Boca Negra Chocolate Cake

This is my favorite chocolate cake.  Because when you’re having chocolate cake, you should go all out and really have chocolate cake. A serving of this cake is about as much chocolate as is humanly possible to eat at a time. I guess that’s why it’s called boca negra, as in “black mouth.” (I realize that it’s not really the most appetizing translation, so use the Spanish name, or be really fancy and call it a bouche noire cake.)

Most “flourless” chocolate cakes rely on whipped egg whites to do the leavening, lifting the chocolate into a puff that settles and cracks while cooling. This is why they are sometimes called “soufflé” cakes.  That’s great, and I make chocolate cakes like that once in a while, but egg whites make the cake drier and crispier.

cake pan boca negra boca negra cake pan

This cake is the opposite of that. It’s not quite flourless — just over a tablespoon is used for all 12 servings. But instead of puffing up the cake with whipped egg whites, it opts to go for a dense, creamy, velvety texture.

A baker will often tell you to use room temperature eggs and butter, and they’re usually right but cheating a bit is usually fine. If I’m in a hurry, I put the eggs in a bowl of warm water and change the water a few times to take the chill off. And I’ll just smash the butter with my fingers until it softens. But you shouldn’t cheat with this cake. Make sure your butter and eggs are fully at room temperature — that’s what ensures an amazing texture.

boca negra

This recipe comes from one of my go-to baking books, Baking with Julia. In the book, it’s served with a bourbon-spiked white chocolate cream that must be made the day before. I’ve included it here because it’s definitely worth trying, but I prefer this with ice cream or crème anglaise (aka melted ice cream).

boca negra

As for the bourbon, I love how it subtly complements the chocolate, but it’s also optional. Substituting coffee works well. Or orange juice, or a good tea. Other alcoholic options are rum, framboise (raspberry liqueur), or even Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur).

Boca Negra Chocolate Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An intensely decadent chocolate cake. Use good chocolate that you really like, because this is all about the chocolate. That said, the flavor can be changed by substituting the bourbon for another liquid — coffee, rum, or pulp-free orange juice, framboise, chai tea, and earl grey tea all work well.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
For the optional white chocolate cream:
  • 12 ounces (340 g) white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) bourbon
For the cake:
  • 12 ounces (340 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 and ⅓ cups (268 g) sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) bourbon
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks or 227 g) butter, room temperature and cut into 10 pieces
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1.5 Tbsp (12 g) all-purpose flour
To make the optional cream (the day before):*
  1. Put the chopped chocolate into a blender or the work bowl of a food processor.
  2. Heat the cream just until it begins to boil.
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and blend/process until smooth.
  4. Stir in the bourbon.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.
For the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 (177 C).
  2. Prepare a 9-inch cake pan. First cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Then, butter the pan without the parchment circle in it, place the parchment circle in the bottom of the pan, and butter that as well.
  3. Find a ovensafe roasting pan/dish that your cake pan can fit into. Heat some water to boiling (this will be for a water bath in which the cake is baked).
  4. Put the chopped chocolate into a blender or the work bowl of a food processor.
  5. Heat the sugar and bourbon to a full boil in a saucepan.
  6. Pour the hot sugar/bourbon mixture over the chocolate and blend/process until smooth.
  7. With the blender/processor running, add the butter one piece at a time. Then add the eggs one at a time. Then add the flour and blend/process for another 15 seconds or so.
  8. Pour the mixture into your prepared cake pan. Set the cake pan in the roasting/baking dish and pour hot water around the cake pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the pan.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes. At this point the top of the cake should have a dry crust on top.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven, take it out of the water bath, and dry the pan with a towel. Cover the top of the cake with plastic wrap and invert the cake onto a sheet pan or flat plate.
  11. Remove the pan from the cake. Carefully peel off the parchment paper. Now carefully invert the cake again onto a serving platter. Remove the plastic wrap and let the cake cool.
  12. The cake can should be served at room temperature or slightly warm. It will keep just fine for several days at room temperature. Serve with the optional white chocolate cream or ice cream, crème anglaise, or sweetened whipped cream.
* This cream is totally optional. This cake tastes great on its own, or with a bit of ice cream, crème anglaise (i.e. melted ice cream), or sweetened whipped cream. This cream is really interesting, however, and worth a try to see if you like it.


boca negra

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