Audrey Hepburn's Simple Flourless Chocolate Cake is a Timeless Classic

It's always a great time to curl up on the couch with a classic Audrey Hepburn movie. Whether it's Passover, Valentines Day or any other day, why not pair Roman Holiday with one of the actress's favorite desserts? Hepburn's son, Luca Dotti, published a book of his mother's recipes in 2015 titled Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother's Kitchen. 

From Penne alla Vodka to Turkish-style Sea Bass, many of the recipes in the book not only reflect a moment in Hepburn's life, but they also stand out as classic dishes that can be enjoyed by modern eaters. Dotti writes in the cookbook that his mother loved chocolate and she would have it every day as a little pick-me-up.

On special occasions and birthdays, she served her signature dessert: a flourless chocolate cake sprinkled with powdered sugar that she served with homemade whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. I couldn't think of a more quintessential dessert to make for Passover, so I went to the kitchen to give this chocolatey dessert a try.

Get the recipe: Audrey Hepburn's Flourless Chocolate Cake

<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

Ingredients for Audrey Hepburn's Flourless Chocolate Cake

You only need six ingredients for this cake: Chopped unsweetened dark chocolate, whole milk, unsalted butter, sugar, powdered sugar and eggs.

Related: The Super-Easy Pasta Dish Audrey Hepburn Ate Once a Week

How to Make Audrey Hepburn's Flourless Chocolate Cake

Start by preheating your oven to 400°. Spray a 10- or 12-inch round cake pan with non-stick spray. (Alternatively, if you don't mind a little bit of flour, you can butter and lightly flour your pan.) Melt the chocolate and milk in a double boiler, then add the butter and stir until smooth. Turn off the heat and whisk in the egg yolks.

In a separate bowl, gradually add the sugar to the egg whites and whip to form stiff peaks (I used my KitchenAid mixer for this part). Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate-egg yolk mixture. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes and turn off the oven.

Open the oven door and leave the cake inside for about 10 minutes. This process is a preventive measure that helps the cake's crust from cracking. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream.

Related: 11 Simple and Delicious Valentine's Day Chocolate Bark Recipes

What I Thought of Audrey Hepburn's Flourless Chocolate Cake

At first glance, this cake looked simple but it was actually a bit tricky to make. So tricky, in fact, I had to make it twice. On attempt number one, I used a double boiler, but had a few challenges. The bowl was touching the water underneath (rookie mistake) and the bowl also didn't fit snugly on top of the pot of water. The gap left plenty of room for steam and spurting water to get into my chocolate, which caused it to get dry and clumpy.

I pressed on in the hopes that I could fix it, but once your chocolate seizes you're usually sunk. After adding in the yolks, the cake batter got even drier and lumpier and the cake came out dry, heavy and tough. It was also bitter and tasted slightly burnt—a direct result of my failed chocolate melting.

I didn't want to let Audrey down, so I tried again. The second time around, I used the microwave to melt my chocolate, which gave me more control—and it came out perfectly. I was able to whip my yolks into it effortlessly and continue with the recipe. As you can see below, my second try was a success!

<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

The second cake was rich and silky with impressive height. It had a cloud-like texture from the egg whites being folded into the melted chocolate and the top was slightly crisp top—like the edges of your favorite brownie. If you've got a gluten-free family member or need a new dessert for Passover, this recipe is for you!

Completed Flourless Chocolate Cake<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>
Completed Flourless Chocolate Cake

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

Related: Audrey Hepburn’s Creamy Penne alla Vodka is the Perfect Simple Supper

Tips for Making Audrey Hepburn's Flourless Chocolate Cake

  1. Use the microwave, if possible. If you have a microwave, this is the time to use it. Melting the chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring between each burst, is the best and easiest way to get the job done. If you have a double boiler, make sure that the bottom of your bowl isn't touching the water and that the bowl fits snugly on top of the pot.

  2. Chop your chocolate. Audrey mentions using chopped chocolate in her recipe, so don't ignore this step (breaking the unsweetened chocolate bar into pieces isn't enough). Chopping your chocolate into smaller pieces is going to help it melt faster. And no, you can't use chocolate chips. Well, you can, but the texture will be affected because most chocolate chips have stabilizers to help them keep their shape.

  3. Use cocoa powder. Traditionally, recipes call for dusting the cake pan with flour to prevent sticking. If you want to keep this cake fully flourless, you can use cocoa powder to dust your pan after spraying it with nonstick spray or coating it with butter or shortening. I used a round of parchment in the bottom of my pan for extra insurance.

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