I Love Chocolate

by Stephanie Zonis


Chocolate Souffle Cake

Chocolate Souffle Cake

12 servings


This dessert is a paradox. It's one of the most delicate cakes I've ever developed—and also one of the most intensely chocolate. Not too sweet and very rich, it should be served only to those who are devoted to dark chocolate. Please use the best chocolate you can find for this. It is absolutely necessary to serve this dessert either with lightly sweetened whipped cream, liqueur whipped cream, or a creme anglaise. You need something to cut the intensity of the chocolate. A few fresh raspberries or strawberries would go beautifully, too.

You'll need an electric stand mixer to make this, as well as an 8 inch round springform or two-piece cheesecake pan, at least 3 inches tall. Make sure the base and the sides of the pan fit together tightly, with no gaps! Note, though, that you'll probably lose a small quantity of batter during baking even with a tight fit between the two. Once you get used to the technique for this, it isn't particularly difficult, and I think it would be a great party dessert. Please note that if you are the kind who insists upon everything looking perfect, you ought to make something else. Because it is so delicate, getting a slice from the cake to the dessert plate in one piece may be a challenge.

I'm sure you could substitute another liqueur for the orange liqueur used here, but you must be careful in your choice. Although I adore black raspberry liqueur, for instance, I believe it would be too strong in the amount used here. Rum, hazelnut, or coffee liqueur would all work, but if you use dark rum or coffee liqueur, I'd probably just used a lightly sweetened whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream and 3 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar) as an accompaniment.


5 eggs, graded "large," at room temperature
6 ounces best-quality semisweet OR
   bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into thin pats
Pinch salt
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. orange liqueur
1 cup Tbsp. granulated sugar

Liqueur Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp. orange liqueur

Optional For Serving:
Additional confectioners' sugar


For Cake:
It is very important that the eggs in this recipe not be cold when they are beaten. Remove them from the refrigerator now, crack them open, and place them into the large bowl of an electric stand mixer. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to stand at room temperature. To hasten this process, fill a bowl larger than the mixer bowl with warm water (not hot water, or the eggs may cook), and place the mixer bowl into it, being careful that no water gets into the eggs. By hand, whisk the eggs lightly and occasionally while proceeding with the recipe. If the warm water in the larger bowl cools off, replace it.

Adjust rack to one-third up from oven bottom. Cut a round of parchment paper or baking pan liner to fit the bottom of an assembled, 8-inch diameter by at least 3-inch high, round, springform or two-piece cheesecake pan. Place round of paper aside. Next, you'll need parchment paper 3 inches wide and 28 inches in length, for the sides of the pan. I usually make up the 28 inches from 3 or 4 shorter pieces of parchment paper; I find it easier to remove that way. Set the pieces aside. Tear off two lengths of heavy-duty aluminum foil, each about 15 inches long, and place them, shiny sides down, in an "X" pattern on a flat surface. Place the assembled pan in the middle of the "X". Now, bring the foil up around the sides of the pan, crimping and pleating so it fits around the outsides as closely as possible. Fold any excess foil back over on itself on the outside of the pan (if there's too much excess, cut some away). The outside of the pan should be completely covered in foil, right up to the top, but there should be no foil on the inside of the pan. Place the circle of parchment paper on the pan bottom. Thoroughly butter the sides ONLY of the pan with softened, unsalted butter. Fit one piece of parchment paper onto the sides of the pan; there should be no gaps between pan and paper, and the bottom of the paper should be touching the parchment on the bottom of the pan (if there's a tiny gap here, it's OK). Continue lining the buttered sides of the pan with pieces of parchment paper, overlapping the pieces slightly (in order to get the overlapped pieces to stick, it may be helpful to butter the parchment pieces on their short ends where they overlap). If the parchment pieces come slightly above the edges of the pan, that's OK. Set prepared pan aside.

In large heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolate, butter, and salt. Pour on about half of boiling water. Allow to stand for a minute or two, then whisk until smooth. (If necessary, place bowl over simmering water on low heat--water should not touch bottom of bowl--and whisk often until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and hot water.) Add remaining hot water in three additions, whisking after each, until mixture is smooth. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Add cocoa powder, and whisk in thoroughly until most lumps are dissolved. Add flour, and whisk in until combined. Allow to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.

About 15 minutes before you're ready to proceed, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready the larger, shallower pan and enough simmering water to fill the pan to a depth of about 1 inch. Make sure the chocolate mixture has cooled to room temperature, then whisk in the liqueur, 1 tablespoon at a time (the liqueur will stiffen the chocolate mixture--OK).

