Flourless Chocolate Cake from chef Jody Williams. (Image by Gentl and Hyers.)

We meant to save you a slice… (Image by Gentl and Hyers.)

When we heard Jody Williams was a fan of KM, we were happy to welcome her to our office for a visit. Because we’re pretty smitten, too. What’s not to love about a chef who says, “I subscribe to the ‘super normal’ philosophy of food.” Her West Village restaurant, Buvette, exudes a similar ease, featuring lick-til-clean dishes that mix rustic French and Italian cuisines.

Between admiring a Japanese can opener and a pewter punch bowl in our studio, Jody shared a few recipes from her cookbook, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food (Grand Central). First up: her flourless chocolate cake, inspired by a memorable introduction to the confection in Paris many years ago. When asked about icing, she suggested a light and not-too-sweet mascarpone topping. And there you have it: dessert in eight ingredients.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Serves 8

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for the pan
¾ pound (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
6 large eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar
Pinch coarse salt

1- Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan and set it aside.
2- Put the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a small pot of barely simmering water. Stir until completely melted. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool slightly.
3- Meanwhile, put the egg whites in a large mixing bowl, or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip, and whip until they form soft peaks. Add ¾ cup of the sugar to the egg whites and continue whisking until they’re shiny and stiff peaks are just beginning to hold. Set the egg whites aside.
4- In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ¾ cup sugar with the egg yolks until the mixture is thickened and pale yellow. Whisk in a healthy pinch of salt.
5- Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, one-third at a time, making sure each addition is completely combined before adding the next. Don’t be tempted to add the chocolate all at once – adding it in batches will help regulate the temperature of the egg yolk and keep them smooth and uniform. Carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, being as gentle and careful as possible so as not to lose any of the volume you have worked so hard to create in the egg whites.
6- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until it’s just barely firm to the touch and a paring knife comes out clean when you pierce the cake, about 40 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Note that although the cake will almost inflate and swell with air as it bakes, it will collapse and crack when it cools down. This is a good thing – beautiful even.  And serving with mascarpone never hurts…

Whipped Mascarpone with Honey & Grappa
Not so much a frosting as a cream to serve on the side, this makes a delicious accompaniment to a simple cake, like the one above. Set the mix in a chilled bowl and let your guests help themselves to as little – or as much – as they like. Plus, it takes two minutes to whip up. 

1 container (4-oz) mascarpone cheese (or sub with crème fraîche).
3 tablespoons honey (pick your favorite, I use either chestnut or thyme honey)
1 ounce grappa or liqueur, such as Amaretto or even Cognac

Mix everything together in a bowl and chill until serving time. It’s possible to over-mix mascarpone (like whip cream it will turn to butter) so be sure to just give it a few stirs and let it rest.

Excerpted from the book Buvette by Jody Williams © 2014. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.


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  1. Posted May 14, 2014 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

    Gorgeous recipe! Thank you for sharing…

  2. Chocoholic
    Posted May 19, 2014 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

    How much is "1 container mascarpone cheese"? 4 or 8 Oounces?

  3. alexredgrave
    Posted May 20, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

    Good question Chocoholic! This recipe calls for the 8-oz container, but you could also use the 4-oz size if you halve the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy!

  4. Andrew Campbell
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    So I’ve made this cake a few times now, and it needs at least 45 minutes in the oven until a knife comes out clean. Perhaps the oven should be set to 375F instead? I’ll try next time and let you know how it works.

  5. alexredgrave
    Posted August 5, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    Hmmm yes let us know and if you see it really should be hotter I'll bump up the temp.
    Thanks for the feedback!

  6. Andrew
    Posted September 2, 2014 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

    I tried the cake again last night. But I bumped the temperature up to 375. It ended up needing the same amount of time (40-50 minutes) except that the top of the cake burned a little. It still tasted fine, but it wasn't perfect.

    If you are going to edit the receipe perhaps just state that it might take up to 40-50 minutes to bake completely. I didn't smell the cake until the 30 minute mark.

  7. alexredgrave
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    Thanks Andrew! I've made those tweaks. Really appreciate it.

    Also noticed your signal flag image. We put up an article on the subject last week: http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/nautical-signal-fl

  8. T. Lois
    Posted November 12, 2014 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    What is fraiche???? Thanks. Sounds good. I wonder if xylotol would work for sugar, or agave. Sure would like some good healthy desserts witthout sugar. They say that chocolate is good for you but why does all the good stuff have to have that infernal sugar??????? Thanks much.

