Lavender Honey Flourless Chocolate Cake

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When I was in college I obsessively bought cookbooks somewhat because cooking fascinated me and I dreamed of doing it well. I joined a book club that automatically sent a cookbook each month allowing you to send it back or keep it. One month I received Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts. I did not really want this book as I had never heard of her, but I missed the deadline to send it back, paid for it and it was mine. I had no idea that I had just purchased a baking treasure. Now I realize that there are many possible explanations for baking failures. Of course, the obvious is you did something wrong. But it may also be the recipe. Never ever when I bake from Maida Heatter’s recipes, do they disappoint. Each time they succeed, look right, and are delicious. She is a true master of cookbook writing and I am not the only one who so thinks. She has won many awards. One very smart food blogger dedicated a website to baking through step-by-step many of her cakes, breads, cookies, etc.

She is a true inspiration and I hesitate to touch any of her recipes, but as I search for ways to make herbs taste good and incorporate them into life, I keep going back to her books as a guide for I trust them like no other.

The floral lavender addition peaks through the dense, rich flavor of this cake just barely imparting it a bit of mystery. If preparing the lavender honey, plan to make the honey about 2 weeks before making the cake so it is ready when the time comes to bake. (see note below)

Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Cakes (Robert Redford Cake)

Lavender Honey Flourless Chocolate Cake
Servings Prep Time
12-16people 40minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
12-16people 40minutes
Cook Time
Lavender Honey Flourless Chocolate Cake
Servings Prep Time
12-16people 40minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
12-16people 40minutes
Cook Time
  • For cake
  • cup almond meal
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • sticks organic unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup lavender honey*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 organic eggs, separated
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • For icing
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • For lavender honey
  • 3 TBS dried lavender flower buds
  • 1 cup organic honey
  • cheesecloth and kitchen twine optional
  • For whipped cream
  • 1 cup organic heavy cream
  • 1 TBS lavender honey*
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
For cake
  1. Adjust rack of oven one third up from bottom. Preheat to 375 °F. Butter pan on bottom and sides, line bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to fit inside pan, then butter paper and dust bottom and sides with a bit of almond meal, shake out excess.
  2. In a food processor or coffee grinder, grind almond meal to a fine powder and set aside.
  3. Place the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler, add about 2 inches of water to bottom and warm on medium heat to melt chocolate on top. Cover top with a paper towel to absorb any steam, then cover with lid. As chocolate begins to melt, stir and remove from heat. Let stand, stirring occasionally until completely melted.
  4. Dry bottom of pan so no moisture gets into chocolate and transfer melted chocolate to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
  5. In electric mixer, with paddle attachment, beat butter until soft. Gradually add lavender honey, beating until smooth, then add vanilla and beat a few seconds to combine. Then begin to add egg yolks, two or three at a time, beating after each addition. The mixture will look curdled which will go away after other ingredients are added, so just beat until the yolks are mixed into the butter and honey.
  6. Add melted chocolate and beat until mixed through. Scrape sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add almond meal and beat to mix. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl, the largest you have.
  7. Wash the bowl of the electric mixer well and wipe out with a dash of white vinegar. Now add egg whites and salt to bowl and beat with beater attachment. Beat for approximately 5-7 minutes until just barely stiff, they should stand up straight when the beater is raised.
  8. With a rubber spatula, fold about a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently, fold in a second quarter of the egg whites. Continue to add egg whites, gently folding in to just blend the mixtures. This will make a large amount of batter.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 375 °F for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 °F and bake for an additional 50 minutes (70 minutes total baking time). Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center, it should come out clean.
  10. Turn off the oven and open the door. Let the cake cool in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove it to a wire rack and cool completely. The cake will sink in the center during the cooling.
For Icing
  1. In a heavy saucepan, cook heavy cream over moderate heat until just warm and a wrinkled skin forms on the top.
  2. Add chocolate chips, reduce heat to low and stir with a small wire whisk until smooth. Cool by transferring to a small bowl to stop the cooking and stir occasionally. Icing will slightly thickened.
For whipped cream
  1. Place bowl and beater of electric mixer into refrigerator to chill.
  2. Once cold, add heavy cream, lavender honey and vanilla extract and whip until holds a soft shape but not stiff. Whipped cream can be made ahead, refrigerated and whipped slightly with a wire whisk just before serving.
To Assemble Cake
  1. To remove cake from pan, cover with a wire rack and turn pan over onto the rack. Remove the pan and parchment paper.
  2. Cover cake with another wire rack and turn over again. The cake will most likely not look level on top. With a long, thin, sharp knife trim the top to make level.
  3. Transfer cake to a cake platter or dish. Cut four 10x3 inch strips of wax paper and slide each under one side of the cake to protect the platter from icing as it may drip over the sides of the cake.
  4. Pour the cooled icing over the top of the cake, carefully spreading so that only a small amount drips over the sides of the cake. Spread until top is smooth. Remove the strips of wax paper.
  5. I like to refrigerate the cake so the icing hardens a bit, but you do not have to do this. Serve with big spoonfuls of whipped cream.
Recipe Notes
Lavendar Honey Infusion Methods

Long-Infusion Method
Put lavender into glass jar with lid, pour honey over flowers and stir with a wooden chopstick or popsicle stick. Cover with lid and allow to sit in a cool, dark place for 1-2 weeks. Stir daily with chopstick or popsicle stick. Strain through cheesecloth, squeezing to get as much honey out as possible.

Short Heating Method
Cut 2 pieces of cheesecloth into 6x9 inch rectangles then fold in half, divide lavender into 2 parts and place each in center of folded cheesecloth, fold as a package and tie with kitchen twine. Pour honey into top of double boiler and add lavender packages, tying twine to the handle of the saucepan and cut so none hangs over the edge of pan. Warm 2 inches of water in bottom of pan and lightly simmer for 40 minutes. Do not allow honey to boil or overheat and stir frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool, remove lavender packets. Squeeze packets to get as much honey out as possible. Alternately, lavender flower buds can be added directly to honey and once heating is finished strained through a cheesecloth prior to cooling.

Lavender Honey Already Prepared
Lavender honey already prepared is available for purchase, it is easy to find online and usually costs $10-$20. I found several options on Amazon and it is also sold in specialty food stores, even Whole Foods.

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