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Flourless Chocolate-Pecan Cake

Photo: Thomas J. Story

Total time 2 hrs

Serves 8 to 12

Oakland chef Tanya Holland puts a Southern spin on this classic Passover cake. It will rise as it bakes, and then sink rather dramatically in the center. Don't worry about this--just trim the top with a large serrated knife and save the pieces for snacks.


  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (63% or 64% cacao), chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp. roasted pecan, almond, or walnut oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 cup lightly toasted pecans or almonds or 2/3 cup purchased nut flour*
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 to 4 large, firm oranges
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Nutrition Information

  • calories 575
  • caloriesfromfat 54 %
  • protein 5.6 g
  • fat 34 g
  • satfat 12 g
  • carbohydrate 63 g
  • fiber 1.2 g
  • sodium 148 mg
  • cholesterol 148 mg

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 325° with a rack in the middle. Grease a 9-in. springform pan and line with parchment paper, cut to fit.

  2. Heat chocolate in a double boiler or metal bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water until about half-melted. Remove pan from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in oil. Cool slightly; stir in 2 tsp. vanilla.

  3. Grind pecans and 1 tbsp. granulated sugar in a food processor in 2 batches, pulsing so you don't end up with pecan butter (you'll have some larger pieces). With a medium-mesh sifter, sift to yield 2/3 cup pecan flour.

  4. Zest 2 oranges with a 5-holed zester; juice enough oranges to yield 1 1/4 cups juice.

  5. Using a mixer, beat egg yolks and brown sugar in a medium bowl until mixture is pale and, when beaters are lifted, falls in thick ribbons, 5 minutes. Beat in 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. orange juice (mixture will get more liquidy). Gently fold in pecan flour. Fold in chocolate mixture.

  6. In another bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Gradually rain in 7 tbsp. granulated sugar; beat into soft peaks, 3 minutes. Gently fold half of egg whites into chocolate mixture; then fold in remaining whites.

  7. Pour batter into pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with crumbs adhering, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let cool on a rack (it will sink a lot).

  8. Make glaze: In a large frying pan, boil remaining orange juice, 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, and the zest over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, 10 minutes. Sift powdered sugar into juice and whisk smooth. Let cool 5 minutes, then whisk in remaining 1 tsp. vanilla.

  9. Let cake cool, then run a heated thin metal spatula (heat under hot water, then dry with a towel) around inside of pan.

  10. Remove rim of pan. Starting from edge and working toward center, carefully trim uneven top layer from cake using a large serrated knife. Invert cake onto a plate.

  11. Cut cake with a heated knife, wiping between slices. Drizzle slices with glaze.

  12. *Find nut flours at (pecan flour is called "meal").

Cook's Notes

Recipe is gluten-free with gluten-free powdered sugar.