A beautifully light and melt-in-the-mouth cake, this Chocolate Soufflé Cake will make you fall in love! Pair with Chocolate Martinis and you’ve got yourself a perfect date-night dessert!
I am not one for writing Valentine’s posts but oddly enough, this recipe felt really appropriate for the occasion. Or maybe it’s more apt to say this recipe feels appropriate for date-nights, more so than most others I’ve made on the blog. There’s just something about chocolate soufflés that makes me think of candlelit dinners and romance in that air. I can’t explain it. It just feels like that kind of dessert.
But apparently there is something better than a chocolate soufflé, and that is a Chocolate Soufflé Cake!
I feel like flourless chocolate cakes like this one are an interesting subgroup of cakes. I don’t think I’ve ever made one single recipe that is the same as any of the others. There will be those little differences in texture and mouthfeel, in how dense or light the cake is. Sometimes it comes out a little mousse-like, and sometimes it’s more light, like this Chocolate Soufflé Cake.
This cake is honestly pretty amazing. It’s kind of airy, with a melt-in-mouth quality that makes it utterly divine. The mouthfeel is highlighted even more by the whipped cream topping, and I understand why it’s originally called a Chocolate Cloud Cake. This recipes is originally by Richard Sax, but I stumbled upon it on Food52, where everyone was pretty much singing praises for it. And now I see why.
Despite all the other aspects I’ve mentioned, this Chocolate Soufflé Cake doesn’t forget to be satisfyingly chocolatey. There’s a part of me that regrets making just half the original recipe in a 6-inch pan rather than a 9-inch pan, but since the concept is date-night a small cake is just right.
The great part about this Chocolate Soufflé Cake is that it kind of has two faces. Freshly baked, it’s very light. But if you refrigerate the leftovers and eat this cold, it becomes more decadent like a mousse. It’s got two kinds of melt-in-the-mouth textures. You can try and compare which version you like best, but personally I liked both versions with the luscious whipped cream. It’s a win-win.
You know, I actually debated for a bit while I was in the process of editing the video for this whether I should post this or not. You see, I messed up one of the crucial steps. I’m talking about my whipping of the egg whites, where I failed to whip the whites to medium peaks. I whipped them to the stage between soft and medium, and while they had some shape to them, they were still a little too soft for folding into the main mixture. That’s why my batter is a lot runnier than it should be. I checked back on Food52 and found that the batter should be significantly thicker.
But the thing is… I forgot that I had messed up. After eating the actual cake and making my notes on it, everything else just kind of slipped my mind. And although my perfectionist self is a little upset, I can’t argue that this Chocolate Soufflé Cake is damn good and deserves a spot on my food journal. I don’t know what the reason for this novice mistake was but it seems pointless to berate myself after the fact. At least now everyone knows that this Chocolate Soufflé Cake will still work out even if you kind of under-whip the eggs?
I decided to pair this Chocolate Soufflé Cake with some Chocolate Martinis, thinking of a date-night dessert concept for this post. What’s funny was that we didn’t even own martini glasses, yet I decided to buy a pair just to see this idea through. I just had a hunch the cake would pair well with this martini, and it did!
The martini is definitely a bit strong because of the vodka and all the other liqueurs, but it’s a dessert cocktail that will go well with probably any chocolate dessert. If you have the ingredients available, no harm in giving it a try right?
- DO NOT BUTTER YOUR PAN. You only need to place a piece of parchment at the bottom. Do not flour or grease so the soufflé cake can properly rise up in the pan.
- USE BEST QUALITY BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE FOR THIS DESSERT. The flavor of this cake will be dependent on the chocolate used so make sure to use something good. I recommend Auro Chocolate’s 72% Chocolate.
