So what exactly is a flourless chocolate cake?

It’s a custard. A very dense custard to be sure, one that can seem almost brownie-like depending on its execution (and there are many, many different ways to make a flourless chocolate cake). But then it can’t be a brownie because it contains no flour, in fact no dry ingredients of any kind. In that sense it’s almost like a chocolate mousse, but of courses mousses (meece?) aren’t baked or cooked. Nope, what you have on your hands whenever a wedge of that splendid, ultra-decadent faux-fudge lands at your table is custard.

Which means it must be treated with the utmost care in the mixing — and especially baking — phases of the process, for custards are delicate things, prone to curdling if they’re heated too aggressively. Thus we’ll need to make some important changes to the recipe below if we want a flawless end product. For one we’ll need to lower the heat to 325 and bake it in a water bath (known amongst the Frogs as a bain marie), and for far less time than the recipe calls for…somewhere on the order of 20 minutes. But then the timing isn’t really important where custards are concerned, it’s temperature that’ll determine perfect doneness. 140 degrees is the magic number, my brothers and sisters, and whether it takes us 55 minutes to get there or only 14 (as was the case with me on one notable occasion) matters not. Perfect temperature = perfect custard.

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