Fearless and Flourless…reflections related to a chocolate bourbon cake for all seasons



Gluten-free, Gluten sensitive, and gluten intolerant as in those with Celiac Disease…had nothing to do with the development of my Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Reflections on just how I got there…

In 1997 I was hold up (not held up) – in an office out in Troy, Michigan, about 35 minutes from the historic farmhouse, I called home. A company out of California had hired me to edit a series of regional cookbooks of Chef’s recipes – they wanted me working in a designated office instead of the comfort of my home…not a typical request for this freelancer.

It was an interesting job, paid well, and it involved food – what could be bad? What I wasn’t privy to initially, was I would be working on pre-written recipes that were not being tested – an unfamiliar process to me, and I wasn’t a fan of doing things quite that way.

I wasn’t writing the book or the recipes, I was editing and looking for errors and solutions to repair the submitted Chef’s recipes that made no sense or had issues. While I expressed my concern about the lack of recipe testing, they didn’t seem to be concerned. And, then came the recipes – a third of them arrived on napkins, menu backs or scraps of paper — there were a ton of these to do and it was arduous! Midway through this lengthy project, I got a call from a company in Massachusetts. They were working with a company that was producing a three-volume set of books with a 1,000 recipes. A close friend was working on this project – and had thrown my name in (Thanks to my dear friend DeeDee Stovel) to do another category of this series. This call from Massachusetts and commitment to this upcoming job, got me through the one out in Troy.

The challenge for the new job – I was asked to do all the cake and pie recipes. When I explained to the company that I was not a pastry chef – they calmly asked, “can you do it?” Of course I said yes – the money was great, it was a long term project, and it was going to be a personal challenge. The next hurdle was telling my husband I was going to have to purchase thousands of dollars worth of equipment – I didn’t have hardly a thing in the baking arena – it wasn’t really my area of expertise. My very supportive husband asked only one question – “will it be worth it?” My one word response of “yes” was all he needed, and I was off and running purchasing every possible cake pan, pie plates and assorted baking smalls that existed. LA FORME became my favorite word…and a great product, I might add.

I had a blast on that project – there were so many desserts made out of my kitchen for two years that my hairdresser would hold up his hands making the sign of a cross warding off the baking vampire when I entered the salon loaded down with some of the goodies. I couldn’t give away as much as I was making…and we certainly couldn’t consume it all nor did we want to. And, did I learn to bake!

One of my very favorite assignments during this ‘Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs’ project was to make a Flourless Chocolate Cake – and so I did! I laced it with Maker’s Mark Bourbon and made it rich and deep in flavor. It became a special cake for holidays, birthdays, or special events – for me, and for those that purchased the 1,000+ page tome.

In celebration of my 35-year marriage to that same supportive husband, I decided to make one of my Flourless Chocolate Cakes…once I put the final photo on Facebook – I was flooded with requests for the recipe.

As I stated initially, this recipe was prior to the Gluten-free concerns of today, but it has NO FLOUR – thus, it is gluten free. I do give you two options for nuts as a garnish…I actually like the look of the Pecan halves…but make your choice. If you don’t like nuts or have allergies, leave them off…you can always add whipped cream!

Enjoy my recipe and don’t be alarmed from what appears to be quite a few steps – it really isn’t difficult and well worth it!

Beautiful final photo of The Flourless Chocolate Cake

Final photo of The Flourless Chocolate Cake

RMJ’s Flourless Chocolate Cake with Bourbon
This rich and delicious cake is perfect for special occassions – sounds like a lot of steps, but well worth it!! Please read Cook’s Notes: at bottom of recipe.

Yield: Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients for the Cake:
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (preferably Kerrygold, if possible)
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (good quality chips or bittersweet chocolate)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (preferably Dutch process)
5 eggs
1/3 cup bourbon (I use Maker’s Mark)

Ingredients for the Glaze and Garnish:
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (preferably Kerrygold, if possible), cut into Tablespoons
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (good quality chips or bittersweet chocolate)
1 cup chopped pecans or enough pecan halves (all about the same size and shape) to cover the top of the cake.

Special Equipment:
8-inch round cake pan (I used an 8-inch round heavy Calphalon baking pan)
2 circles of parchment paper cut to fit the pan
Roasting pan
Circle of cardboard cut to fit the pan
Small offset spatula

Directions for the Cake:
Grease an 8-inch round baking pan with butter; line bottom with a disk of parchment. Place oven rack to middle position; preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a medium-size saucepan, combine the water, sugar and salt. Set saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Turn off heat.

In a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, about 6 minutes. Stir well to mix until smooth.

Over the saucepan of water and sugar mixture, gradually sift the cocoa, whisking as you sift. Whisk until smooth and all ingredients are combined, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the butter and chocolate mixture. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, about 30 seconds after each addition.

Add the bourbon and whisk in until smooth and well mixed, about 30 seconds.
Turn the flourless batter into the prepared pan and place into a roasting pan. Carefully pour 1-inch of water around the filled pan.

Bake the cake for 45 minutes, until the cake is firm to the touch and appears slightly puffed up. Remove pan carefully from water and place on a wire rack; cool completely in pan, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Cover cooled cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to set.

When ready to glaze, place cake pan over a burner set on low heat and shift back and forth for about 10-20 seconds, just to release cake easily. Remove from heat and invert on a parchment covered circle of cardboard. Peel off top piece of parchment.

Directions for the Glaze:
In a double boiler over hot water, melt the chocolate, about 2 minutes. Add the butter, one Tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat and continue until all the pieces of butter are melted and glaze is smooth (return to heat if mixture is not hot enough to melt), about 20 to 30 seconds per addition. (Glaze should appear thick enough to cover, but not too thick so it will be hard to cover the cake).

With a small offset spatula, cover the sides of the cake with the glaze. Use remaining glaze to cover the top, by spooning on and spreading with the spatula. If desired, Press chopped pecans on sides and then cover the top – or leave sides with chocolate glaze only and place pecan halves on top as shown in the photograph.

A photo reminder of what the cake should look like

A photo reminder of what the cake should look like

Cook’s Notes:
• If you don’t own a double boiler, use a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of hot or barely
simmering water.
• This cake can be made several days in advance – wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep refrigerated.
Glaze it the day you plan on serving it.
• If glaze gets too thick, return it to the heat for just a moment or two.
• When finished glazing the cake, slip it off the cardboard onto a pretty serving plate.


  1. Donna Bardocz says:

    This is on my must make list Ruth! I will be trying this for sure!

    • RMJ says:

      Great Donna – you will love it….just don’t enter it into a contest.LOL

  2. suzi says:

    ruth, do you have experience with substituting for vegan recipes? this has a lot of eggs and i would love to try it with flax meal egg substitute and coconut oil for butter. what do you think? maybe i should try experimenting with a half recipe. thought i would ask the expert/artist!! thanks!!

    • RMJ says:

      Suzi – not sure it will work — the eggs really do the job on this….experiment and let me know!!!

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