Just the Good Stuff

The beauty of a flourless chocolate cake based on only three ingredients is that it makes chocolate the clear centerpiece. Which means your selection of chocolate is the critical factor to the cake’s success. This again is one of those times when the home cook has a big advantage over the professional baker, since there’s no way even the most extravagant pastry chef could afford to use the kinds of quality chocolates that are available to us regular Joes. Sure, a bakery has access to a broader range of product. I had eight different kinds of chocolate in my little operation, yet for sheer quality none of them came close to the bag of Ghiradelli chips I can buy for $3.49 at my local Kroger.

This all begs the question: what kind of chocolates should you use? This is where you can really let your inner chocolate snob shine through. My standard concoction is a 50-50 blend of Callebaut semisweet and bittersweet chocolates (which I can find in fist-sized chunks at my local Whole Foods or Wild Oats). It’s a low-sugar cacao body blow that a major-league chocolate eater like my wife really appreciates (as do her Chinese colleagues in the modern languages department, who for some reason can’t get enough of it). But that’s just one man’s recipe. There’s a huge range of products out there to choose from, from fruity Mexican chocolates to caramelly European varieties to spicy, coffee-like American ones (I’m thinking Scharffen-Berger here specifically), all in a range of sweetnesses, all of which can be mixed and matched in infinite variety.

So it turns out a three-ingredient flourless chocolate cake really isn’t so simple after all. You could eat one a week for a year and never have the same cake twice. And imagine what an educated palate you’d have at the end of it! All the more reason not to muddy the water with pollutants like sugar, vanilla, Kahlua or whiskey, and let the true chocolate speak for itself.

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