La Bete Noire - Flourless Chocolate Torte

La Bete Noir - translation:  The Black Beast

Oh ya!  

When my grandson was turning three I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he replied, "Torte".
I asked him again, just in case I didn't hear him correctly and he replied once again, "Torte".  I persisted and asked him if there was a particular toy that he would like and he replied, "I just want Torte".  

He was referring to "The Black Beast".  This kid was no dummy.  He knew exactly what he wanted and he got it!  

Do you blame him.  This is a rich flourless chocolate torte topped with chocolate ganache.  

It may appear difficult, but is extremely easy and you won't even use a mixing bowl.  Just the sauce pan that the chocolate is melted in.

You will need a fair amount of chocolate for the Black Beast - 18 ounces for the torte and another 8 ounces for the ganache.

Of course the quality of chocolate is key because the flavor is based on what chocolate you use.  I used a dark Burgandy chocolate.  Amano (ahhhh) would have been my first choice, but would have cost me about $40 just for the chocolate.  It would make the torte absolutely divine with a very distinct flavor.  I just didn't want to pour that much $$ into my torte.  

If you have a fancy for chocolate chips and would like to use them, select a semi-sweet.  This recipe is no place for milk chocolate.  So don't even think of it.  DO NOT let your brain even enter that territory.  I would suggest using a Guittard semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chip, IF you must use chocolate chips

Enough said.

Half of the work for the Black Beast is preparing the pan.  Let's do that first and get it out of the way. 

You will need a 10-inch springform pan.  A springform pan has sides that detach and pull away making it easy to remove the torte.

You will also need a piece of parchment paper.

Place the pan on the parchment paper.

Trace a circle on the parchment.

Cut the circle out of the sheet of parchment paper.

Butter the bottom and sides of the springform pan.

Press the parchment circle to the bottom of the springform pan.

Now butter the parchment paper.

Next you will need THREE large sheets of HEAVY DUTY aluminum foil.

Place the springform pan on top of the three sheets of foil.

Gather the foil up and around the springform pan.  Crimp and press the foil into place all around the pan.  This will protect the filling from having any water seep in through the bottom ring.

Set the pan aside.  You are half way done.

For the Black Beast you will need 18 ounces of chocolate chopped, unsalted butter, eggs, sugar and water.

Cut the butter into cubes.  Set aside.

Pour the water into a medium size saucepan.

Add the sugar.

Bring the sugar and water to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Then remove from the heat and set aside for a moment.

In another medium saucepan, add the cubed butter.

Melt the butter.

Add the chopped chocolate.

Quickly!  Before the chocolate melts grab a couple of pieces and eat them!  I would be really disappointed if you didn't.

Whisk the butter and chocolate together.

Whisk until smooth.  Remove from the heat.

Immediately add the sugar/water mixture into the chocolate mixture.

Whisk until smooth and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Add all of the eggs at once and begin to whisk vigorously.  

Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the eggs are mixed in completely.

That's all there is to it!  Piece of cake.

Take the prepared springform pan and place it into a large roasting pan.

Pour to chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.

Carefully pour hot water into the roasting pan.  Add hot water until it reaches half way up the sides of the springform pan.

If you don't add the water the torte will "souffle" and it will rise and overflow the springform pan.  Then you will have THE biggest mess in your oven that you have EVER had.

YES!  I am speaking from experience.  

Now very carefully transfer the water filled roasting pan to the preheated oven.  Bake for about 55 minutes or until the torte jiggles just a bit when shaken.

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.  Cool completely.

Once the torte has cooled completely, start preparing the ganache.

In a medium size saucepan, add the cream.  Bring to a simmer.  

Add the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate.

When the chocolate begins to melt, start whisking.

The mixture should be smooth.  There should be no lumps of chocolate.

This is the cooled torte.  Notice the sides of the torte have pulled way from the sides of the pan.  
This is a good thing because the ganache will run down the sides and it will look so nice.

Just pour the warm ganache over the torte.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles that might be in the ganache.

Refrigerate the torte for 2 hours or overnight.  At this point you can carefully cover the pan with foil and freeze for a good week until you are ready to serve.

I have to admit that it is much easier to remove the torte from the pan when it is frozen.

Take a knife and run it around the sides of the torte.

This is why it is called a "springform pan".  

Release the clamp on the sides of the pan.  Carefully open the sides and release it from the torte.

Ta da!  La Bete Noir.

The Black Beast.

The torte is very rich on its own, but you can top it with a dollop of whipped cream, if you'd like.

I just served this today with our Sunday dinner.  My grandson is now 6 and he ate two slices.  I told him it was pretty rich and he said "not for me"!  Yep, we're related!

La Bete Noire

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, diced
18 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For torte:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment round; butter parchment. Wrap 3 layers of heavy-duty foil around outside of pan, bringing foil to top of rim. Combine 1 cup water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk sugar syrup into chocolate; cool slightly. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.
Bake cake until center no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.

For ganache:
Bring whipping cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cake still in pan. Gently shake pan to distribute ganache evenly over top of cake. Refrigerate cake in pan until ganache is set, about 2 hours.

 DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.
Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release sides. Cut cake into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Makes 16 servings

The Black Beast!  I have nothing left to say....


  1. I LOVE that you posted this... tomorrow is my hubby's birthday and he is a major chocolate lover and also gluten intolerant. This will be the perfect dessert for him, I'm going to make it right now so it will be ready for him tomorrow night :) Thanks! Becky

  2. This will be a great Birthday cake, Becky. We have used it for birthdays quite a bit. Good luck. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  3. This looks AMAZING!!! I can't find a large roasting pan to fit the springform pan in. Can I use a large cast-iron skillet instead?

  4. Sure. Use whatever you have that will work. I'd give the cast iron a try.

  5. ok, a couple of questions- and you might not have experimented that much so its perfectly understandable if you can't help with these.

    1. I have a black 8 inch diametere, 3 inch high springform pan. Can you suggest any adjustments I should make to incorporate the above recipe (drools) successfully?

    2. If I halve all the ingredients above, would it still work? As a smaller torte?

    3. If the answer to 2 is "it is possible", what should i adjust the temperature to with the halved ingredients? Or perhaps the timing?

    Thank you so much. It looks absolutely divine.

  6. I've been thinking this through. I think it will work with your 8-inch springform pan. I wasn't sure about 1/2 the amounts at first, but I think you're right on. I wouldn't adjust the temperature, but I would only bake for 30 minutes to start with. After 30 minutes start to jiggle the pan to make sure the center is beginning to set. Remove from the oven as soon as the center no longer moves when the pan is gently shaken. Let me know how this works. I would like to make a smaller torte at times. This size torte will last my family for a month. It's a very rich dessert and a slice is plenty...for the moment. About an hour later I'm ready for another slice. Good luck!

  7. Micah Wilson7/7/11, 5:19 PM

    Hi Janet!
    I made this beast for Father's Day, and we LOVED it. In fact, we froze half of it and we are still loving it! I'm here on your blog getting ready to make your yummy creamy tortellini. And I am wondering, how in the heck am I going to be ready to run a marathon if I keep making all of your fabulous recipes??? :) Love them.

  8. I'm so glad you are still enjoying the beast. I should really start posting recipes that are pre-marathon friendly. I'll be running that same marathon. You will do great. We should get together for some long runs...that is if you don't mind waiting for an old woman!

  9. I was at a party Friday night and someone had made something very close to this and with this name and I told her it was better than my recipe I've used for 20 years. (Recipe here) http://spindyeknit.com/2010/03/may-the-fourth-be-with-you/

    So I came searching for La Bete Noire and found myself here. But hers had peanut butter in it. Hmm.

    Two thoughts: one, a good grade of bourbon vanilla goes fabulously well with chocolate, much more so than other types, and the second, I wonder, with this recipe, have you ever had problems with the chocolate seizing? I've always been told that chocolate has to change temperature at the same time as the liquid in the recipe in order not to form unmeltable lumps from the chocolate structure crystalizing; I'm not entirely sure that's true if the liquid is in the form of boiling syrup, and it sounds like you're doing just fine, so...

    I'm just going to have to try this!

  10. Thank you for the helpful info, Alison. I will definitely check out the recipe. I have not had problems with chocolate seizing as long as you get the formula right. For instance - I can make a chocolate glaze by mixing very hot water with melted chocolate. The key is pouring the hot mixture into the chocolate all at once...not a little bit at a time. Also, I make ganache by pouring hot cream onto chopped chocolate pieces. I have never had a problem with the chocolate seizing with this recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

  11. This sounds like a great dessert for Christmas Eve. Where did you buy such a large slab of bittersweet chocolate?

  12. I purchased the 10 lb slab at a store in SLC that is a baking supply Co. Bakers Cash and Carry. You can, also, purchase through Orson Gygi. Can you believe that I actually USE this entire block through out the season?

  13. I have made this for years. It is my youngest daughter's favorite birthday treat. She will be 20 this year, so I might make it for a dinner party on her birthday (while she is away at college), then take a few leftover slices to her the next day when I visit. This is so rich and serves so many people!

    1. You are right this does deserve and crowd. Lucky people who get to come to that dinner party.

  14. you pour the ganache on the cake while it's still in the pan...and it actually comes out looking so nice?

    1. Believe it or not. It actually works.

  15. Dear Janet, today is my husband's birthday and I made this for him and shared with our colleagues. And everyone just LOVES it.
    Thank you so much for this nice recipe! But one imperfection is mine looked more solid than yours, and it kind of cracked a bit when I started to cut. Is it because of the syrup which I might have boiled too long? (the water portion are decreased)

    1. This is one decadent cake. I'm glad everyone loved it. One thing I should note is that while taking photo's the cake sits out for a couple of hours. That could be one reason why mine looks softer. It's possible it could have been over baked slightly. I'm not sure on the liquid issue. Next time you make it just reduce the amount of time you boil the syrup and decrease the baking time by a few minutes. I hope that helps.

  16. Wow, what a torte! I'm curious thought what brand your pan is and how did you order it. If your willing, I'd also like to know the brand name of your cooking pots. They all look so sturdy and 'cookable'. Thanks in advance, Karen

    1. I purchased the spring form pan years ago and I can't find a brand on it anywhere. Sorry. My cooking pans are All-Clad. I love them. The are fabulous pans. I have had them for over 20 years. Thanks for commenting.