Fit the electric mixer with a whisk beater, if available. Beat eggs, which should no longer be cold, at low speed to combine. Gradually increase speed to high. When eggs are very foamy, begin adding sugar gradually (I add my sugar in about 8 additions, but a couple more or less won't hurt). When all sugar has been added, stop mixer; scrape bowl sides and bottom well with a clean rubber spatula. Re-start mixer and increase speed to high again. Beat the egg and sugar mixture for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is ivory in color, greatly increased in volume, and the mixture "ribbons" back into the bowl when the beater is lifted. Note that the mixture should still flow from the beaters readily; you don't want to beat it to peaks. While egg mixture drains from beater(s), quickly add enough simmering water to larger, shallower pan to form a thin "film" on pan bottom. Place larger, shallower pan into preheated oven.quickly now. Whisk cooled chocolate mixture briskly to loosen. Add about 1/4 cup of egg mixture (no need to measure) to chocolate mixture, and whisk the two together thoroughly. Add another 1/4 cup or so of egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, and whisk in well. Scrape bottom and sides of chocolate mixture bowl with rubber spatula. Add remaining egg mixture to chocolate mixture; with large rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly fold the two together just until the batter is an even color. It will take a couple of minutes to fold the two mixtures together, but make your strokes count here, as overfolding will deflate the batter.

Pour into prepared pan, spreading top level if necessary (pan will be two-thirds to three-fourths full). Place filled pan into larger, shallower pan, then VERY CAREFULLY add enough simmering water to larger, shallower pan until water is about 1 inch deep (too much water will slow the baking time). Don't get any water into your batter! Close oven door.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, check water level in larger, shallower pan; if necessary, carefully add enough simmering water to achieve a 1 inch depth. REDUCE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 300 DEGREES F. Bake cake 17 to 20 minutes longer (total baking time is 57 to 60 minutes). During baking, cake will rise almost to top of pan. The batter will lose its "raw" look, and the center of the cake should not quiver when the pan is tapped gently; it should appear set. Gently and carefully remove pan from hot water and oven and set on cooling rack.

Working carefully, peel back and cut or tear off foil on outside of cake pan (foil on bottom of pan can stay where it is). Cool cake completely, then cover airtight. The cake MUST stand at least 6 hours after removal from oven. During cooling, the cake will fall, but it should fall evenly, and the top will be flat when it is cool. When the cake has cooled completely, before removing it from the pan, cover with a dome cover so it is not exposed to too much air.

To remove from the pan, you'll need a flat knife. Very gently insert the knife between the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. If you're using a two-piece cheesecake pan, gently push the bottom of the pan up through the sides. If using a springform, carefully release the sides. Gently peel the parchment paper from the cake sides. The finished cake will be about 1-3/4 inches tall. Do not try to remove the pan bottom from the cake! It's possible, but tricky, so just leave it on. Place on flat serving plate at least 8-1/2 inches in diameter.

The best way I have found to cut this cake is with waxed, unflavored dental floss; it is too delicate even for a very sharp knife. Use a piece of floss about 1 foot long. Hold it taut with both hands, then bring it straight down through the cake (DO NOT use a sawing motion). To remove from cake, pull the floss out by one end; don't try to bring it back up through the cut you've just made. Wipe the floss off with a barely damp cloth after each cut, then dry it. Mark out your slices before you remove any from the cake. Lightly oil the blade of a small, stiff-bladed, metal spatula with neutral-flavored vegetable oil; one at a time, run it underneath the cut slices, between the bottom of each slice and the parchment, to loosen them, then very gently transfer each slice to a dessert plate, using a fork or another spatula to help push this very moist cake onto the plate. Be sure to wipe off the blade of the metal spatula frequently. If you wish, sift a light dusting of confectioners' sugar onto the top of each piece. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, liqueur whipped cream, or creme anglaise.

Store the cake at room temperature. Don't try to cover it with foil or plastic wrap as you would a regular chocolate cake, as it is too delicate. Place a cake dome on top of it. This cake does not keep especially well, and should be eaten within two days of completion, or frozen for longer storage. If frozen, defrost, still in wrappings, in refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving.

Optional serving tip:
Sometimes, I serve this cake warm. You MUST let it cool for at least 6 hours after removal from the oven before you serve it, so, if you want to serve it warm, cut slices of the cooled cake and place on microwaveable serving plates. Microwave at 50% (medium) power just until warm (this takes me 10 to 15 seconds, but you'll have to experiment with timing).

For Liqueur Whipped Cream:
In chilled small-to-medium bowl with chilled beater(s), beat cream at high speed just to soft peak stage. Add confectioners' sugar and liquer. Beat at low speed to incorporate, then increase speed to high and beat to stiff peaks. Use immediately.


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This page created February 2000