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I live 3000+ miles from my parents and have only been home in December once since 1997. As a result, I have only been able to celebrate my Mom’s birthday with her one time in that span. (In person, that is.) Since her special day falls on the shortest day, daylight-wise, it’s been a tradition for as long as I can remember to celebrate on her actual birthday and then a bit more the next day. This year, my long-distance party will include a cake I made in her honor. I plan to eat one piece today and one more tomorrow. Perhaps I will continue the celebration for several days more, because this is cake is really delicious.

I chose to make a Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange & Cardamom because it’s a flavor combination that always makes me think of Mom. As kids, we often bought her chocolate-covered orange sticks as a present; the flavor of the cake evokes a memory of those candies. Cardamom as an ingredient is a bonus, as it immediately makes me think of Mom’s mom and some of our traditional sweets from her side of the family. If I’m remembering correctly, Mom shares my preference for cakes that are not smothered in frosting, obviously the case here. The cake is rich and very decadent, but comes together easily. The consistency is somewhere between a gooey brownie and a fudgy cake and there’s a crispy top layer that is so satisfying to crunch through. The chocolate flavor is most prominent but the orange shines through; the cardamom is not recognizable (to me) but lends a warm spice note, almost like gingerbread. What a beautiful dessert this would be for a holiday dinner or other special occasion! Oranges and other citrus fruits are plentiful and good this time of year, so it’s seasonally appropriate, too. You could decorate the top with candied orange peel and/or sugared cranberries and have a show-stopper.

So, regardless of the distance, I will have a big smile on my face all day today (and tomorrow), thinking of my Mom, how wonderful she is– caring, funny, thoughtful, quick with a hug or a kind word, smart as a whip, the best baker in town and certainly the best mom in the world! I hope you’ll join me in wishing her a happy birthday; someday I am going to make this cake when we’re together and share a big slice with her. I love you, Mom!

flourless chocolate cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange & Cardamom (adapted from food52)

  • 10 oz. semisweet chocolate (use bittersweet or a mix, if you like)
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 tsp. cardamom, freshly ground if you can
  • 8 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • confectioners’ sugar to dust the top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; liberally grease a 9″ cake pan.

In a large glass bowl over a simmering pot of water (or a double boiler), melt the chocolate; remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Add the cardamom and orange zest.

In a mixing bowl, whip the butter until creamy and then add the sugar; cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until the batter is airy. Fold in the chocolate mixture just until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 mins. Let cool for at least 10 mins. before carefully removing from the pan. Serve with whipped cream, berries, a dusting of powdered sugar or all three.

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