Chocolate Souffle Cake with Pecan Smoked Sea Salt

It was my birthday two weeks ago.  I was unusually quiet about it.  You see something happened when I turned 40;  I became quiet, somewhat reserved about my age.  I use to go all out, reminding everyone, wanting to do something epic; blah, blah, blah.  Now, I sit back, enjoy my time with the ones I love.  I prefer a quiet and intimate setting;  nice dinner, good wine, family and/or friends and my love.  Instead of the let’s rush out to a fancy, schmancy place and spend oodles of cash.  Don’t get my wrong, I still feel strongly about birthdays, after all, it is “my day” and I can do anything I want, like eat gooey chocolate cake.

Chocolate is the one thing I cannot live without.  Really!  When people ask me, what is the one food, I honestly love, it always comes back to chocolate.  It does have to be deep, dark and rich chocolate.  Not fluffy semi or milk;  BORING.  I like the chocolate to melt on my tongue, slide down my throat and get into my belly;  I want every last bite to linger, like a first kiss.  Perfection really.

Last weekend I decided to experiment with a favorite recipe of mine, the flourless chocolate cake. This particular recipe is my go-to dessert when heading over to friend’s house for dinner.  It is fool-proof, delicious, and gluten-free.  I wanted to transform the recipe, take it to new limits, make it sexy.  I had some chocolate tucked away, from our trip to France, a 68% Le Noir, which promised  to be complex, bitter and refined.   I tossed around the idea of adding different essence to the chocolate base, orange, lime, bergamot, even espresso.  Then I spied out of the corner of my little eye, the package of sea salts, that Jackie gave me for Christmas.  They have been sitting quietly on the shelve in my kitchen, just waiting for me to play with them.  Jackie surprised me with two of Virginia Willis’s seasonings from My Southern Pantry, the French Quarter Spice Rub and Pecan Smoked Sea Salt.  It was a hard decision on which one to pick for this recipe as I thought both would hold hands perfectly with the sinful chocolate;  but, in the end, I picked the Pecan Smoked Sea Salt.  I thought the slightly nutty, somewhat smokey and salty bite, would be perfect with the already complex chocolate.

In addition to playing with the flavors of this cake, I also wanted to play with the texture.  Instead of the usual dense chocolate cake, I wanted it to be a little lighter, somewhat fluffy and warm and gooey.  I wanted the complexity to change throughout the dessert course.  Normally when I make this cake I use a paddle attachment with my mixer, this time I opted for the whisk.  As well I let half of the chocolate chill in the fridge until it was almost crumbly.  I whisked in a lot of air, after each addition of egg.  Once the batter was light in color and slightly fluffy, I poured in the melted half of the chocolate, it was still slightly warm.  I continued whisking until the batter doubled in size.  At this point, I added the chocolate crumbles.  After pouring the heavily whisked batter into a buttered tart pan, I generously sprinkled the top with the Pecan Smoked Sea Salt.  Upon removing the cake from the oven, I let it cool for only 10 minutes, then removed the sides.   The texture of the finished cake was slightly firm but still had a light, almost souffle feel to it to it.  The top slightly cracked, which I think, gives the cake a rustic appearance.  When I cut into the cake, it was a little gooey but not raw.  The smokey, nutty salt married exceptionally well with the sultry chocolate.  The flavors were perfect together and did not really need anything else;  but, I served a lightly sweetened sour cream along side the cake.

Now, this my friends, is the ultimate birthday celebration.

Do you have a favorite flour-less cake recipe?


If you liked this post, check these out:

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Torte


  1. Denise, I can’t live without chocolate either. Why try?! Happy belated birthday – I’m sure it was a lovely celebration. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with quiet!

  2. Wow who knew you were 40? I hope I age as well! ;-)
    Okay if you’re finished rolling on the floor laughing…that is one perfect looking cake my girl!!

    And, I think if you have something that deeply flavorful and rewarding, you don’t need as much. Like the difference between one perfect square of good chocolate vs a whole Hershey’s bar. No contest.

    I can’t wait to show Virginia this recipe!!

    Enjoy – I so wish I were there to help you eat it. Lenny is one lucky guy.

  3. Happy belated B day. Your photo is stunning and i love the flavors here.

  4. Wow! That looks and sounds so delicious. I got a little tin of the salt from Ms. Willis last week so I’m going to get myself some good chocolate and bake! Happy Birthday!

  5. Oh, there will be celebrating. A little late — Janet and I were thinking we combine you and Allison since hers is coming up? This cake looks to do for. Excited about the ways you adapted it. Talk soon. xo

  6. This sounds wonderful! Loooove chocolate and sea salt!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  7. AmyRuth says:

    Yes, may I please have “that” for breakfast? It looks simply beautiful, but maybe it needs friends?

  8. Your dessert looks sensational. Love the flavor combination.

  9. That’s why you have 27 year old friends. People will never know :)

    HAPPY BELATED if I didn’t catch it on Facebook. Hope you had a wonderful quiet celebration with Lenny!

  10. Frank Foodie says:

    Wow this sounds really good and I wish I was there to enjoy it. I will have to pass this recipe to my friend who bakes so I don’t mess it up.

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