Boca Negra without alcohol (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

boca negra

Image: “boca negra” by Stephanie,



  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao Bittersweet baking bars, they have a nice rich flavor without any fruity or acidic notes, are easy to find, and not crazy expensive.)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (set aside 1/4 cup for mixing into eggs)
  • 1/4 cup black tea (other possible substitutions: coffee, fruit juices, etc. This was the bourbon in the original recipe. However, I was making the dessert for my students and wanted it to be alcohol-free. In the past I’ve made it with bourbon and cognac, and I much preferred the cognac).
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into about 10 pieces
  • 5 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour


  • 9 inch cake pan
  • A pan or some other vessel that the pan can fit inside that is at least 1 1/2″ high (this is for the cake’s water bath)
  • spatula or whisk (I prefer spatulas for folding)
  • whisk or Kitchen Aid mixer (to beat the eggs)
  • parchment paper
  • scissors
  • pen or pencil
  • meat thermometer

Oven: 350 F, rack in the lower third (make sure there is no rack above it) Trace the bottom of the cake pan onto the parchment paper and sit out the circle just inside where you traced. Butter the cake pan and line the bottom with the round of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper too. Put the chopped chocolate into a large bowl (big enough to fit all the things). Choose your own adventure #1 Option 1: Put 1 cup of the sugar and all of the tea (or liquid of choice) into a microwave safe bowl and heat until the sugar is melted and the liquid boils. Option 2: Do the same thing in a sauce pan on the stovetop. Take the outcome of CYOA #1 and dump it onto the chopped chocolate. Mix with spatula or whisk until smooth. Add the butter pieces one at a time, waiting until one is melted before adding another. In another bowl or the bowl of your Kitchen Aid mixer (or similar device) add the eggs and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until thick and light colored about 3-5 mins with mixer. When you lift the whisk, there should be a ribbon of egg that stays on the surface for a bit before sinking. Add about 1/4 of the egg mix to the chocolate to lighten it. Then carefully fold the rest of egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Go look up a folding video on YouTube if you don’t know how. It’s a pretty important thing to know for baking stuff…and I learned at a really young age, so I just kind of know how, but can’t describe it so well…just watch someone who knows what they’re doing and you’ll figure it out. Pour the cake batter into the pan, smooth the top with your spatula or finger. Boil water anyway you want (I used my electric kettle). Put the water bath pan into the oven, fill about half way with boiling water. Carefully place your cake pan into the water bath. Add more water so that the water bath comes up the sides of the pan about 1″. Don’t let water get into the cake batter!. Set at least 1 timer for 30 mins (I always set a couple, just in case). Mine cooked for a total of 35 minutes. You want it to be about 170 F in the center of the cake and set up on the surface, not jiggly like a cheesecake. Yours may or may not have a dry, papery surface depending on your oven and humidity levels. When it’s done, take it out and put it onto a cooling rack or any heat-safe elevated surface (the coils/grates on a stove work pretty well). Let it cool for at least an hour. Cut around the edges of the cake carefully, put a cutting board or cake pedestal on top of it, and then flip the whole thing. The cake should easily release if you buttered everything right. Peel off the parchment paper and serve as desired. You can keep it in the fridge for a week or freeze the cake for up to a month. Let it come to room temp before serving, unless you love the dense, fudge confection it becomes when the butter in it sets up… Serves about 16-24 people. As this is basically the most decadent cake ever, this is meant to be served in tiny slices. I don’t know anyone that can eat 1/12 of this cake in a single sitting. The white chocolate ganache in the original is too sweet and overpowering, so I left it out. One time I whisked a bunch of matcha into the hot cream and then strained it into the white chocolate, and didn’t add the bourbon. That was a big improvement. Honestly, just go buy some nice ice cream ors erve with whipped cream and maybe some nice fresh strawberries or blackberries, or keep it simple with a dusting of cinnamon, cayenne, and cocoa. A couple of shards of some nice crunchy praline would also be very delicious. Maybe you cover it in bananas foster and flame the whole thing?! Not my idea of delicious, but I’m sure that would make someone out there happy. This cake is the perfect way to showcase chocolate, so go with how you like to eat it.


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