A French Flourless Cake to Bring Comfort & Joy

This post was written by Museum intern Lila Norris.

At a time when it feels as though everything we were looking forward to has been canceled, it can be difficult to remember that life does in fact go on. Spring is still springing outside our windows  and holidays will still take place even if gatherings will not. We’re all struggling with that strange, new reality – Alison Roman writes about it thoughtfully this week in her package of new Passover recipes for the New York Times Cooking section (and includes some pretty delicious looking meals, too). So now, we must move forward.

I decided to dig into our archives and pull out the recipe for Hanna Griff-Sleven’s delicious flourless chocolate cake – a perfect assignment now that I have more time available for baking. This simple-but-mighty cake requires only four ingredients – with any luck, you will be able to bake it without even going to the grocery store. It is incredibly rich and will certainly be a big hit at your Seder. No Seder? It’s a decedent quarantine treat worthy of any table, anytime.

And just like so many cherished recipes, Hanna has a nice story to go along with how she first came to know this particular flourless cake. I’m happy to present Hanna’s story with the recipe here. With things as they are now, I recommend taking this little trip to France, if only in our minds.

Contributed by Hanna Griff-Sleven, former Director of Cultural Programs at the Museum at Eldridge Street

Places and people are often associated with a particular food. When I was in college I  studied in Nantes, France for a semester. France definitely lived up to its food and cooking reputation! The French mama of the family I lived with made a delicious flourless chocolate cake like this one It was a cake for all occasions – delicious eaten warm,just out of the oven, and equally tasty  cold the day after.

When I finished my semester and headed back to America,  my French mama gave me the recipe. It is the perfect Passover dessert and so easy to make.  You can eat warm (yum!) or chilled. I now think of her every time I prepare it during the holiday.


–   7 oz. of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

–   7 oz. soft butter

–   1 cup sugar

–   4 eggs, separated



Preheat oven to 375. Grease an  8 inch round cake pan.

Break the chocolate up in small pieces and melt over hot water.  Add the butter or margarine and stir with a spatula until smooth.

In a separate bowl, add half the sugar and the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is pale  and smooth. Beat in the chocolate mixture.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and are smooth and shiny.  Add the other half of the sugar to the egg whites after the peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula.

Put the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the cake rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan.  It is delicious warm or chilled.

Lila Norris is a sophomore Anthropology major at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at the New School. 

Categories: BlogTags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.