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Dorie Greenspan’s Lisbon Chocolate Cake

Editor’s Note: Hailing from her newest book Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple, this recipe lives up to its title. Simple ingredients make a delectable, sweet treat that’s sure to impress. That’s what Dorie is all about! Here’s what she has to say about it:

On our last day in Lisbon, my husband and I had the cake at Landeau Chocolate, a beautiful cafe. I say the cake, because it is the only cake, indeed the only thing other than coffee and tea, on the menu. The cake is remarkable in that it is intense, but not overwhelming. It has three layers – a dense-but-not-heavy brownie-like cake; a whipped chocolate ganache, very much like a mousse; and a dusting of cocoa that is its own important component. The day I returned home, I set to work making this version of it.

As impressive as this cake looks, it’s not difficult or tricky to make. The dark cake layer is mixed on top of the stove – just make sure you beat the cold eggs until the mixture is thick, shiny and puddingish. The ganache is a cinch – get it cold, give it a quick whisking and then fold in some whipped cream. And the whole cake can be made days ahead – it can even be frozen. All this and it’s gluten-free too.

Makes 10 servings

For the cake


  • 1/3 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 5 ounces (142 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 3 cold large eggs

For the ganache


  • 1 3/4 cups (420 ml) heavy cream
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

To finish


  • About 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Ice cream, whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving (optional)

To make the cake


  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper and butter the paper.
  • Sift together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend.
  • Put the butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl) and scatter over the chopped chocolate. Heat, stirring often, until the chocolate melts and is smooth and glossy.
  • Remove the bowl from the pan and working with a flexible spatula, stir in the sugar. The mixture will turn grainy. One by one, add the cold eggs, stirring energetically after each goes in. Once the third egg has been added, beat with the spatula for another minute or so. You really must stir with vigor and you really must beat for a while. The mixture will be slippery and may seem on the verge of separating, but that’s just the sign that you’re not done yet. Keep stirring and it will thicken considerably, look more coherent and remind you of pudding. When it’s just right, the mixture will form a little ribbon when you lift up a bit of it and let it fall back into the bowl. Add the dry ingredients all at once and stir them into the chocolate. Scrape the mixture into the pan and give the pan a couple of good raps against the counter to settle the batter.
  • Bake the cake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the top feels set to the touch and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (If you’ve got a tiny streak of chocolate on the tester, that’s fine – it’s better to underbake this cake than to bake it too much.) Transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 5 minutes before running a table knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cake, if needed, and turning it out onto the rack. Peel off the paper and invert the cake so that it can cool right side up on the rack. Wash and dry the baking pan and keep it handy. Cool the cake to room temperature before topping it with the ganache.

To make the ganache


  • Put 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) of the cream in a small saucepan; keep the remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) cream in the refrigerator. Heat the cream over medium heat until you see little bubbles around the perimeter), turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until it’s fully incorporated. Transfer the ganache to a heatproof bowl and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  • Gently stir the ganache with a whisk and put it back in the refrigerator. Repeat this chilling and whisking every 10 minutes until the ganache is thick enough to make tracks when you stir; it should feel cool to the touch. It usually takes 50 to 60 minutes to reach this point, so don’t plan any outings.
  • Cut two long pieces of parchment or foil and crisscross them in the baking pan, leaving enough excess to securely grab – these will be your cake lifters. Return the cake to the pan right side up.
  • Whip the remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream until it holds soft to medium peaks.
  • Using a whisk, give the ganache a few firm beats – you want the mixture to hold together like soft, easily spreadable frosting. Scrape the whipped cream over the ganache and use a flexible spatula to fold it in. You don’t need to be exceedingly gentle here; the important thing is to get it smooth.
  • Spread the ganache in an even layer over the top of the cake and slide the cake into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. If you want to keep it longer, cover it once the ganache is firm.
  • Although the cake is good when it’s cold, I think it’s best served at a cool room temperature, so pull it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you’re ready for it.

To finish the cake


  • Put the cocoa powder in a fine-mesh strainer and shake it over the top of the cake, covering the cake completely and evenly.

To serve


  • Your ganache may be beyond the edge of the cake and may even be stuck to the sides of the pan. Run a table knife between the cake and the pan to loosen as well as even the topping. Then, using the parchment or foil handles, carefully lift the cake out of the pan and onto a serving plate. Slide the cake lifter or the bottom of a tart pan under the cake and raise the cake so that you can remove the parchment or foil.
  • To slice the cake, treat it like a cheesecake – cut it with a thin knife that has been run under hot water and then wiped dry between each cut. If you’re offering ice cream, whipped cream or crème fraiche as a go-along, put it either on top of the slice of cake or just alongside.

Storing


  • Once topped with cocoa, the cake can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If the cocoa powder sinks into the ganache, give it a fresh dusting. Miraculously, this cake can be frozen for up to 2 months (best to hold off on topping with the cocoa or re-cocoa before serving). Put it in the freezer uncovered and then wrap it airtight once it is firm; defrost it, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.

Excerpted from BAKING WITH DORIE: Sweet, Salty, & Simple © 2021 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2021 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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Editors
Pastry at Home is a hub for elevated dessert recipes for home bakers. Our editors Tish Boyle and AnnMarie Mattila strive to bring you the best curated content to help make you a smarter baker and dessert maker. If you want to be a part of our community, please contribute on the Submit a Recipe page. Or if you have another contribution idea or product you think we would like, shoot us an email at info@pastryathome.com. We would love to hear from you!

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