The first chocolate cakes in Europe date back to the 17th century, when bakers began adding cacao powder, newly imported from the Americas, to their traditional cake recipes.
During the 19th century, pastry chefs, notably in France and Austria, concocted sophisticated chocolate desserts to be enjoyed by the privileged elites.
For everyone else, chocolate in all its forms remained a rare treat, reserved for special occasions.
It was not until the 20th century, as cacao prices became more affordable, that chocolate cake reached the masses.
Today, it is undoubtedly one of the most popular desserts of all time!
There are endless varieties of chocolate cake, from luscious gâteau fondant au chocolat, Sachertorte or Black Forest cake, to rich brownies and even flourless chocolate cake.
This basic recipe for gâteau au chocolat (chocolate cake) is adapted from the classic French cookbook Je sais cuisiner (French edition), by Ginette Mathiot (Albin Michel), also available in English as I Know How to Cook.
It is a simple yet elegant cake with a fine, light texture. Any type of liqueur or flavouring can be added, e.g. kirsch, rum, orange extract or vanilla. For this recipe, I used kirsch.
Gâteau au chocolat (chocolate cake)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes
Serves 8 to 12
- 90 grams (3 ounces) flour
- 140 grams (5 ounces) sugar
- 140 grams (5 ounces) semi-sweet dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 70 grams (2.5 ounces) butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
- 1 tablespoon kirsch or other flavouring
- Melt the chocolate pieces and the butter over low heat, stirring constantly.
- Cool slightly, then add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well.
- Incorporate flour, sugar and kirsch, mixing well after each addition.
- Add the beaten egg whites in three equal portions, taking care to not over-mix.
- Pour batter into well-buttered medium-sized cake pan.
- Bake at 125 degrees C (260 degrees F) for 50 minutes or until done.
- Allow to cool a few minutes before removing from cake pan.