Chocolate Ugly Cake 2

Let me tell you up front that if you made all sorts of New Year’s Resolutions to stay away from sugar, chocolate, or desserts, then you might want to click away from here and come back another day. Don’t get me wrong, I love that y’all stopped by and I definitely want you to come back. But the dessert that I am sharing today is very decadent, very chocolatey, and very, very tempting. Far be it from me to tempt you if you are trying to make a lifestyle change.

But if you are like me and an everything-in-moderation kind of person, then welcome! This cake is incredible.

Attractive? Not really. But definitely incredible. Hubby & I used to frequent this great, old Victorian mansion-turned-restaurant in the city. Gorgeous place with warm, period decor. The food was good, but the dessert was nothing short of amazing. And the desserts always came with coffee with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. I thought that was so sweet. Our favorite dessert was a flourless chocolate cake called Chocolate Ugly Cake: a thin wedge of creamy chocolate without adornment. It was ugly, but delicious.

Fast forward several years, several children, and a whole lot less discretionary income. Dining at former mansions was no longer on my radar, which I really don’t mind a bit. But I did mourn the Chocolate Ugly Cake. I called once to see if they would share the recipe, which of course they wouldn’t.

Fine. Be that way.

So I played around a bit with various recipes, and came up with my own version of Chocolate Ugly Cake. And you know what? I like it better. Take that fancy-recipe-hoarding-mansion-turned-restaurant. :)

This post has a lot of pictures and instruction. While I admit that the recipe may seem involved, it’s really not difficult. You can do it!

Here’s what you’ll need:

9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 C. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

½ C. (scant) granulated sugar

1 Tbs. brandy, raspberry or orange liquor (OR 2 tsp. vanilla extract)

5 eggs (at room temperature)

1 Tbs. all-purpose flour

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. This recipe calls for a 9-inch spring form pan which has removable sides. If you don’t have one, you can use a 9-inch deep dish pie plate, but you’ll have to adjust the baking time and serve it straight out of the pie plate.

To prep the spring form pan, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside. Grease the bottom and inside of the pan. Place the parchment circle on the bottom of the greased pan, then grease the top of the parchment.

Wrap the bottom and sides of the spring form with a double layer of aluminum foil. Set it aside. Phew! The pan is ready.

On to the butter! You knew that butter had to be involved, right? It is. In a big way. Unwrap 2 sticks of unsalted butter. Cut it lengthwise with a sharp knife.

Give the stick a quarter turn, and cut it again lengthwise. The second cut will be perpendicular to the first.

Which gives you 4 mini-sticks of butter. Cut those widthwise.

You should have a nice pile of 1/2 inch cubes. Repeat that the process with the other stick of butter.

Grab the chocolate. I like to use semi-sweet baking chocolate. It’s tasty, and this particular brand is the only one that I have found that isn’t processed with peanuts or tree nuts. (I don’t bake or cook anything that isn’t safe for Son #2 to enjoy.)

Give the chocolate a rough chop. You could use a fancier chocolate, but I don’t recommend using too dark of a chocolate, and definitely don’t use chocolate chips. The wax that helps the chocolate chips retain their shape will melt and pool in weird patterns on the finished cake.  Eewww.

Measure a scant cup of granulated sugar. See how the measuring cup isn’t quite full to the brim? That is “scant.”

Put the butter cubes, chopped chocolate, and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Turn the heat on low, and stay close.

Go back to the sauce pot and see how everything is progressing. Once the butter and chocolate are about half melted, start stirring. Stir constantly until the mixture seems completely melted and well combined.

Stirring constantly during the melting process will help the sugar crystals to dissolve. Once the butter and chocolate have melted, turn off the heat. Check to see if the sugar has melted completely. Look for granules on the spoon. You can see a few specks on my spoon. If that happens, just stir the melted mixture for another minute.

Stir in the vanilla extract, OR the adult beverage of choice. Since I was taking this cake to a party, I stirred in a bit of Chambourd, which is a raspberry liqueur. Most of the time, I just use vanilla.  Set the chocolatey goodness aside for a few minutes to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Set a kettle of water to boil–you’ll need it in a minute.

While you are waiting for the chocolate mixture to cool off a bit, whip the eggs for about a minute until they are light and fluffy.

I know that I have told you before that I never sift flour. Ever. Well, this is one of the few exceptions. Sift the flour into the eggs, and whip it in until incorporated.

The eggs will be nice and frothy and free of any big clumps of flour.

Pour in a spoonful or two of the semi-cooled chocolate mixture, stirring constantly as you do so. This will temper the eggs so that you (hopefully) don’t end up with scrambled eggs in your cake. Starting with eggs that are at room temperature will help the tempering process along.

