B. Y. O. D. (Bring Your Own Dessert)

Have you ever gone to a dinner party and arrived with your own dessert in hand?

Maybe it's bad manners, rude or downright selfish, but this is something I do on a regular basis. (Although I always clear it with the hostess first...I'm not that presumptuous!) And I did it again last Friday night when we went to dinner with a few other couples at a steakhouse.

Now before you start shaming me, let me say that David and I frequent this steakhouse in San Antonio a lot. And have for many years. We're "regulars." On special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, they have come to expect me to bring my own dessert. (But I do share the cake with the wait and management staff, so there.)

So for the dinner party, I made two cakes. A decadent flourless chocolate cake and a light, flourless orange cake made with agave nectar.

Now, granted there is a little selfishness involved. Have you ever heard of a pastry chef that makes desserts without a lot of sugar and no flour? I didn't think so. So, that's the main reason I make and take my own desserts most everywhere I go. Plus, I've got an incredible sweet tooth and I am a born baker and love sharing good stuff with people I love.

For me, this bring-your-own-dessert concept is similar to bring your own wine. I would never, never, never make a dessert similar to something they serve at the restaurant, just as I would never, never, never bring a ho-hum bottle of $10 wine with me to a restaurant. Now, that would be bad manners.

So, cheers to my dinner party and to my selfishness. And cheers to the fact that everyone loved my low sugar, no flour desserts as much as I did!

(Full disclosure: I totally took a risk by making two desserts I had never made before. Yes, I have made many flourless chocolate cakes...they are my favorite. But, honestly, I had total faith in these recipes because they came from two of my favorite and highly talented gluten-free cooks and their blogs, Karina of Gluten-Free Goddess and Elana of Elana's Pantry. Stay tuned for the orange cake as it was so stunning, simple and scrumptious, I will be making it again very soon and sharing it with you.)

A sneak peek at the amazingly delicious orange cake. The sous chef
segmented the orange I brought and made the cake look spectacular!

Buen provecho!

I brought the cake and raspberries and this is whatthe sous chef did with it! Isn't it gorgeous?
Everyone fought over the raspberries.

Dark Goddess Cake
The Cowgirl Gourmet got this recipe from Karina's Gluten-Free Goddess food blog

Print recipe

Karina says that the blanched almond flour and cocoa produce a sturdy, dense chocolate-cake and that the cake only gets better as it sits overnight, which makes it a perfect go-to cake for a dinner party. No hurry, no worries...you can make it the night before the big night.

In my experience with flourless chocolate cakes, I highly recommend refrigerating the cake overnight and serving it cold or at least slightly cold. The chocolate tends to get fudgy when refrigerated and it's much richer than when served at room temperature.

Serves 10

12 ounces dark chocolate
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon good quality vanilla extract
7 large happy farm fresh eggs
1 cup organic or light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup organic or regular white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup blanched almond flour

To serve:
Cocoa powder or powdered sugar
Fresh raspberries
Whipped cream, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch Springform pan with a circle of parchment paper; butter the paper.

In a microwave safe bowl or a double-boiler, place the chocolate and butter and allow it to melt slowly, stirring every 30 seconds or so. In a microwave, this should take about 2 minutes or four-30-second bursts. On the cooktop in a double-boiler, this will take up to 7 minutes, but do keep a close eye on it and stir occasionally.

Once it is all melted, set it aside for a bit to cool slightly, stirring it often to keep it smooth.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they appear light colored and frothy; add the sugars (light brown and white sugar) and beat it again until the mixture is thick and flows in ribbons, about 5-6 minutes. Slowly, very slowly, pour about half of the melted chocolate into the egg mixture (to gently temper it). Beat on low to combine.

At this point, Karina suggests that we switch to our trusty wooden spoon and blend in the rest of the chocolate by hand. Add the vanilla. Sift the cocoa powder into the batter and gently mix again to combine. Now add the almond flour and mix to thoroughly combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared Springform pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes to an hour...remember oven temps vary.

The top of the cake may crack and that's fine. When a toothpick is inserted into the cake's center, it should emerge clean with a few moist crumbs when done.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. Once the cake has cooled completely, loosen the cake from the edges of the pan with a small flexible knife and then unlock the Springform pan. You may serve the cake right side up or invert it onto a 9-inch serving plate and peel off the parchment.

Now you have two choices...eat the cake when it's room temperature or chill it in the refrigerator for four to six hours or overnight. I prefer a rich and fudgy cake, so I always refrigerate it.

When ready to serve, dust the cake with the cocoa powder or powdered sugar and garnish with a few scattered raspberries or mint leaves and whipping cream, if desired.

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