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Simon Majumdar

Flourless Chocolate Cakes: Tips & Techniques

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I am ( and have been for a while ) on a low carb diet.  The upside is that I have lost 50lbs.  The downside is that I can't keep up with my love of baking and desserts.

I wondered if anyone could suggest some flourless cake recipes ( apart from the obvious chocolate one ) that I could try?

Thanks in advance

S

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Hmmm - that's an interesting one. Most of the completely flourless cake recipes I've seen have used cocoa to replace some or all of the dry mass of the flour, which is why chocolate is such a ubiquitous example of the genre. That said, I think I have something that relies mainly on ground almonds to give it a bit of heft. I'll have a look and see if they sneak any flour in that I'm not remembering.

Miss J

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Simon - back in the old country I had a recipe for a flourless orange cake. It involved boiling and orange (or two), blending it, mixing this with almond meal and egg/sugar/butter. Problem, is I haven't got the recipe here, I wonder if this concept rings a bell with any body?

Sorry, I have been of so little help, but here I am tucking into my second rich, buttery croissant and I feeling your pain of pastry deprivation. This makes me very sad so I will have a third croissant. Mmmm. Better now.

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Adam/Miss J

I await your recipes with eager anticipation

Mr Balic I await news of your heart attack after eating three buttery croissants with equally eager and baited breath.  But then you are an aussie and probably don't have a heart or you would not taunt me so.

S

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An Australians heart is as great as Australia itself. Unfortunately, the heart of Australia is a desert.

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It's not quite cheese and not quite cake, but... try a cheesecake!  Take any standard recipe (I've been using the one from The Best Recipe, which is similar to all other cheesecake recipes), and do the following:

- Replace the sugar with an equal measure of cooking/baking Splenda.

- Replace the graham-cracker crust with one of ground nuts (I use hazelnuts, plus a few almonds), Splenda, and cinnamon.  Don't forget the butter.

A friend also bakes a beautiful chocolate-mocha cake using, I think, almond flour, unsweetened chocolate, Mascarpone, (eggs?), instant espresso, slivered almonds, and, of course,  Splenda.

Unsweetened chocolate plus artificial sweetener doesn't produce exactly the taste and texture of "real" bittersweet chocolate,  but at this point in your diet you may not notice, and won't care.

Finally, I assume that you're following Dr. Atkins' program. Have you tried any of the dessert recipes in his diet books and cookbooks?

-------------

Addendum:

If your diet includes some fruit, consider simmering a half-cup of berries, along with sweetener, a drop of lemon juice, and maybe a bit of butter, and plopping the cooled mixture decoratively in the center of the above cheesecake after cooling the cake to room temperature but prior to refrigerating it. Making enough topping to cover it entirely would compromise your carb count, and anyway, a well-made cheesecake needs little ornamentation.

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I interviewed the French diet guru Michel Montignac last year who says chocolate above 70% cocoa content in fine -- even good -- for dieters. He also has no problem with creme brulee.

As for flourless chocolate cake, I've never found better than Jean-Georges' mi-cuit au chocolate (a dessert he claims to have invented but some say really came from Michel Bras).

I'd gladly post the recipe (very easy) from his book if

you don't have it.

Wait a minute...can I post a recipe here without getting in trouble?

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Chocolate does indeed contain some useful antioxidants, but, M. Montignac notwithstanding, that hardly makes it a health food, especially for low-carbohydrate dieters for whom sugar intake must be essentially nil.  Substituting unsweetened chocolate and artificial sweetener can work pretty well, but the results will not be identical, especially if the recipe calls for lots of chocolate and lots of sugar.

As for posting recipes, there's a tedious discussion of copyrights and such somewhere in eGullet Announcements.

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Tedious but necessary in the modern world we live in, ahr.

Read Steven's announcement Lesley and if you have any questions, e-mail me and I'll help.

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There's a very good almond cake recipe in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking that calls for only 6 tablespoons of flour.  I'm pretty sure you could substitute 6 tablespoons of almond meal with the desirable effect of intensifying the almond flavor.

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Just remember, all you low-carb dieters, it ain't just flourless, but also sugarless, that counts.

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Simon -- I found these three at the Godiva site:

Vanilla Hazelnut Freeze:

My Webpage

Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Creme:  (Half-and-half is 10 carbs per cup)

My Webpage

And on the third, I forgot to note the recipe title, so it will have to be a surprise :raz: And you'd have to use a sugar substitute:

My Webpage

And congratulations on your 50-pound loss!

Cats

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Oops.  Disregard my previous post.  Obviously I haven't mastered the intricacies of the http code button.  Here are the sites again.

Vanilla Hazelnut Freeze:

www.godiva.com/recipes/recipe.asp?=100

Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Creme:

www.godiva.com/recipes/recipe.asp?=453

Mystery Dessert:

www.godiva.com/recipes/recipe.asp?=300

Cats

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Alas Simon, my cake recipes have all included a smidgen of flour and a bit more sugar, which seem to play havoc with your food plan. I tend to be a bit wary of substituting ingredients wholesale in baking, as the chemical reactions required to make cakes rise/tenderise/brown can be a little persnickity.

