Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

Adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook, this bittersweet chocolate cake recipe has almost a pound of chocolate and a dozen eggs! Light yet rich, it’s a showstopper.

Bittersweet Chocolate Cake recipe

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

This Bittersweet Chocolate Cake, adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook, has almost a pound of chocolate, a full dozen eggs, almost a pound of butter, and only one cup of flour.

If you were looking for a chocolate cake that represented the excesses of the 1980s, I cannot think of a better one than this!

No frosting, but with those ingredients, who needs frosting?

Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with sprinkle of powdered sugar

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

The Famous Silver Palate Chocolate Cake

Since Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins introduced the world to this cake decades ago it has become part of our national baking repertoire. It's like a pound cake, but with dark chocolate.

This cake manages to be both light and airy, while wonderfully rich and delicious, at the same time. Because the eggs provide so much structure, you can easily cut thin slices without having the cake fall apart.

slice of Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

Tips for Making Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

Making this bittersweet chocolate cake takes a little bit of baking skill, but is completely do-able. The parts that people may have trouble with are melting the chocolate, beating the egg whites, and folding the egg whites into the batter. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Whipping egg whites: When separating the eggs, make sure there are no bits of egg yolk in your egg whites. Any amount of fat in the egg whites will keep them from whipping up properly. Make sure your equipment — bowls and whisks or beaters — are spotlessly clean and free of any fat residue. Start on low speed and slowly increase the speed of your mixer.
  • Melting chocolate: Use chocolate meant for baking, not chocolate chips which have added stabilizers. Chop or grate the chocolate fine to make it easier to melt evenly. Add water to the chocolate before you heat them. Make sure that the bottom of the top bowl of your double boiler does not touch the water below it.
  • Folding beaten egg whites into the batter: Lighten the batter first by stirring in a third of the whipped egg whites until smooth. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites in, a third at a time, and do your best to not deflate the egg whites.

The Best Chocolate for This Cake

The best chocolate for baking is block chocolate or chocolate bars. Look these in the baking aisle and choose chocolate with a 60% to 85% cacao content. Some brands we recommend are Guittard, Ghirardelli's and Scharffen Berger.

We don't recommend using chocolate chips for this recipe.

More Glamorous Dessert Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 90 mins
Total Time 2 hrs
Servings 20 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 large eggs, separated (see how to separate eggs)

  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar

  • 14 ounces (400g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, grated or cut into small pieces

  • 4 tablespoons (60ml) water (or more if needed)

  • Pinch kosher salt

  • 3 1/2 sticks (400g) unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 teaspoons orange zest

  • 1 cup (135g) all-purpose flour, sifted (measure first, then sift)



  • Powdered sugar, for garnishing

Special Equipment

  • 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan

Method

  1. Preheat the oven and prepare the pan:

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a rack in the center of the oven. Place a baking sheet in a rack below it (to catch any drippings or spill-overs).

    Generously butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. Add a few tablespoons of the sugar and gently shake so that all the sides and bottom of the pan are coated with sugar. Tap out the excess sugar.

  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar:

    Beat egg yolks with the granulated sugar until they are thick and pale yellow and form a ribbon when they fall from the beater, about 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed of an electric hand mixer.

    egg yolks being beaten with sugar

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

  3. Melt the chocolate:

    Make a double boiler by heating an inch of water to a bare simmer in a saucepan, and place a metal bowl on top of it. Make sure that the bottom of the metal bowl is not touching the water below.

    Place chocolate and 4 tablespoons of water together in the top metal bowl of the double boiler.

    Slowly melt the chocolate over barely simmering water, whisking it until smooth. If the chocolate gets too thick, and looks like it will firm up, whisk in a tablespoon more of water.

    Whisk in a pinch of salt.

    Let cool until just warm to the touch.

    chocolate melting in a double boiler

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    whisking melted chocolate in double boiler

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

  4. Make the batter:

    Slowly fold the warm chocolate into the egg mixture, gently stirring while you add the chocolate. Stir in the softened butter. Stir in the grated orange peel. Stir in the sifted flour. Mix thoroughly but gently.

    mixing chocolate and egg mixture for bittersweet chocolate cake batter

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    mixing softened butter into bittersweet chocolate cake batter

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    mixing orange zest into bittersweet chocolate cake batter

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    mixing flour into bittersweet chocolate cake batter

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

  5. Incorporate the beaten egg whites:

    Beat the egg whites until stiff. (See this wonderful explanation of whisking egg whites taken from La Bonne Cuisine de Madame Sant-Ange.)

    Stir one third of the beaten egg whites in to the chocolate egg mixture to thin it. Gently fold in the remaining beaten egg whites, a third at a time until the egg whites are completely incorporated. Be careful at this stage not to over-mix.

    gently folding beaten egg whites into chocolate cake batter

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    bittersweet chocolate cake batter in a mixing bowl

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

  6. Bake:

    Pour the batter into your prepared springform pan. The batter will come close to the top of the pan. Set the pan on the middle rack of your oven and bake at 325°F for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean, or a digital thermometer inserted into the center reaches 200°F (93°C).

    chocolate cake batter added to a springform pan

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    cooling bittersweet chocolate cake from the silver palate cookbook

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    Simple Tip!

    Do not worry if the top of your baked chocolate cake has cracks in it! As the cake cools, the top will settle and the cracks will close.

  7. Cool:

    Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove the outer rim. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate.

    caked removed from springform pan

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

  8. Serve:

    When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
763 Calories
66g Fat
43g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 763
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 66g 84%
Saturated Fat 40g 199%
Cholesterol 262mg 87%
Sodium 57mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 16%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 36g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 42mg 3%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 139mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.