Belated Valentine: Boca Negra


What did you do on Valentines Day?

I went home to give Mr Gander plain yoghurt for dinner.

You see, Mr Gander had two wisdom teeth removed on 14 Feb, so ‘real food’ was out of the question. Diddums. Instead, I drew a heart on his yoghurt with pomegranate molasses as an ironic V-day gift.

On Saturday, he could eat food again. To celebrate this milestone, we had momofuku pork belly buns (another post coming soon) and boca negra.

Boca negra: a spoon-able, custard-fudgy, intensely decadent, dark chocolate concoction that leaves traces of itself every step of the way. Dessert forks, plates, cake knife, the mixing bowl, whisk, spatula, all had a slick of rich, soft chocolate that whispered ‘lick me’ – no wonder the cake is called ‘boca negra’ or ‘black mouth’ in Spanish.


The texture was similar to the Orbit Cake from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert (a version of the Orbit cake recipe is on his blog). The main differences are boca negra is not flourless, but uses 1.5 tablespoons of flour, and the baking time is much shorter at 30 minutes rather than 1.5 hours. I also saw a version of boca negra with chipotle chiles on Epicurious It adds a throat warming heat to the chocolatey-ness, which I imagine would be great for those hibernating winter months.

But back to Julia Child / Lora Brody’s version of boca negra.


La Boca #1 and #2

Saturday was the second time I made boca negra. The first time was for our Chinese New Year, seven-course, twelve-people feast. We had three desserts (I got a bit carried away…), and this was the crowd’s favourite.

The guests liked it so much that there was no cake left for me to photograph the next day. When twelve people like a cake, finishing the cake will be, well, a piece of cake.

So I had to make another boca. (The things I do for this blog)

The batter is a mixture of bourbon and sugar syrup, lots of dark (bittersweet) chocolate, a smidge of flour and lots of butter. Once the ingredients are mixed together, the batter is poured into a lined cake pan, and baked in a water bath for 30 minutes exactly. Then, it is flipped out of the cake pan in a series o f

The first time I made boca negra, the bourbon sugar syrup wasn’t quite warm enough to melt the chocolate and incorporate all of the butter. I warmed up the rest of the butter before adding it to the chocolate mixture. This almost led to the mixture separating, but my Bosch mixer performed a minor miracle and turned the oily looking mess into a shiny, satiny batter in less than a minute.

The second time, I used a double boiler – with water on the gentlest heat so that it steamed without boiling – to melt and mix the batter. The double boiler melted the chocolate and butter gradually and beautifully, and soon I had that richly glossy, velvety mixture again.

I could look at the sheen and colour of the batter forever, if I didn’t like eating the finished cake more.

I had fun ‘plating up’ the second boca, using rose petals, dried strawberries in a brown sugar syrup, and white chocolate bourbon cream on the side.

On a whim, I cut a slice of boca into a heart shape. Later, I put a smiley face on it. Mr Gander thought the heart shaped slice was cheesy, though admitted he liked the smiley. Then again, he also said he preferred his V-day yoghurt. Men?!

boca3a smlboca 6a sml

White chocolate bourbon cream

In the recipe, the boca negra is accompanied by a white chocolate and bourbon cream.

This was a straightforward ganache-like mixture. Not wanting bourbon to overpower the white chocolate, I added the bourbon one tablespoon at a time. After two tablespoons (30ml), or about half of what the recipe called for, I was happy with the taste.

The result was a pale cream-coloured mixture which was closest to the colour of the white chocolate, though it seemed to become a paler cream after it has cooled. The warm mixture flowed stylishly over the slices of cake and pooled on the plate. Once cooled in the fridge, it became a thicker mixture that could almost be dolloped.

We liked the taste of the cream, but on balance, I didn’t think the boca negra needed a rich garnish. Being a dark chocolate fiend, I preferred the way rose petals subtly lifted the chocolate into more exotic dimensions flavour-wise.

Recipe and links

For the boca negra recipe, go to Cathy’s blog A Frederick Food Garden. It is also on page 253 of Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

To see who else have tell-tale black mouths, go to Tuesdays with Dorie.


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30 thoughts on “Belated Valentine: Boca Negra

  1. Food and Forage Hebrides 19 February 2013 at 3:11 am Reply

    Men indeed! Looks delightful, whatever shape it is 🙂

    • saucygander 19 February 2013 at 11:31 am Reply

      Thanks Tracey! I think he liked the heart shape – on the inside.

