Chocolate Idiot Cake


Though I was an A student all throughout school, I’ll be the first person (of many, I’m sure) to admit that I fall quite a few IQ points below Einstein. It’s not really a personal failure, from my perspective–I like to think that much gullibility and constant wonderment, and all the silliness that begets, is part of my charm. After all, nobody likes a know-it-all.

While in most respects, I think I have a pretty good palate, I’m still fairly fresh when it comes to actually working in the kitchen. Having both grown up with a mom who is not only a food writer but a fantastic cook herself and gone to a university with famously high-quality dining halls, it was only when I moved into my first apartment in my junior year of college that I needed to learn a skill or two about feeding myself. As a result, I may be 21 years old, but in cooking years, I’m still a toddler.

That’s why I am so grateful for the recipes like that for David Lebovitz’s flourless chocolate cake, lovingly nicknamed the Chocolate Idiot Cake. Flourless chocolate cakes are, across the board, quite easy, but this one is almost embarrassing in how little previous kitchen experience it requires. It garnered its name neither because it’s for people who go stupid for chocolate nor because you’d have to be an idiot not to enjoy it (though both of those would be applicable), but because even the baking equivalent of a green thumb could pull it off.

Though there are only four ingredients, this is no low-budget dessert. Rich and moist and dense, every bite of this decadent cake is a pray from a worshipper of the cult of chocolate ganache lovers. A lot of people like to use the phrase “sinfully delicious” to describe this kind of chocolate intensity, but there’s nothing naughty about it. It’s just damn good.

Chocolate Idiot Cake
Recipe from David Lebovitz
Yields 1 9″ round cake

10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
7 ounces (1 3/4 sticks) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan* and dust it with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. If you suspect your springform pan isn’t 100% water-tight, wrap the outside with aluminum foil, making sure it goes all the way up to the outer rim.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or microwave), stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and cover the top of the pan snugly with a sheet of foil. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan, such as a roasting pan, and add enough hot water to the baking pan to come about halfway up to the outside of the cake pan.

5. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it feels just set, like quivering chocolate pudding. If you gently touch the center, your finger should come away clean.

6. Lift the cake pan from the water bath and remove the foil. Let cake cool completely on a cooling rack before serving. ** Cake can also be wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator for up to five days.

* If you don’t have a springform pan, line the bottom of a pan with parchment paper so that the cake can be easily extracted.
** Add any number of toppings or sides, if desired: strawberries, raspberries, or other fruit, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, ice cream, creme anglaise, whipped creme, etc.

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