:non-professional baker warning follows:

When you're already dealing with a low amount of flour and sugar in relation to your eggs, you need to be careful about messing around with them or it could really affect the cake's finished height & texture. If you're not too bothered and are just pining for something sweet and cake-y, this might not be a problem. And I may be a bit too cautious. Personally I've never baked with Splenda or any other sugar substitute, so I don't know how it behaves in relation to sugar.

This is a really good point for Steve Klc to jump in an enlighten us with his wisdom...

Miss J

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In searching around re the upsidedown pineapple cake thread, I came across a low-carb recipe for same:

http://lowcarbluxury.com/recipes/recipe-cake21.html

In fact, lowcarbluxury.com has a whole raft of low-carb recipes.  The website's motto is, "It is an inequitable transaction to trade dreams for surrender."   :smile:

There is a whole page of low-carb desserts at http://lowcarluxury.com/lowcarb-desserts.html

Cats

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Hey Miss J--there are lots of other professional bakers and pastry chefs--and home hobbyists--that post and lurk here--let's give everyone a chance to weigh in on this.  This is expanding into several issues and I do have a few thoughts about diets,lowcarb, chocolate, "flourless" cakes and sugar substitutes, too--anyone else?

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Simon - I know you have ambivalent feelings about Nigella Lawson, but her clementine cake  seems to be just what you're looking for (and it's fabulous -- I made it for christmas)

It takes about a pound of clementines, boiled  for 2 hours with the skins on and chopped finely.

6 eggs, beaten with 1 cup plus 2 T sugar, 2 1/3 c.ground almonds and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.  Add the clementines, and bake at 375 F for about an hour in an 8 inch springform pan.

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This cake sounds really interesting ChefGrrl.

Of course, Simon, you probably have the advantage of working with the UK version of "How to Eat" and blessedly have at your disposal sugar and almond measurements in weight rather than volume.  No tedious 1C+2T or 2 and 1/3C or heaping teaspoon for you Europeans.  (With this "cake," though, precise measurement is not as important.) I'd suggest you use almond flour rather than ground almonds--since grinding your own almonds almost never works out well at home. (The flour is what is left over after a large percentage of the almond oil has been pressed out--and works better in alot of baking applications.)

I admire the fact that Nigella writes "It was only after I did this cake a few times--the route it took to get to me was circuitous, as these things can be--that I realized it was more or less food writer Claudia Roden's orange and almond cake."  A lesser writer would have left this out.

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I'm a Nigella fan but it seems like most of her recipes are someone else's with a bit fiddling and something added to avoid it looking like a complete rip-off. Sure she gives everyone credit, but are any of her creations original?

I'm starting to see her as someone who is awfully good at finding good recipes and choosing cute sweaters.

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If true, Lesley--what's worse--one person finding cute sweaters and playing with the basic home recipes of others--which really has passed into common currency, so unsophisticated to be almost inherently unoriginal--like I see Nigella--or building entire glossy magazine staffs and media empires around dumbing down, stealing, re-working what professional chefs and pastry chefs do--and most of the time not crediting said chef?  I'm not talking about celebrity chef puff pieces--where the magazine gains by the name association--but all the other pieces by food writers, personalities and in-house staff.

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When I started writing about food, I didn't know you could run a story using other people's recipes (even credited or adapted) and I worked like a dog to come up with original recipes for each story. Now from time to time, I'll use someone else's recipe if I'm that charmed by it, but I always see it as a cop-out. Maybe it's because I started as a chef.

But boy, we're opening a huge can of worms on this subject.

A lot of people think chefs make lousy food writers because they can't relate to the home cook. But what are the home cooks basing their writing on? As a reader, I'd much rather read a story about chocolate by Steve Klc than Coleman Andrews, information based on experience rather than research. Of course, it all depends on the subject. I know a New York chef who told me he was constantly getting requests from food writers for recipes. I can understand how the publicity can help a restaurant, but I certainly have more respect for a writer (like Amanda Hesser) who will develop a recipe of her own to run alongside a chef recipe or a recipe from a book.

When it comes to magazines, I guess the anonymous people in the test kitchen make that choice. I mean, what would Martha Stewart be without Susan Spungen? But hey, I bet Susan Spungen is very well paid, and quite happy to work behind the scenes.

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Hey Miss J--there are lots of other professional bakers and pastry chefs--and home hobbyists--that post and lurk here--let's give everyone a chance to weigh in on this.  This is expanding into several issues and I do have a few thoughts about diets,lowcarb, chocolate, "flourless" cakes and sugar substitutes, too--anyone else?

Absolutely - the more thoughts on this topic, the better. I like finding enlightenment wherever it happens to present itself.  :biggrin:

Miss J

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Try this list Flourless recipes from Doing Freedom.. And this excellent article on the subject: Article.

As specified in it, a flourless chocoloate cake is more about the chocolate than the flavorings; so it would be important to stick to top quality chocolate when making it.

70% for me is minimum requirement for chocolate usage. The higher the %, the more pure it is and the more cocoa in it. A daily dose of high % chocolate is apparently good for the body and not harmful.

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