Sweet Elena’s Signature Chocolate Cake


“Here is a recipe that I love, which will impress guests. I do not make it often for the markets because it is sensitive to heat, but it has been my signature chocolate cake for many years. I developed the recipe while I was a pastry chef at Ventana Resort and reworked and reworked it many times. It is now perfection, I think: intense in chocolate, not too sweet.” – Elena Salsedo-Steele, owner of Sweet Elena’s Bakery


4 ounces unsweetened  chocolate* (good quality chocolate makes a difference), broken into pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 cup brandy
5 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature


Preheat oven to 325°F. Position rack in the lower third of oven.

Prepare a 9 inch springform pan. (Lightly butter sides and bottom of pan. Cut out parchment paper circle to line bottom of pan.)

Place chocolate pieces in the top of a double boiler. Place top of double boiler over pot of barely simmering hot water and melt chocolate, stirring gently, until chocolate is smooth and melted.

Add brandy, stirring slowly, and continue stirring to keep chocolate soft. Turn off heat, but leave double boiler in place.

In mixing bowl, cream butter with 1/4 cup of sugar. Add yolks and beat until well blended.

In a mixing blow, beat egg whites with remaining 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form.

With a rubber spatula, quickly combine chocolate-brandy mixture with butter-yolks mixture. Then, fold in whites gently. Scrape the batter into prepared springform pan.

Bake at 325°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Center should be slightly soft. Set the pan on wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Remove the springform pan sides, invert the cake on a sheet of waxed paper, peel off parchment pan liner, and turn cake right side up on a serving platter.

Dust lightly with cocoa or confectioners’ sugar and serve with dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries, if desired. Or you may glaze cake with ganache. Serve cake at room temperature.

YIELD: Makes 16 servings

*NOTE: Do not use chocolate chips, which contain waxy stabilizers that help them keep their shape. Use a quality, fine bar of chocolate, such as Callabaut, Valrhona or Sharffen Berger, and cut into chunk and pieces before melting.



7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup cream
2 teaspoons unsalted butter


Place chocolate, cream and butter in small pan. Over low heat, heat mixture until chocolate is melted and glossy. Spread over the cooled cake.

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