February 15, 2020

Lisbon Chocolate Cake

How is it that Lisbon is one of my favorite cities in the entire world yet I never managed to try Landeau's chocolate cake on my previous visits?  Your guess is as good as mine but I could literally kick myself for this oversight.  Most likely my attention was more focused on the famous pastel de nata,  but you can't blame me for that.  I really do love them!

Luckily Dorie Greenspan has come to the rescue.  She fell in love with the famed chocolate cake and created a copycat recipe that was published in the New York Times.  One bite of this rich chocolate cake coupled with light and creamy mousse and I was hooked.  Another bonus?  It's gluten-free! Hopefully this homemade version will tide me over until my next visit to Portugal.

p.s. I absolutely loved all the gorgeous tiles in Lisbon so when I recently remodeled my pantry I had to incorporate Portuguese tiles in the design.  These are from Everett and Blue and I think they look fantastic. 

Lisbon Chocolate Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

½ cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into chunks, plus more for greasing the pan
cup/30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
5 ounces/140 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
3 large eggs, chilled

1 ¾ cups/420 milliliters heavy cream
6 ounces/170 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder  

Make the cake: Center a rack in the oven, and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch cake pan, line with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Sift together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend.

Put the 1/2 cup butter in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Scatter the semisweet or bittersweet chocolate on top, and heat, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove the bowl from the pan, and stir in the sugar. One by one, energetically stir in the eggs, beating for 1 minute after the last egg is added. The mixture will look like pudding. Stir in the dry ingredients. Scrape the mixture into the cake pan, and give the pan a couple of good raps against the counter to settle the batter.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (or with only a tiny streak of chocolate). Transfer to a rack, cool for 5 minutes, then unmold the cake. Peel off the paper, invert the cake and cool to room temperature. Wash and dry the cake pan.

Make the ganache: Pour 1 1/4 cups cream into a small saucepan; refrigerate the rest. Scald the cream over medium heat, turn off the heat and stir in the semisweet or bittersweet chocolate until fully incorporated. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Refrigerate the ganache for 10 minutes, whisk it, then refrigerate again for 10 minutes. Repeat chilling and whisking steps until the ganache is thick enough to make tracks when you stir, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cut two 3-by-16-inch pieces of parchment or foil, and crisscross them in the cake pan. Carefully return the cake to the pan. (The mousse layer is too soft to stand on its own until it's chilled. It needs the support of the pan sides.)

Whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream until it holds medium peaks.

Using a whisk, gently beat the ganache until it’s soft and spreadable. With a spatula, fold in the whipped cream. Spread over the cake, and refrigerate for 2 hours (or cover and keep for up to 2 days). The cake is best served cool or at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving.

To finish, put the cocoa powder in a fine-mesh strainer, and shake it over the top of the cake. Run a table knife along the sides of the pan. Using the parchment or foil handles, carefully lift the cake out of the pan and onto a serving plate. Discard the strips. Cut the cake using a long knife that has been run under hot water and wiped dry between each cut.


  1. Helpful post! I have been looking for some cake recipes as I want to prepare a cake this Christmas. Luckily, I came across your post. I am glad I got to read your post as I recently cleared my Portugal Visa Appointment and I will be visiting Portugal with my family for New Year celebrations. Hoping to have a delicious Lisbon cake this Christmas and experience the best of Lisbon in New Year.

  2. This Lisbon chocolate cake is a slice of heaven! A must-try for any chocolate lover. Pure delight VFS Portugal visa UK


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