Bestia Nera – chocolate flourless cake

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I thank Laura Brody for this divinely intense chocolate truffle cake – it is a dream dessert. She calls it Bête Noir (black beast), but of course I’ve translated it to its Italian equivalent. I’ve made so many that I think I can make it in my sleep. You can serve it practically hot out of the oven, warm with whipped cream (and fresh raspberries), or cooled. It will keep, refrigerated for a week. I like it best when served warm or at room temperature the day it is made, never refrigerated. It will be a HUGE hit!

Serves 8-10

Ingredients for cake
  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 oz. semi-or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 1 1/3 C. sugar
  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 5 eggs at room temperature
  • 9-inch cake pan
  • Parchment paper
Ingredients for ganache topping
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces


Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven

  1. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and place a circle of parchment on the bottom, covering it completely. Butter the paper.
  2. Place both chocolates in the bowl of the food processor and process until the chocolate is in tiny pieces.
  3. Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil.
  4. Crack the eggs into a measuring cup or a small bowl with a spout.
  5. With the processor on, add the boiling sugar syrup to the chocolate, and then add the butter piece by piece. Add the eggs and process only until the mixture is very smooth. Do not overbeat and create bubbles. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Set the pan into a slightly larger pan. Set both in the oven and pour very hot water into the larger pan (bagno maria).
  6. Bake for 25- 30 min. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then run a sharp knife around the sides to release the cake. Place a serving platter on top of the baking dish and invert the cake onto the platter.


Scald the cream. Off the heat, add the chocolate and stir very gently until smooth. Cool slightly and pour slowly over the cake, smoothing the top with a spatula or butter knife.


  • Heavy cream whipped with a pinch of sugar to chantilly stage
  • Raspberries
  • Fresh mint

Serve thin slices of the bestia nera topped with a dollop of heavy cream and a sprinkle of raspberries, garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Adapted from “Growing up on the Chocolate Diet” by Lora Brody 1985