Weddings, Winners and Chocolate Cake

September 27, 2012(updated on August 30, 2021)


I spent most of last week out in Carmel Valley, helping get ready for my sister’s wedding. I baked cakes, cooked meals for crowds, snuggled with my nephew and picked Meyer lemons from the tree in the backyard.

I had every intention of finding time to post here while I was away, but I was unprepared for just how full the whole experience would be (it didn’t help that I had the stresses of weather delays, missed flights and wayward baggage). My best laid plans went right out the window when I realized that it was far more important for me to soak up all the family time I could instead of gluing myself to my laptop screen. I am so glad I did, too.

Raina and Emmett

The wedding was beautiful and my sister, her kind man and their sweet babe deserved every moment of the love that was heaped upon them from the gathered crowd of friends and family. After a short service under a rustic, flower-laden chuppah, there was food, music and dancing.

Dinner was catered by the taqueria that Andrew has been eating at his entire life, supplemented by vast plates of kale salad. For dessert, there were cookies from a local bakery, as well as the flourless chocolate cakes that I made (I also cooked up a batch of raspberry jam to serve with it. Nothing complements chocolate like raspberries).

flourless chocolate cake

Three years ago (today!), when Scott and I got married, I also baked in the days before the wedding. I knew that the best way to have delicious cake (and not pay a fortune for it) was to make it myself. My mother thought I was insane, but I’ve never regretting spending that time whisking and baking. I was so happy to be able to do the same for Raina.

I made eight flourless chocolate cakes (though only seven made it to the ceremony, one was eaten to crumbs two nights before) in a borrowed kitchen. I packed two springform pans, parchment paper and a hand mixer into my suitcase (which just added to the stress over the missing luggage) and bought the ingredients as a local Safeway when I arrived. With my mom’s help, we managed six cakes on Thursday and squeezed in the last two on Friday.

They are dense, rich, deeply chocolate-y and just the thing to serve at a wedding where you want to celebrate the sweetness of life. You’ll find the recipe after the jump!

Mike, Mo, Raina, Emmett and Bill

I love this picture. It’s my dad and his two brothers (on either side), posing with Raina and Emmett.

Scott and I got back to Philly on Sunday night and I’ve spent the last few days trying to catch up with email and meet deadlines. I’m working on an article for Table Matters about root vegetable soups right now, and so I spent most of today roasting, simmering and pureeing. I’ve been writing some nice little pieces for them of late, if you haven’t clicked over recently and read about versatile baking mixesfruit butters and home-flavored salts.

Giveaway Update

Thanks for all your entries to the My Berlin Kitchen giveaway! The winner is commenter #490. She said, “My favorite food memory would have to be Thursday night dinners I used to throw for friends when we were in college…we’d eat, watch Seinfeld, and just have a good time. I think it was experimenting with cooking in those days that made me feel secure in the kitchen.” What a lovely memory, Courtney!

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Flourless Chocolate Tort


  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate broken into bits
  • 1 cup unsalted butter plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup of Frangelico


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper (this helps prevent the cake from sticking to the pan).
  • Create a double boiler by setting a large glass or stainless steel bowl over a saucepan with 2-3 inches of water in the bottom (the trick to a double boiler is to make sure the bowl is not in contact with the water).
  • Place double boiler over medium high heat. Add chocolate and butter to the bowl and let melt. Whisk together.
  • Once the chocolate and butter are melted, remove the bowl from its perch on the saucepan and place it on a folded kitchen towel on your counter (best not to put a hot bowl directly on your surface). Whisk in the sugar (an electric hand mixer is best, but you can also do it by hand).
  • Break the eggs into a spouted measuring cup and whisk the eggs in one at a time (breaking them into the measuring cup means that you won’t have to put the mixer down each time you need to add an egg).
  • Sift 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder into the batter and gently beat to combine (start on the mixer’s lowest setting and slowly work upwards).
  • Add the Frangelico and mix to combine.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared spring form pan. Gently bang the pan on your counter a few times to remove some of the air bubbles.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Cake is done when the center looks set (shake the pan slightly and look for any sign of a wiggle).
  • Remove cake from oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes before removing it from the spring form pan. When cake is completely cool, wrap it in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready serve. Allow cake to come to room temperature prior to serving.

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20 thoughts on "Weddings, Winners and Chocolate Cake"

  • being a fan of your site before i ever had the profound pleasure of meeting your sister, i’m loving the serendipity of getting to see the shirt i made andrew for the wedding gracing a posted pic here. life is funny and fun. and your sister is gorgeous and awesome. and i love your blog. there it is.

  • I love multi-generation photos. Thank you for the smile this morning.

    Although I don’t have any Frangelico so I can’t run to the kitchen to make this cake, I do appreciate being able to read thru all the tips (eggs in measuring cup) so that when I do have all the ingredients I’ve got a clue.


    1. Kirsten, breaking the eggs into the measuring cup, so that you don’t have to put the mixer down between each egg break, makes it so much easier! I couldn’t not include a tip like that! 🙂 And get yourself some Frangelico, because it really makes the cake extra delicious.

  • I love real and simple weddings. I am getting married in 4 weeks, and we are having a slightly casual, large autumn wedding. Your sister’s looks perfect. That cake looks so delish, as well! Yum!

  • Marisa…happy anniversary! The last few days I’ve been blog stalking in hopes of your tutorial on using 1-piece lids—what a joy to find something from you today that is far better than canning info. That you shared your sister’s sweet wedding with us is an honour and the cake recipe too, awesome! We have a family double-anniversary-birthday gathering coming and now I know exactly what to make for the dessert.

    Have a lovely anniversary with your sweetheart!

  • Congratulations, Raina!

    I baked gingerbread cookies for my wedding. I used a bell-shaped cookie cutter and piped a “crack” in icing (we got married in Philly) and my ultra-traditionalist mother-in-law thought I was crazy.

    Four years later, people still talk about the cookies.

  • Goodness, what a good-looking family! Congrats to all, it is so lovely to get to see mementos from a very happy day. Thanks for sharing them.

  • I love the picture of your sister with her son, they both look so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your recipe.