Decadent chocolate cake with a kick

This is for those times when you are asked to make (specifically) a cake for a work/book club/party event, and you don’t want any gluten or massively massive doses of sugar, but you still want to impress the guests. There aren’t a lot of ingredients here, it’s not too complex, and it is so so so decadent and intense that you really will be happy after even just a small bite.

This recipe is loosely based off one in Cook’s Illustrated (aka my cooking bible); however, the kinds of chocolate I like to use (a mixture of Trader Joe’s 85% and 72% dark chocolate) only come in 3.5-ounce bars. So, a recipe using 14 ounces of chocolate (vs. a full pound) was born. Plus, I suppose I feel a teeny bit less guilty saying that the recipe calls for less than a pound of chocolate. You will be sabotaging your clean eating and nicely regulated insulin levels if you eat this cake every night. Dark chocolate—even the 85% dark stuff—contains some sugar.

Good quality, good tasting chocolate makes a difference.

7 large eggs, cold
14 ounces (380 g) bittersweet chocolate, 72%–85% works great
14 tablespoons butter
¼ cup (60 mL) brewed espresso or coffee
¼ cup (40 g) coconut flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C).
  2. Line the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch spring-form pan with parchment. Grease the inside walls and the parchment with butter. Take a very large piece of aluminum foil and tightly wrap the entire outside of the pan (this is to prevent water from seeping into the pan once placed in the water bath).
  3. Using either a hand mixer or a KitchenAid stand mixer, beat the eggs until almost doubled in size, about 5–7 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, using either a double boiler or the microwave, melt the chocolate, butter, and espresso together (if using the microwave, use a glass bowl, and heat in 30-second intervals, removing and stirring after each interval).
  5. Gently fold in a few spoonfuls of the eggs into the chocolate mixture along with the coconut flour, until few streaks of egg remain. Add about ½ the remaining eggs, folding again, then adding in the rest until combined. Mix in the vanilla, chipotle powder and cayenne until incorporated throughout.
  6. Spoon batter into spring-form pan. Place this pan into a large roasting pan or Pyrex baking dish, and fill the dish halfway up the sides of the cake pan with boiling water.
  7. Bake for 18–22 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 140°F (60°C). Trust me, you don’t want to overcook this cake!
  8. Remove pan from water bath, and let sit on a rack to cool. Once it’s reached room temperature, remove the sides of the spring form pan, and invert cake onto a plate so as to remove the paper/spring-form bottom.
  9. Turn right side up onto a cake stand or platter.

Variation—If you don’t want it to have that subtle kick, ditch the cayenne and chipotle powder. Easy enough!

Ingredient Notes—I attempted this once with clarified butter. While I’d love to say that the results were great, it was kind of an oily result. The milk solids in the butter are important for the mixture, and without it (clarifying the butter removes the milk solids), it just was super oily. I did a version with half butter and half coconut oil, which turned out okay, although a bit on the oily side. If dairy is on your no-no list, you might want to skip over this recipe.