Kahlua indulgences: a cake that matches your coffee

Photo By: Katie de Heras
Photo By: Katie de Heras
Photo By: Katie de Heras

Some people collect stamps, others collect zippo lighters and others still collect particularly unattractive ceramic animals. I happen to collect coffee pots.

On my dresser I have an electric Italian Moka pot, two french presses and a standard drip coffee maker, along with even more coffee paraphernalia sitting on my Amazon wish list, waiting to be bought. Drinking coffee is practically a spiritual experience for me, and possibly the only thing I care about more than coffee is cake.

Cake and coffee are not ‘sometimes foods’ in my life; both are daily needs that must be sated if I am to continue my existence as a relatively productive college student, or at least one who fakes it well. I begin and end my day with espresso, and a dinner without cake is no dinner at all. Therefore, it only seemed reasonable that I would combine two of the most important things in my life to create one particularly decadent cake.

This cake is somewhat of my own devising. Though I had seen a recipe that called for most of the ingredients I had, I never follow a recipe correctly when I can make things up and hope for the best.

I’ve always been fond of flourless cakes, because they are richer by far than their flour-filled cousins. Chocolate flourless cakes are among the easier types of flour-free cakes to make, because cocoa powder can act to solidify the cake when there is no flour and the melted chocolate acts in much the same way.

Though it initially looks like chocolate scrambled eggs, it bakes up into a dense, rich single layer cake, although it would be entirely possible to bake up several layers and frost with plain whipped cream.

Because the cake is so dense, I would hesitate to frost with a sugary icing and would instead go with topping it with fresh fruit or preserves. I ultimately chose not to adorn the cake at all, instead allowing the chocolate-alcohol-coffee combination to speak for itself. My baking style is very minimalist; I  am not a proponent of butter creams or heavy toppings as a general rule, and I think it is vitally important that the main body of a baked good be able to stand up to taste-testing on its own.

This cake ended up as one of the best flour-free cakes I’ve ever made. It is difficult for it to be otherwise, since this particular cake is pumped full of bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder and a hearty dosing of Kahlua. One might as well call it the ‘what more could you possibly ask for in life?’ cake.

However, it was not always smooth sailing: While I was throwing sugar, melted chocolate, eggs and cocoa powder together with only a vague idea that I wanted a perfect marriage of coffee flavored alcohol and cake, in a dormitory oven that is finicky at best and a potential fire-hazard at worst, I honestly thought that it would end in disaster. When I poured the batter into the cake tin, the batter was so thick that I could hold it upside down and it would not drip, but that is what ultimately led to the super rich, moist texture that good flour free cakes should have.

However, regardless of these setbacks, I always make sure to finish what I start when it comes to baking. Baking is something to which I dedicate a huge amount of time and energy, and I think it is absolutely essential that I do not give up on my creations simply because I am worried about failure. Baking can serve as a metaphor for how I live my life; in some ways, my dedication of time and energy into baking mirrors how much time I put into the other aspects of my life. While this attitude of never giving up on a dish until it has proved entirely inedible has led to some less than perfect results in the past, this time it was more than worth it; I got a sweet treat that people said was tasty, even though it was flour-free, and I discovered a new and wonderful recipe to add to my large and perpetually growing collection of recipes for bad-for-me foods.

Ultimately, the cake ended up being perfectly delectable and almost fudgy in consistency. I would have been much more pleased had the taste of the Kahlua been more prominent and I realize, now, that a larger measurement is necessary to bring a strong enough coffee flavor to the cake.  A simple sugar made with espresso would probably be a beneficial addition to the batter the next time I make this kind of cake, but for those who are not coffee aficionados, this cake is perfect. It’s gluten free,  made almost entirely of pure chocolate and butter, and it is kosher for Passover. It covers almost all of the basic needs of a good dessert, and I have every intention of making it again in the very near future.


The Recipe


1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

5 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

1 stick of butter

3/4 cocoa powder

1/4 cup Kahlua


1. Preheat oven to 375°F

2. Cut chocolate into small chunks and melt in a double boiler or microwave safe bowl

3. Melt butter and combine butter and chocolate.

4. Add sugar and whisk until combined.

5. Whisk in three eggs until combined.

6. Add cocoa powder and stir until just combined.

7. If desired, dust cake with cocoa powder or top with whipped cream.


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