I figured out what you need for your Christmas dessert buffet this year. Dense, super rich flourless chocolate cake with peppermint whipped cream.
Crush up some candy canes from your stocking and your cake is the star of the party. Chocolate and peppermint is such a great combination and perfect for Christmas day. This cake is beautiful and even more delicious than it looks. Each bite is like eating a slice of chocolate truffle with fluffy, wintery whipped cream. The sweet whipped cream pairs wonderfully with the rich dark chocolate. It sweetens the cake just enough to make each bite delicious without being over-the-top. The perfect combo.
Powdered sugar on chocolate desserts always reminds me of snow. I think the stark contrast of the airy white powder against the solid dark chocolate is beautiful. I loved adding the crushed peppermints to really make it look like a winter wonderland dessert. The peppermint almost blends in with the powdered sugar but the small bits of red stripes make it pop just enough to make this cake festive. You can sprinkle powdered sugar all over the cake or get fancy and make a snowflake cut out then dust on the sugar for a really impressive look.
I could eat this peppermint whipped cream by the bowlful. It tastes so fresh and cool and is a great contrast against the deep chocolatey flavor of the cake. The pairing is delicious and essential for your highest flourless chocolate cake enjoyment. If you want it to look a little more like your candy canes, add a few drops of red food coloring and swirl with a spatula before serving it. You can also add a bit of crunchy texture by folding in finely chopped peppermints or candy canes. Just writing about it makes me want to eat the whole bowl.
This cake is velvety, smooth, rich and dense – all of the qualities a flourless chocolate cake should possess. One of the best parts is that it is also gluten free, without any substitutions! One of the tricks to making sure it is smooth and velvety is to bake it in a waterbath, like you would a cheesecake. Pull it out of the oven while it still jiggles in the middle; it will firm up as it cools and become the perfect texture. When you are done you will have a fudgy dark chocolate truffle cake, ready for peppermint and Christmas festivities.
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Whipped Cream
8 eggs, cold
1 pound (about 2 2/3 cups) dark or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped*
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2-4 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee or espresso, room temperature
Powdered sugar, for topping
Peppermints or candy canes, crushed, for topping
Peppermint Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons-1/2 cup powdered or granulated sugar
1-1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
*I tried this cake with 72% chocolate, hoping to get a very rich cake but it was too bitter. Try a chocolate less than 72% for a sweet, not bitter cake.
To make the Flourless Chocolate Cake
Coat an 8 or 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the sides of the pan. Use two rectangles of aluminum foil to wrap the outside of the pan, so water can’t get in between the sides of the springform. Set the wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan or large casserole dish. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on medium speed until they have doubled in volume. This should take about 5 minutes.
Bring water to a boil in a double boiler or a large pot. Pour the chocolate, butter and coffee in the top of the double boiler or in a large heatproof bowl and set over the boiling water. Let it melt, stirring a few times to bring all of the ingredients together. It should be smooth and warm after a few minutes.
Use a large spatula to gently fold one-third of the foamed eggs into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining egg foam in 2 additions until there are no egg streaks. The chocolate mixture should be much fluffier now.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top with your spatula. Place the roasting pan in the oven and pour boiling water into the pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cake has slightly risen and the edges are beginning to look like a brownie. The center should still be wobbly, it will set as it cools. You don’t want to overbake, otherwise it will lose its velvety texture, so make sure to check it. Remove the cake from the water bath and set on a wire rack to cool. Cover the pan and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.
Before you serve it, run a kife between the sides of the cake and the pan. Undo the sprinform pan and remove the ring that creates the sides of the pan. Transfer the cake by sliding two spatulas under it and carefully moving it to your final display plate, or by inverting it onto a sheet of waxed paper then turning it right side up onto your serving plate. Right before you serve, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and crushed peppermints or candy canes. Serve each slice with a dollop of peppermint whipped cream. The powdered sugar might start to melt into the cake after a while, sprinkle more on next time you serve it to make it look nice again. The powdered sugar is also great for covering any cracks in the top of the cake ;)
To make the Peppermint Whipped Cream
Pour the cream into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the cream on medium-high speed for a few minutes, until soft peaks form (the cream forms peaks but the peaks fall and don’t stand up on their own when you pull the whisk out). Add the powdered or granulated sugar (both work, but the powdered sugar disolves into the whipped cream more easily) and the peppermint extract. Continue to whip the mixture on high speed. Taste along the way to see if you need to add more sugar or peppermint extract. Remember that the cake is very rich and only sweetened by the chocolate, so if you used very dark chocolate you might need sweeter whipped cream to compensate. Whip the cream, sugar and extract until stiff peaks form. Serve right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge. It is best if used immediately, but will save for a few hours to a day if kept cold.
Cake slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Cookbook