One of the things Alaska is known for are its earthquakes. There is an average of 1,000 earthquakes in the state each month, and we feel them frequently here on the Kenai Peninsula. The largest earthquake I’ve experienced in my lifetime was here in 2016, a magnitude 7.1 that was prolonged and jolting. And of course, there is the famous Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, a whopping 9.2 magnitude, the largest ever recorded in North America. That quake caused tsunamis and massive landslides and shifted the elevation and geography of several parts of the state.
When I read about this flourless Earthquake Cake in Anne Byrn’s stunning historical cookbook, American Cake, I couldn’t think of a better dessert to adapt for this book. The tall outer edges of the cake jut up like snow-dusted mountain peaks, giving way to the shattered ground in the center, dense and rich in chocolate, like moist, moveable earth. The cake, like Alaska, is formidable and stunning to behold, yet imperfect and fragile at the same time. This recipe is a little high maintenance (using your oven timer for precise times will be crucial), but it’s also the best flourless chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted, so it’s absolutely worth it.
- Yield: 8 to 10 Servings
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- ½ cup butter
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 3 tablespoons crème de menthe liqueur
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Position an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8" springform pan. Dust the pan with the cocoa.
- 2Break the chocolate into pieces and cut the butter into cubes. In a saucepan, combine the chocolate and butter over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, or until the chocolate melts and the mixture becomes smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed, gradually adding ¾ cup of the granulated sugar. Continue beating for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the yolks are pale yellow and thick. Reduce the mixer speed to the lowest setting and gradually add the chocolate mixture until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the crème de menthe and beat until just combined. Set aside.
- Add the egg whites to another mixing bowl. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Add the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar and beat for 1 minute, or until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the chocolate mixture. Pour the batter into the springform pan.
- Bake the cake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature again to 250°F. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a firm crust forms on top and the cake wiggles slightly to the touch. Turn off the oven, leaving the cake inside. Using a folded kitchen towel, prop open the oven door. Let the cake rest inside the oven with the door propped open for 25 minutes.
- Move the cake to a wire rack and let cool on the counter for 30 minutes. The cake will collapse as it cools. This is what you want. Gingerly run a butter knife around the edge of the pan before releasing it from the spring-form sides. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Slice with a sharp knife. Best served warm or at room temperature.