  2. Cathleen 19 February 2013 at 6:05 pm Reply

    Lovely post! I enjoyed the white chocolate cream – this is a wonderful dessert. Hope Mr. Gander is back in the game!

    • saucygander 19 February 2013 at 8:52 pm Reply

      The white choc cream would be awesome with lots of things, like a macadamia and white chocolate tart. I just like my dark chocolate very dark and undiluted. 🙂 And Mr Gander is all good now!

  3. yummychunklet 20 February 2013 at 4:50 am Reply

    I love the smiley face! So cute!

    • saucygander 20 February 2013 at 3:45 pm Reply

      Thanks, it was fun to draw the smiley!

  4. Mel 20 February 2013 at 6:38 am Reply

    So lovely!!!
    Your Valentine’ Boca Negra look wonderful!!!

    • saucygander 20 February 2013 at 3:53 pm Reply

      Thank you, yours looks delicious too! Loved this one.

  5. 21 February 2013 at 12:18 am Reply

    Love your presentation….and the smiley face!! A gorgeous looking cake…Hope Mr. Gander is feeling better!!

    • saucygander 21 February 2013 at 9:14 pm Reply

      He is, thank you, back to real food, like peanut brittle… We liked the smiley face too, that was fun.

  6. Miette 21 February 2013 at 12:31 am Reply

    Love the little cakes. How wonderful. and I agree, the white chocolate cream was too much of a good thing with this cake.

    • saucygander 21 February 2013 at 9:23 pm Reply

      The white chocolate cream has potential, if it can be less overpowering, maybe in a macadamia tart or mixed into creamy ice cream…..

  7. galettista 21 February 2013 at 1:11 am Reply

    I’m intrigued by the dried rose petals. I’ve never thought of using them this way. Your cake looks delicious, and I agree that dark chocolate is the best.

    • saucygander 21 February 2013 at 9:26 pm Reply

      The dried rose petals added a hint of scent and flavour, less assertive than the white chocolate cream, especially in small amounts. They were decorative too!

  8. Amanda 21 February 2013 at 4:53 am Reply

    Love the heart, so cute. You must be a boca negra professional after making it twice. 🙂

    • saucygander 21 February 2013 at 9:28 pm Reply

      I don’t know about professional…I flipped the cake with my eyes closed and hoped for the best!

  9. Elaine 21 February 2013 at 11:25 am Reply

    How adorable! That would put a smile on anyone’s face and I am sure made Mr. Gander feel much better. I am intrigued by the addition of chipotle chiles in this! I will have to check that recipe out.

    • saucygander 21 February 2013 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Thank you! I’m intrigued by the chile too…

  10. SandraM 21 February 2013 at 12:36 pm Reply

    Wonderful pics! Love the heart shaped one and the rose petals. And awesome that you made another cake for the blog!! 🙂

    • saucygander 21 February 2013 at 9:31 pm Reply

      Thanks! It was easy to convince myself to make the boca again, since I love dark chocolate so much. 🙂

  11. TheKitchenLioness 21 February 2013 at 11:42 pm Reply

    Two cute versions of a wonderfully delicious looking Boca Negra – the white chocolate bourbon sauce must have been delecatable with these cakes.

    • saucygander 22 February 2013 at 9:50 am Reply

      I also want to try the white chocolate sauce with other liquor, like frangelico, the hazelnut flavour would go really well with white chocolate.

  12. breaddivas 22 February 2013 at 7:56 am Reply

    The rose petals are a lovely touch. Thanks for sharing your experience with the double boiler method. I will give that a try the next time I make this cake too.

    • saucygander 22 February 2013 at 9:51 am Reply

      Yes, the double boiler made it much easier!

  13. Sharron - one clever mom 22 February 2013 at 8:11 am Reply

    Beautiful! How lovely that you already made 2! I am thinking of my next one as well. With a dessert this simple and delicous, how can we not make it for many occasions??

  14. Liz 22 February 2013 at 11:22 am Reply

    Wow, yours was baked to perfection! No way could I have cut mine into a heart…my wedge was iffy enough! I will have to bake this again but for a longer time…the flavor was wonderful.

    • saucygander 22 February 2013 at 6:37 pm Reply

      The flavour was wonderful, so much chocolate in every bite, yum!

  15. Sunshinex2 22 February 2013 at 4:12 pm Reply

    I can’t believe you doubled up on this recipe- oh wait, yes I can. It was that good, wasn’t it?

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