  17. I just made your torte and when I put the ganache on it, once it cooled it is brown with yellowish streaks on top. I mixed it well and let the torte cool first. Not sure what I did wrong. Could you still eat it? I don't know if it was the butter on the sides of the springpan or the whipping cream itself.

    1. Hmmm...that's hard to say. I've never had that happen. The first thought I have is that perhaps the cream got very hot. I'm not sure if that happened. They butter is a probability. My guess is that the torte will be perfectly safe to eat. You can dust a layer of cocoa powder over top of the ganache and the spots should be covered and safe. I hope this helps.

  18. I had a very similar recipe that called for 18oz of semi sweet chocolate to be added to 1/2 cup of melted butter. The first time, it worked perfectly, but I have not been able to make it work again. It gets really stiff and seems almost like it's seizing. Do you have any advice?

    1. My guess is that it could be the chocolate to butter ratio. It could need more butter. It's hard for me to troubleshoot without seeing it or getting more details. Unless...You could try melting the chocolate over simmering water then adding the melted butter. That just might work without it seizing up on you. If you don't want to add the full cup of butter, you could try that method first. I hope this helps.

  19. hello, I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS, I have a question, I have made this for the third time now and its so yummy but I do not like it cold. Can it sit out at room temperature like a regular cake? I was not sure so I have keeping the beast in the fridge

    1. Ha ha ha. I think you might want to keep that beast in the frige. If you like the texture soft at room temperature, just pull it out and let it sit to room temperature. That could take 30 minutes or so.

  20. I was searching for something gluten free and chocolate but what I found was even better. This is the best torte I've made and had! I have made this six times and each time has been a hit. I love everything about it and it's so yummy!!! Thank you.

  21. This recipie sounds too delicious to pass up. I'm just wondering...when do you take the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake? I'm sorry if this sounds like a ridiculous question but i'm not all that experienced with this. Thanks so much!

    1. That's not a stupid questions. It's not that easy to remove. If I freeze the torte, I peel it off after it's frozen. If not, I just leave it there. Sometimes you can refrigerate it and then peel it off when it's cold and firm. I hope you try it. It's fabulous for chocolate lovers.

  22. My torte raised quite a bit more than yours and has more of a crust then the gelatinous look that yours has...

    1. Was it a success? Did it taste fabulous?

  23. I have decided to use your recipe to make my very first Torte! After much searching the web and reading recipes, yours uses 1 stick of butter where most call for 2.. I love butter, but...just to save a little fat calories. Serving tomorrow afternoon!

  24. Hello Janet, It was a hit! My first time ever making a Torte, Gnache, and whipped cream. I decided to call mine chocolate "torture". It was extremely moist. I pullled it out after 45 min total time. I modified a bit and used just a 1/2 tsp of Almond Flavor in it; substuted 1/2 cup of Maple Syrup for the white sugar. I used the semi-sweet Ghirardeli chips for the chocolate. It got a big nod of approval as a Paleo friendly dish as well. Thank you. The hardest part was trying to find a new spring form pan on thankgiving, couldnt find the bottom..(thank you biglots)

    1. I love your name of "torture"! I'm so excited to hear that the changes worked well. My daughter has to live on a very strict diet due to health issues. She can only use honey as a sweetener. I bet that would work in place of the sugar. I will pass your changes on to her...as soon as she can have chocolate. Thanks for letting me know of your results. I'm happy it was a success.

  25. This looks just wonderful. It's liked a cooked chocolate mousse with a chocolate topping! I will really try this version which is a little similar to a recipe which was given to me by a French lady. She called her recipe: "La Reine de Saba" (Queen of Sheba), so it sounds related to La Bête Noire!!!

  26. Question: What kind of adjustments are needed to make it in a 9" springfoam pan? Do ingredients need to be reduced or should time be adjusted?

    1. I have no idea what the adjustments would be. I would just pour the recipe into a 9", but not fill it completely full then bake as suggested in recipe. You may have a bit of the batter leftover.

  27. Have you ever tried substituting some of the butter for a liquor? I was thinking of replacing 1/3 of the butter for the ganache with amaretto

    1. I have not tried using that much liquor. I would probably start with just a tablespoon maybe two and a flavoring, but I would not replace the butter in the recipe. Just add the amount of amaretto you would like to add. Good luck.

  28. This is so rich and wonderful. I quartered the recipe and used a silicone tart pan (in the shape of hearts) and 2 ramekins. I also used dark chocolate wit orange essence for the ganache.
    Little chocolate indulgences!

    1. What a great idea. I only make this if I have a crowd coming. I bet the orange flavor was wonderful.
      Thanks for sharing your idea.

  29. I baked this cake for my birthday and it was a really good choice. The cake was sooooooooo delicious so I had to buy another amount of chocolate bars and I am looking forward to my husband's birthday the next month. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Thank YOU for your kind comment. I just love this cake too. It's rich yet addicting. Happy birthday to you and your husband.