Valentine's Day Chocolate Cloud Cake

February 16, 2021


There were a few requests for the Chocolate Cloud Cake recipe I made on Valentine’s Day so here you go. It’s from a fantastic book, Classic Home Desserts, by the late Richard Sax. This was one of the first cookbooks I bought upon moving to NYC, soon after I caught the cooking bug and right before going to cooking school. I was working at Cartier at the time, in their beautiful flagship building on Fifth and 52nd, and liked baking treats for my coworker to share during our lunch breaks. It was my first attempt at Cloud Cake and, happily, everyone came back on the sales floor raving about how fabulous it was.

Classic Home Desserts was published in the 90’s and Richard Sax was a star in the world of food publishing; a well-respected and prolific recipe-tester and food writer, who had a column in Bon Appetit and contributed to many other magazines and newspapers. He wrote several cookbooks but this is the book he is best known for. He spent a decade researching all 350 recipes and his dedication and passion were rewarded with both a James Beard Foundation Award and a Julia Child Cookbook Award. Richard Sax sadly died way too young, at the age of 46, from HIV.

Classic Home Desserts made the list of best selling cookbooks for years but has since fallen off the radar. It’s out of print but I see there are used copies available online of both this edition and a reprint, which happens to feature the Cloud Cake on the cover! Little did I know this recipe was to become the one the book is best know for.  “These are the desserts made at home by mothers and grandmothers rather than professional pastry chefs” the author wrote.  M.F.K. Fisher, one of the finest American food writers commented, “More a story of the true pleasures of real dessert-making than anything yet written.”  Filled with enduring, uncomplicated, delicious homespun recipes, there are many gems to be discovered so I encourage you to find a copy and get baking!

Chocolate Cloud Cake

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
6 large eggs; 2 whole, 4 separated
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon cognac or Grand Marnier

Whipped Cream Topping
1 ½ cups heavy cream, well-chilled
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with wax paper; do not butter pan. Melt the chocolate in double boiler. Remove from the heat and whisk in butter until melted; set aside.

In a bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs and the 4 egg yolks with ½ cup of the sugar just until blended. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in the cognac or Grand Marnier.

In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the 4 egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and beat until whites form soft mounds that hold their shape but are not quite stiff. Stir about ¼ of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it; gently fold in the remaining whites. Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top.

Bake until the top of cake is puffed and cracked and center is no longer wobbly, usually 35 – 40 M. Do not overbake.

Cook the cake in the pan on a wire rack; the cake will sink as it cooks, forming a crater with high sides.

Whipped Cream Topping

At serving time, whip the cream with confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until not quite stiff.  With a spatula, carefully fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, pushing it gently to the edges. Dust the top with cocoa powder. Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cake; carefully remove the sides of the pan and serve.

Makes one 8-inch single layer cake; serves 8 - 12

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