- MAKE SURE TO WHIP THE EGG WHITES TO PROPER MEDIUM PEAKS. Medium peaks are when the egg whites manage to maintain some form and shape. When you lift your beater up, the peaks should curl back a little and not be standing up stiffly. (This site offers a good visual representation.) If you read my anecdote above, you’ll know that I made a mistake with this step, under-whipping my egg whites and using them before they were fully medium peaks. The good news is, if your egg whites have been whipped to something that can hold its form (at least between soft to medium), the cake will still come out delicious, as I’ve proven. However, you will not get that really nice cracked crust because the batter is too runny. The interior of the cake will be slightly softer as well with the under-beaten egg whites. BUT IT WILL STILL BE DELICIOUS. TRUST ME. You can check out the video on the Food52 website to see the differences with my batter and theirs.
- THE SOUFFLÉ CAKE WILL COLLAPSE. This is normal among all soufflés, but for this particular cake, you do want that little crater in the middle for your whipped cream. That said…
- DO NOT SKIP THE WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING. I think the whipped cream adds to the overall experience of this cake. Do not skip it please! I promise it’ll be worth it.
Richard Sax’s Chocolate Soufflé Cake
For the cake
- 113 grams best-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 57 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 70 grams sugar, divided use
- 1 Tablespoon coffee liqueur, I used Kahlua*
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee or espresso granules*
- 2 egg whites, at room temperature
For the Whipped Cream
- 120 mL very cold heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Unsweetened cocoa powder or bittersweet chocolate shavings or cacao nibs, for topping
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C), then place a rack in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of a 6-inch** springform pan with parchment paper. Do not butter the pan and parchment, just line the bottom. Place pan into a baking tray.
- Using the double boiler method, melt the chocolate until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and add in the butter, whisking until fully mixed and smooth. In a small bowl or glass, whisk together coffee liqueur and instant coffee.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, and half the sugar just until combined. Slowly pour in the warm chocolate mixture, whisking constantly until well-combined. Whisk in the Kahlua-coffee mixture until well-combined.
- In a separate medium bowl, use a handheld mixer to beat the egg whites until foamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar and beat until glossy medium peaks form, about 5 more minutes. When the beater is lifted, the egg whites should be able to hold their shapes but the tips will curl back and not stand stiff.
- Very gently fold about a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Mix until everything is combined but do not deflate the mixture.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then smooth the top as necessary. Bake until the top is puffed and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Be careful not to over-bake this cake! Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The center of the cake will sink as it cools, forming a crater. Once cooled, run a thin knife around the cake gently, then unmold.
Make the whipped cream
- In a bowl, using a balloon whisk, whip together the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla, until whipped cream turns billowy soft. You don’t want it to become stiff.
- Spoon the whipped cream into the cake crater, swirling to give it a cloud-like look. If desired, dust the top lightly with cocoa powder, and/or top with chocolate shavings or cacao nibs. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. If you’re feeling like having a party, serve with the Chocolate Martini (recipe below).
- In the case of leftovers, store in an airtight container in the fridge. They won’t look as good as the fresh version, but they’ll still be a delicious mousse-like dessert.
Watch how it's made
**The original recipe makes an 8-inch cake with double the amount of ingredients. Adapted from Food52
- YOU DON’T NEED TO MAKE THIS DRINK IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE LIQUEURS. I realize most people probably don’t keep chocolate liqueur in their liquor cabinets. You can make a different cocktail instead or just have this cake with coffee.
- ADJUST MEASUREMENTS IF THE DRINK SEEMS TOO STRONG. You can reduce the amount of vodka and the chocolate liqueur. I would personally maintain the amount of Irish cream.
- Chocolate syrup, for dipping the rim and drizzling
- 120 mL Irish cream liqueur , (I used Bailey’s)
- 120 mL chocolate liqueur , (I used a local brand called Aldio)
- 30 to 60 mL vodka, depending on how strong you like it
- Ice cubes
- Shaved chocolate or cacao nibs, optional for serving
- Pour some chocolate syrup into a shallow plate and dip the two martini glasses in to coat the rim. Drizzle the inside with syrup as well.
- In a cocktail shaker, combine the three liqueurs. Fill with ice, then shake for about 20 seconds until thoroughly chilled. Pour into the glasses, then top with shaved chocolate or cacao nibs, if desired. Serve with the cake.
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