Thursday, December 12, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Date Cake with Raspberry-Maple Sauce

Flourless chocolate cakes have always had a high ranking amongst my favorite desserts. I know they're not very high brow, but I'm a sucker for melty chocolate and moist cake. There is a restaurant in Cleveland that serves a "pate" of soft chocolate ganache covered in raspberry sauce that was pretty revelatory to me as a child, and probably shaped a lot of my future dessert aspirations. 

I also love date cake. Sticky and dense and heavy, I love the way baked dates taste like caramel or browned butter. A friend recently told me she didn't encounter dates until she was an adult. The first time she heard of them was on a restaurant menu, in the form of Date Cake. She thought it was a special cake meant to be served on dates! Like, romantic dates, not the fruit. She and her dining partner ordered it and made all sorts of jokes about eating the special date cake, until her girlfriend arrived and informed them dates are, in fact, a fruit.

However, I highly recommend you serve this cake on date night because I'm pretty sure S started loving me more after he tried this cake. It is that good. I finished shooting it just before he got home so as soon as he took off his shoes and sat down we split the first slice and it was amazing.

The day after I made it S had a day off work, when I came home he told me 
"I had a really hard time with that date cake today." As if it has misbehaved or been in his way.
"What?" I asked.
"I had a hard time not eating it." He said.

It's an adaptation of this recipe, I tweaked the amount of dates, changed some sweeteners, swapped brown sugar for the more caramel tasting coconut sugar to match the dates, added maple syrup, cinnamon, and almond extract and the result is a complex, dense but not heavy, chocolatey cake with a heavenly texture.

I really liked the combination of the dates and dark chocolate, I chopped my dates fairly rough so there would be noticeable bits of date in the final product and I was glad I did. The dates were like soft pockets of caramel in the deep chocolate cake. 

I generally find raspberries make a fantastic addition to anything chocolate, and I thought they would go nicely with the dates too, but to give them a slightly darker and more complex edge, I added the maple syrup. I used frozen raspberries, so you should feel free to do the same. The sauce turned out lovely, and I bet it would be pretty great on vanilla ice cream too, if you have any leftover.

This cake filled my apartment with an amazing chocolate-toffee-fruit smell that lingered long after it finished baking, I imagine making this cake just before people arrive to a party would make your guests think you're a culinary genius. 

I think I'll be making this cake again next week for a dinner party we're having, at which I hope to make a copy cat honey baked ham. But first I have to find an affordable unglazed spiral cut ham in Manhattan. If anyone has any secret ham sources, let me know.

This cake would be lovely at the end of a holiday dinner, or any kind of dinner party. It's easy enough to make alongside other cooking, doesn't have to be eaten immediately after baking, and tastes like chocolate heaven.

Flourless Chocolate Date Cake

10 0z pitted chopped dates
1/2 C butter
12 oz Dark Chocolate
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
5 Eggs, separated
1/2 C coconut sugar *
3/4 C ground almonds (I used my food processor)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 

Raspberry-Maple Sauce

2 cups raspberries (frozen is fine)
2 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a 9 inch springform pan, (if you don't have a springform line a pan with aluminum foil to make removing cake easy.) 
Place your chopped dates, chocolate, maple syrup, and butter in a heat proof bowl or a double boiler, and place over lightly simmering water. Mix occasionally until chocolate and butter have melted and everything is mixed. Set aside to cool.

Combine egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, and almond extract in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a medium sized bowl and mix until creamy and pale, 2-3 minutes. 

When the chocolate mixture is fairly cool stir in the egg yolk mixture until fully combined. Mix in the ground almonds.

In a separate bowl using a whisk or electric mixture whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. 
Fold the egg whites into the batter until fully combined, but do not overmix. Be gentle with the egg whites.

Pour batter into pan and bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. 

While the cake bakes, combine the raspberries and maple syrup in a small sauce pan, cook over low heat for 8-12 minutes, until a sauce forms. Set aside to cool a bit. 

Allow cake to cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm with raspberry sauce poured over each slice.

*Brown sugar can be substituted for coconut sugar, if needed.


  1. Thanks for the recipe. It's in the oven right now and smells amazing! Can't wait to try it for my 4 year olds birthday.

  2. How do you think this would turn out without the 1/2 cup coconut sugar?
    I still want it to be sweet, but only want to use dates...
    Add more dates?
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks for recipe :)

    1. Hi Sophie, I think the cake could be great without the coconut sugar, but perhaps add a few more dates to compensate! Perhaps another 2-4 ounces of dates. Let me know how it turns out, sans sugar!

  3. Has anyone successful used flour instead of the ground almonds?
    If much?

    1. I would try about 1/3-1/2 C of flour Sophie. I'm not sure how it'll turn out- perhaps less fudgy and more cakey.