Slowly pour the tempered eggs into the chocolate mixture, stirring swiftly and constantly as you do so. Again, we don’t want scrambled eggs, so this has to be done fairly quickly.

The mixture will have thickened but still be smooth after the addition of the tempered eggs.

Pour the batter into the prepared spring form pan. Set the pan inside of a larger roasting pan.

Place the roasting pan with the cake in it onto the rack in the preheated oven. Carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes 1 inch up the sides of the spring form pan. (We don’t want any water splashing on the cake or in the foil.)  This is called a bain marie, or water bath. The moisture from the water bath will help the cake to cook more slowly and evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until the edges of the cake are beginning to dry, but the center is still pretty soft. See this one? This was taken after 25 minutes in my oven. The edges are perfect, but center is still a bit too soupy. I left it to bake for another 5 minutes.

This is the cake after 30 minutes in the oven–a little too done. A few cracks around the edges is normal, but this one cracked a bit in the middle. I should have taken it out after an additional 3 minutes. More water in the bath might have helped, too. No worries! It’s supposed to be Chocolate Ugly Cake! And it will taste just fine.

Remove the cake from the water bath, and allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the spring form. Then carefully unwrap the foil over a sink so that any seepage will drain into the sink, as opposed to running all over the counter. The water will be hot! Release the sides of the pan.

Invert the cake onto a lined cooling rack. Here’s a little trick. Place the parchment on top of the cake, and the rack on top of the parchment. Pick up both sides of the pan and the rack at the same time and give it a quick flip.

Remove the bottom of the pan.

Then peel off the parchment that was lining the pan.

If a little water seeped into the pan during baking, gently blot it away with a paper towel. Allow cake to cool completely on the wire rack. It’ll take a few hours.

Once cake has completely cooled, place your serving plate on top, and grasp both sides of the rack and plate. Then do a quick flip.

Remove the rack and parchment paper. Ta-da! I told you it would be ugly. But trust me, it is really good. The fancy mansion-turned-restaurant sliced it up, and serve it just like that. I know! And people loved it!

But that just goes against any sensibilities that I have about serving food that is visually appealing, so I sifted some powdered sugar and sprinkled some yellow raspberries over the top. Red raspberries work too–I just happened to find the yellow ones.

Serve it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, if you are feeling a little sassy.

Chocolate Ugly Cake is not very tall. It’s not very cute. But it is very rich and delicious.

Chocolate Ugly Cake

16 servings


9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 C. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

½ C. (scant) granulated sugar

1 Tbs. brandy or orange liquor (OR 2 tsp. vanilla extract)

5 eggs (at room temperature)

1 Tbs. all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar for dusting

Whipped cream for serving

Fresh raspberries are a nice garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Generously grease a 9” x 2” spring form pan.
  3. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then grease the paper.
  4. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with 2 layers of aluminum foil to prevent seepage.
  5. Melt butter, sugar, and chocolate over low heat.
  6. Cool slightly and stir in the liquor.
  7. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs for 1 minute.
  8. Add flour to eggs, and mix until well blended.
  9. Slowly stir chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, until well blended.
  10. Place spring form pan into a large roasting pan.
  11. Add enough boiling water into the roasting pan, so it comes ¾ the way up the side of the spring form pan.  I *highly* recommend doing this with the roasting pan already on the oven rack.
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edge of the cake is set but the center is slightly soft. (On the firmer side, not so soft like a mud puddle.)
  13. Remove spring for from the roasting pan and remove foil.
  14. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
  15. Remove the side of the spring form and turn cake onto a wire rack that has been covered in parchment paper.
  16. Lift off the pans base, and carefully remove the parchment paper from the inside of the pan.
  17. Cool completely.
  18. To serve, invert the cake onto a level plate.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Top individual slices with whipped cream, and garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.


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  1. says

    oooh…I will have to try this…I tend to neglect chocolate a little as I get so wrapped up in caramel or fruit desserts most of the time…but this looks lovely and simple!
    cathy b. @ brightbakes

    • says

      See, I am just the opposite. I get so wrapped up in chocolate that sometimes I neglect the fruit desserts. Unless I can pick it myself in the summertime, of course. Then fruit practically begs to become dessert.

  2. says

    I love you so much. The Complete Package took me to Paris for our 25th wedding anniversary, and we had something like this for dessert…twice. We both loved it. They served it with a vanilla custard sauce on the side. And now you’ve gone and figured out how to make it. I can’t thank you enough!

  3. says

    I love chocolate so much I’m not sure I could ever call anything chocolate “ugly” :) Also love how you came up with your own version of the fancy restaurant dessert. Way to go!

  4. says

    This looks delish! I will have to make this. I have been wanting to try my luck with the spring form pan. That is one of my baking resolutions. I have all these wonderful goals for cooking in the new year instead of the new years resolutions.


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