I’ve been meaning to make this French chocolate cake recipe – a naturally gluten-free cake, I might add – for eight years now. About the length of time I’ve been blogging. I’m not sure why I haven’t yet. Maybe because there are so many fun French recipes and this one got lost in the shuffle. In any case, I’ve been serving it on a regular basis, ever since my mother-in-law gave me a photocopy of the recipe card from her French Elle magazine. The recipe is attributed to Madeline Peter.
Chocolate cake. Can’t go wrong here, right?
Here’s what you need, more or less. Missing is the confectioner sugar and an extra 25 grams of dark chocolate, but it’s all simple, fresh ingredients.
Before you start, you should pre-heat the oven to 200-220° C (6 and 7 range) or 400-425°F. The oven needs to be hot and the time it takes you to make the cake is enough time for it to be at the right temperature.
You also need to set the butter out so it’s very soft, but not melted. The whole recipe calls for 250 grams of butter, but you’re supposed to save 50 for the frosting (glaçage). That can be tough to remember in France since butter is sold in 250g, and I’ve dumped the whole thing in the cake part before, then had to add more for the frosting and it was just too much. I’ve put a butter conversion in the printout.
Finally, get a deep-sided quiche pan (24 cm) and butter it well. Cut out parchment paper and put it on the bottom of the pan, then butter that as well. Finally, sprinkle sugar on it so it coats the entire bottom and sides. Like so (sugar coating not shown here).
You need six eggs with the yolks separated, but you only need three of the six egg whites. So this is what I do (so I don’t forget). I get out three containers and put the yolks in a big bowl, the 3 whites in a smaller bowl, and the remaining three directly in a Tupperware.
I usually mix the three whites first so I don’t have to wash the beaters. You probably know this, but if any yolk gets into the whites they won’t beat into stiff peaks. Salt helps them to form those peaks so I put several dashes of sea salt into the whites since there’s no other salt in the cake.
When that’s done, combine the 6 yolks with 1 1/8 cups of sugar (I’ll put the grams in the printout). You have to beat that together until they start to turn white and “fassent le ruban“. Until it leaves ribbons in its wake. It sort of looks like this.
Meanwhile, you want to melt chocolate. 250 grams of baking chocolate, which for me means Lindt 60%. You can use a double broiler, but I usually microwave it for 1 minute, give it a stir, then add another 15 seconds or so if there are still lumps. Pour it into the yolk / sugar and mix immediately to even out the temperature.
Don’t, for heaven’s sake, do what I did and stop to take a photo.
Your mixture will be very thick, but you still need to add the ground almonds (1 cup or 100 grams), the 3 tablespoons of corn starch, the 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and the teaspoon of vanilla, which I didn’t have so I left it out. If you’re making this for someone who is intolerant to gluten, don’t forget to check that your baking powder is gluten-free. Many commercial brands in the States are these days. Now it’s super stiff and hard to beat – like this.
Then it’s time to fold in the egg whites. Put your mixer aside. You’re going to use a spatula.
You’re not supposed to break the egg whites, and when I first made this I was so hesitant to over-mix I actually left streaks of egg white in the batter. Don’t do that. Mix thoroughly so you don’t see any more white.
It looks like this.
Pour it into the pan.
Slip it into the oven for 25-30 minutes. You need to know your oven. I chose the lower temperature of the two and set the timer for 17 minutes to turn the cake so it would bake evenly. And I cooked it for 25 minutes, not 30.
You should still have some batter clinging to the knife when you take it out. Like so.
Let it cool in the pan for a half-hour or so, then take a large plate (platter) and put it on top of the quiche pan. Holding the plate and pan together, flip it upside down so the cake settles on the plate. With the butter, parchment paper, and sugar, it really shouldn’t be a problem to flip the cake. Remove the parchment paper, obvs.
Time for the glaçage! (Pronounced glah-sahje). Truthfully, you don’t really need it. It’s sweet and tasty enough. But it make the cake beautiful and gives it an even fudgier taste and texture.
Melt the remaining 50 grams of butter and 125 grams of dark chocolate . They call it “à croquer” – which means, good enough to munch on. I use Lindt as well. Usually the 52% because that’s what we eat, but I think the 70% might be a better choice.
Once again, I put the butter and chocolate in the microwave for a minute. (Cover it in case the butter explodes). That’s usually enough. I add 2/3 cup of confectioner sugar a couple spoons at a time, and though the recipe doesn’t call for it, I add a tablespoon or two of milk so I can stir it. Otherwise it won’t spread easily.
Then spread it on the top and sides while the frosting is still warm. You can put it in the refrigerator before you serve to help it get a firm and smooth surface, but take it out a half-hour before you serve.
I am a chocolate fiend – I love it – but this is so rich I can’t eat a full piece if it’s cut too large. So keep the slices small. Trust me on this. This is the only thing I’ve ever made where one piece is more than enough.
And there you have it. A French, naturally gluten-free cake that’s pretty much like what you’d find in any bakery.
Except maybe better.
- 250 grams soft butter, split 200 for cake, then 50 for topping
- (or 1¾ stick / 14 tablespoons butter for cake, then 3½ tablespoon butter for topping)
- 6 eggs, split, using 6 yolks and only 3 whites
- a few dashes of salt
- 250 g sugar or 1⅛ cup
- 250g baking chocolate 60%
- 100 g ground almonds, or about 1 cup
- 3 tablespoons Maizena (corn starch)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (opt)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- the remaining butter - listed above
- 125 g chocolate 70%
- 1-2 tablespoons milk (opt)
- Preheat the oven to 200-220°C or 400-425°F
- (Make sure butter for recipe has been sitting out and is nice and soft)
- Butter the quiche pan and put parchment paper on the bottom. Put butter on top of that, then sprinkle sugar on bottom and sides and shake out excess.
- Separate the eggs and first mix the 3 whites in one bowl, with several dashes of salt until stiff.
- Then mix the yolks and sugar in a bigger bowl until it turns white.
- Add the ground almonds, corn starch, baking powder and vanilla and mix that in.
- Put aside the mixer and fold the whites into the batter using a spatula. Mix well, but stop as soon as you don't see any more whites.
- Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 mns.
- Let it cool for a half hour, then flip over onto plate.
- Melt the chocolate and remaining butter and add the confectioner sugar (and if desired, the milk to help make it easier to spread).
- Cover the cake carefully with the topping.
- You can refrigerate, but take out an hour before eating.
- Cut small slices and enjoy!
If you’d like to see more (mostly French) gluten-free recipes, visit my recipe page here.