Steamed chocolate cake using Valrhona cocoa powder and whipped cream

Steamed chocolate cake.

Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson for Cheryl Marie Cordeiro 2010

This is one of the easiest cakes to make, the preparation time being just about 7 minutes and the cooking time, which is steaming, is ca. 35 minutes. It’s delicious just after it has cooled, served with a little whipped cream (or plain vanilla ice-cream). In Singapore, this cake is most often served with a lush chocolate ganache over the top, or if you have the cake layered, the chocolate ganache can come between the layers too.

Steamed cakes most likely came out of Chinese kitchens as it is the Chinese who have most variations of steamed foods from buns to dumplings, vegetables to fish and meat.

There are variations of the steamed chocolate cake recipe around the internet, though the variations are in slight proportions. Since I’m a chocolate anything fan, this chocolate cake is one that I make often when I’m not in the mood to use the oven for baking or when I want a slight change in chocolate cake texture.

In this round of steaming this cake, I wanted to see if fresh whipped cream would make a difference in the texture of the cake and according to those who tasted it, it’s the best version of this cake thus far, though in my view, I would attribute its full rich chocolate flavour to the use of Valrhona cocoa powder backed by molasses and a pinch of salt.


185 g butter
130 g flour
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp dark syrup or molasses
160 g sugar (add less if you prefer)
70 g Valrhona cocoa powder
200 ml whipping cream (whipped)
pinch of salt
*This will fill a 9 inch diameter baking tin that is greased and lined.

Steamed chocolate cake with whipped cream, made with Valrhona cocoa powder. Early spring flowers, Sweden.

Some flowers that appear in early spring in Sweden.

You’ll need to first prepare the steamer and see that you get the water boiling in it before setting out to work on the cake mixture, because doing the cake mixture takes very little time.

Melt the butter, sugar and dark syrup together and then set aside to cool. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Into the cooled butter and sugar mixture, then add the eggs, whipped cream and vanilla essence. Into the dry flour mixture, add the wet mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon and voila! Done. Pour this into the tin and steam on medium heat for about 35 minutes. Check with a cake tester. If the rod comes out sticky, leave the cake to steam for another 5 minutes, though it shouldn’t take much longer than that to cook thoroughly.

The cake here was served as is, sans chocolate ganache but with whipped cream instead. Excellent to coffee or a warm cup of milk.

Chef’s tip: Using good dark cocoa powder will make a difference to the taste of the cake, so go for the best on the shelves when shopping. David Lebovitz gives a good rundown on the different sorts of cocoa powder.


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