  9. Babs
    Posted November 13, 2014 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    because chocolate is inedible if it is unsweetened. Agave is metabolized just like sugar, as is honey. All things in moderation.

  10. Mathew Dean V.
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 8:32 PM | Permalink

    I just made it, was a fun recipe to follow. It has about 15 minuets left in the oven. I am super excited.

  11. Molly
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    Is it 4oz or 8oz for the cheese? The recipe says 4, but the comments / questions section says 8.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:11 AM | Permalink


  13. milton
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    . 200 grams quality chocolate is preferred Amadei 70 % cacao solid flavors are great but any reputable chocolate maker should do with 70 % cacao solids. the better the chocolate producer the better your chocolate cake will be and remember less is more great chocolate will have very few ingredients with a high cacao content so look for brands with only cacao, cacao butter, sugar

    when melting chocolate and butter au bain marie slower is better make sure the water does not touch your bowl else you can burn the chocolate nor should any hot water make its way into your chocolate butter mix ! when melted stir to make them homogenous before mixing with whipped yolks and egg whites

    .1.5 cups a sugar is way to much you want the chocolate flavor to dominate not the sweetness of the sugar furthermore the chocolate will already have some sugar in it ! so i prefer 100 – 125 grams of sugar max.
    ofcourse organic good quality fine cane sugar is preferred i tried palm blossom sugar once but it does give an extra flavour which the cane sugar does not.

    . 6 organic eggs and 225 grams of butter please !
    eggs should be separated no broken yolks should make it into your egg whites and your bowl should be spotless clean and fat free ! you can use the same whisk or mixer if you first whip the egg whites and secondly the yolks but not the other way around. and it takes a bit longer to get the yolks and sugar to transform into a very light colored cream keep whisking.
    the amount of butter is 225 grams cut into bits to melt with chocolate bits slowly and carefully

    . take a spring container 11 -12 inches 28 – 30 cm well greased with butter and bottom lined with baking paper also greased with butter. when pouring the batter try to do this evenly on one spot in the baking container so it flows evenly your cake will bake more even if you do get air pockets lift the form just a bit and drop it on your counter to get rid of bubbles. furthermore a round spring container like for apple pie is preferred tried a silicone rubber container once it worked… but you do not get the delicate fine crust texture your after.

    . temperature should be 325 F – 160 C exactly for 50 minutes else you will burn the chocolate ! use a thermometer if your not sure about your oven

    . pinch of fleur de sel instead of rock salt !

    . flavored mascarpone will overpower the delicate chocolate taste and texture for its dense and to fat get it to pair with a pannetone instead, creme fraiche goes much better or unsweetened whipping cream. shape a beautiful tight quenelle by rolling whipped cream or creme fraiche between two old fashioned spoons and place it next to a cut piece of chocolate cake with a light dusting of icing sugar or good quality cacao powder through a fine sif.

  14. milton
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

    two things i forgot …
    place your baking container in the middle of your oven which has been preheated to the right temperature and keep the door closed for 50 minutes and bake it on a setting for heath from top and bottem the hot air fan setting is also possible but can result in a cracked unevenly risen cake depends on your oven, however the cake is almost a souffle as a result it will drop a bit once you remove it from the oven
    you need to let the cake cool completely ! if you want to taste the full delicate flavor of your chocolate.

    bon appetite !

  15. Melody
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    @Milton, those are all very helpful (albeit ridiculously precise tweaks) to the recipe. However, I have to say that kind of perfection for and of itself lacks the potential for the much more fun and messy kind of experimentation that leads to gooey centers and arch smiles across the dinner table. Maybe I’m stuck in a Nigella Lawson fantasy-world, but that’s just my opinion. ;->

  16. milton
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

    dear Melody thanks for your remark and indeed my recipe does not leave any room for error. obviously that is not for you but hopefully for any other reader that wants to try their hand on a successful french flourless cake it will be the correct read.
    kind regards Milton

  17. Kathy
    Posted March 31, 2016 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    Just tried this yesterday and it came out beautifully! Thanks so much Milton for providing many details. I took your advice on the lower amount of sugar and the lower oven temp, which worked out well. I could not resist the mascarpone topping, with Gran Marnier and forest honey — indeed it was heavy, but delicious.

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