Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake

Birthday Cake 2020 is a Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake. It’s a very rich cake, intense with deep chocolate flavors, smooth and velvety. It’s also fairly easy to make and it’s flourless (yes, gluten-free). It’s a lovely way to celebrate my and my husband’s birthdays.

Matt is the guy who claimed to not like dessert when we first met, but now will eat cookies for breakfast. The guy who holds my sweaty hand any time of day and night, and supports me unconditionally. The guy who’s the best designer I’ve ever met, and his eye for beauty is unparalelled (ahem). The guy who my entire family loves to their cores, and he loves them right back. The guy who gives me butterflies and joy. And the guy who really, really likes chocolate truffles.

So this year’s birthday cake is a very luxurious truffle cake. One forkful tastes like a dark chocolate truffle. It’s pure chocolate decadence, not marred by nuts or liqueurs or fruit or crunchy toppings (all of which I love, but there’s a time and place for everything). It’s made with very few but very high-quality ingredients: dark chocolate (spring for the best kind you can afford), salted butter (French, if you please), eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder – which is made into a coffee syrup (with water, sugar, and salt) and further intensifies the rich chocolate flavor.

I topped our cake with cocoa powder and edible flowers, but it would also pair very well with fresh berries and whipped cream, or a sprinkling of flaky sea salt. Best served cold (after chilling overnight), with a glass of red wine (or milk for breakfast).

Yield: serves 12

Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake

A decadent, gluten-free, and dense chocolate cake that taste like dark chocolate truffles

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


3/4 cup salted butter, plus 1 tablespoon more for greasing pan (I used Trader Joe's Cultured Salted Butter)
1/2 cup water, plus more for water bath
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon espresso powder (I used King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder)
14 oz dark chocolate (I used Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips)
6 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for garnish (optional)
edible fresh and/or dried flowers for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and generously grease with melted butter (1 tablespoon). Set aside.
  3. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine water, salt, sugar, and espresso poweder. Whisk continously until sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  4. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add chocolate. Heat for 1 minute, stir, and heat again in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. I ended up heating everything for a total of 2 minutes.
  5. Scrape melted chocolate in a bowl of a standing mixer.
  6. Divide the butter into two-inch knobs (around two tablespoons) and beat into chocolate, one piece at a time.
  7. Add in coffee mixture and whisk until combined.
  8. Beat in eggs one at a time, until batter is smooth and glossy.
  9. Pour batter in greased cake pan.
  10. Prepare a water bath. Get a larger pan (I used a disposable foil roasting pan and placed that on top of a cookie sheet to support the weight). Put the round cake pan in the middle and fill the larger pan with hot water, until it reaches halfway up the sides of pan. Be careful! 
  11. Bake cake in water bath for 45 minutes.
  12. Remove cake from water bath and let it come to room temperate on a wire rack.
  13. Chill overnight (very important to set the cake). After chilling the cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.
  14. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish accordingly, and serve chilled. 

The water bath ensure even baking, and gives the cake the dense, velvety texture.

Recipe inspired by King Arthur Flour's Flourless Chocolate Cake and Joy Food Sunshine's Best Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Happy birthday, too, to two of my best friends Jop and Lora, my cousin Chichi, and my mother-in-law Ann – I’m lucky to share the date with this crew.

And most of all, happy birthday to my husband, Matt! Thank you for being my best friend / life mate / travel partner / cuddle buddy / plant daddy / bottle opener / baseball enemy / mac to my cheese / butter to my bread / love of my life. Cheers to another sweet year ahead.


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