak. Cream is whipped to soft peaks and dolloped into the crater on top of the cake.
- Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste--whipped into the cream.
- Chocolate shavings or cocoa powder--for sprinkling on top.
The Method for Making This Cake
This cake is super simple to make, but I've made it even a little easier so you can use the microwave to melt the chocolate and butter.
Melt the chocolate, butter, and instant coffee granules in a microwave-safe bowl on half power until smooth. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool to lukewarm and then add two whole eggs, whisking after each addition. Then separate 4 eggs, putting the whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and the yolks straight into the chocolate mixer, whisking to combine. Finally, add ½ cup of the granulated sugar into the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
Whip the egg whites until frothy. Slowly pour the other ½ cup of granulated sugar into the whites and then turn the speed up to high and whip until soft peaks form that hold their shape, but aren't stiff.
Fold ¼ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture and scrape the batter into an 8 or 9-inch springform pan. Smooth the top.
Set the springform pan on a baking sheet and place it in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Bake the cake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the center is no longer jiggly. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack. The center of the cake will crack and fall and look like a big crater. This is perfectly normal!
Piling on the Freshly Whipped Cream
The crater made on the top of the cake when it falls just begs for something to fill it, and sweetened freshly whipped cream is just the thing to compliment this cake!
Whip heavy cream in a stand mixer (or if you're needing an arm workout you can do it by hand) until foamy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until soft peaks form. Pile the freshly whipped cream onto the top of the sunken cake.
To serve, shave some chocolate onto the whipped cream using a vegetable peeler (or dust with unsweetened cocoa powder). Run a knife around the edge of the cake pan and remove the sides of the pan. Cut into slices and serve!
And that, my friends, is how easy it is to make this gloriously light and ethereal chocolate cloud cake!
Chocolate Cloud Cake (Naturally Gluten Free)
- 8 or 9-inch springform pan
- 8 ounces (225 g) semi-sweet chocolate (not chocolate chips), coarsely chopped
- ½ cup (1 stick or 113 g) butter, at room temperature
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder
- 1½ cups (355 g) heavy cream, cold
- ¼ cup (31 g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- shaved semi-sweet chocolate for topping
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set aside an 8 or 9-inch round springform pan (do not grease the pan).
- Melt the chocolate, butter, and instant coffee granules in a microwave-safe bowl on half power, stirring halfway through, until smooth. All microwaves are different, so this can take anywhere from 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler.
- Let the chocolate mixture cool to barely lukewarm and then add two whole eggs, stirrring after each addition. Separate 4 eggs, placing the whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and the yolks into the chocolate mixture. Stir the yolks into the chocolate mixture, followed by ½ cup (100 g) of the granulated sugar.
- Whip the egg whites until frothy, then gradually add the remaining ½ cup (100 g) of granulated sugar and beat until glossy soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. They will hold their shape, but not stand straight up and be stiff.
- Gently fold about ¼ of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then carefully fold the remaining whites into the chocolate until no whites are seen. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
- Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake the cake until the top looks puffed and the center is no longer jiggly, about 35 to 40 minutes. Don't allow it to bake beyond this point.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wireless cooling rack. It will sink in the center as it cools, which is perfectly normal and a good thing!
WHIPPING THE CREAM
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream until foamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until soft peaks form.
- Dollop billowy soft whipped cream over the crater on top of the cake. Using a vegetable peeler, shave semi-sweet chocolate over the top.
- To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cake and then release the sides of the springform pan. Cut into wedges and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Slightly adapted from Richard Sax's recipe for Chocolate Cloud Cake in Food52's Genius Desserts by Kristen Miglore.