An impressive but easy recipe for a gluten-free flourless chocolate cake topped with cacao nibs and a chocolate caramel espresso sauce.
divided plus more for coating the pan
separated, room temperature
or whipped cream, for garnish
For the caramel sauce: Stir together the 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely moistened. Brush the insides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar granules then place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
Without stirring but swirling the pan occasionally, let the sugar boil until it turns turns amber in color, about 5 minutes. Give the pan a few good swirls to make sure it’s evenly cooking, remove from heat. Immediately add 1 cup of the cream, 4 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons of coffee powder or instant espresso and swirl until the caramel is smooth and uniform in color. Return to heat and bring to boil, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the 4 ounces of chocolate, 1 tablespoon of the vanilla, and the pinch of flaky salt and cook the sauce over low heat, whisking, until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat, and set aside until ready to use.
Caramel sauce can be made up to 4 days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and warm over low heat before using.
For the cake: Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (so cake will slide easily onto serving plate) and line with a parchment round; then coat the parchment with the extra butter. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and remaining 6 ounces of chocolate, stirring until smooth, in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.
Beat together the 6 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of the espresso powder and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt; beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 tablespono of vanilla and melted-chocolate mixture; beat about 1 minute more.
In another bowl, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Increase speed to high; gradually add remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold into the chocolate mixture in 3 parts. Transfer batter to pan and bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove side of pan; transfer cake to a serving plate. Serve caramel sauce alongside cake topped with whipped creme fraiche (or cream) and cacao nibs, as desired.
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