Arak-spiked chocolate cake

January 13, 2011  •  Category:


Staying off chocolate for almost 10 days means only one thing: It comes back with a vengeance!

This is a simple (but rich) chocolate cake made after one that my mother used to make all the time. The eggs are separated, whites beaten to a meringue, a bit of flour is added and the cake is done; you end up with a moist cake with intense chocolate flavor. Spiking it with arak, Lebanon’s national liqueur (similar to ouzo and pastis) is optional. It just gives it a little more of the sin factor.

It also gives the cake an undercurrent of anise  flavor.

INGREDIENTS: 12 servings

  • 5 large eggs
  • 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate ( I used Ghirardelli 60%)
  • 10 Tablespoons of unsalted butter (150 g.)
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (175 g.)
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour (4 ounces or 115  g.)
  • dash of salt, 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 Tablespoons of arak


Recipe is from Rose Levy Beranbaum The Cake Bible

  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • 9 ounces of chocolate chips (best bittersweet ones)
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of arak


  1. Prepare the pans or one large pan (batter will make two small cakes or one large 12 inch cake)by greasing and flouring them and lining them with parchment paper.
  2. Separate the eggs and set the whites in a mixer bowl. Preheat the oven to 350F. Beat the whites till frothy, then add the cream of tartar and beat till stiff and glossy, at a higher speed, adding a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar as you are beating them. Set them aside.
  3. Cut the chocolate in small pieces and place in a pan or a double-boiler (over simmering water) with the butter and sugar. When the mixture is smooth, remove from heat and add the egg yolks, stirring well to combine and the arak if using. Add the flour sifting it with the salt over the mixture.
  4. Add a third of the egg whites first to the chocolate mixture to lighten it; use the hand whisk preferably or the mixer at the lowest speed possible, so as not to deflate the whites. Add the rest of the whites by hand using either the whisk or a spatula and an up-and-down motion.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes (depending on the pans used) till the cake is firm and still moist.

Making the glaze: Heat the cream on the stove till scalding (forming little bubbles all around). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir gently till they dissolve and add the arak if using. Pour over the cake. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or leave the cake as is.

TIP: If you prefer the cake on the drier side, add a bit more flour, say, 1/4 cup.


54 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. sensiblecooking says:

    Very well said Joumana. When you try to ignore chocolate it comes at you with vengeance. But if vengeance is you chocolate cake I am ready to starve myself out of chocolate.

  2. deana says:

    I really like adding a little flavor like your arak to chocolate.. it adds a mysterious something to it, doesn’t it. I am an addict.. there, I’ve said it. I must have at least one truffle every day or I get the shakes… really lovely recipe, Joumana!

  3. Kathy says:

    Joumana, I wanted to let you know I made your pumpkin Kibbi today and it was absolutely wonderful. For years we have tried to imitate my Grandmothers and we had the flavor pretty much down but the texture would be troublesome. I had never tried to drain the pumpkin and what a difference it made. Thanks so much for the recipe! I really enjoy your site. All our Lebanese cooks are gone now and trying to remember what was never written down is quite a task! And your cake looks absolutely beautiful!

  4. Anita says:

    Arak and dark chocolate. A fantastic combo! And why on earth would you deprive yourself of chocolate for ten long days? That’s crazy 🙂

  5. samir says:

    yaba yay!! ,what a whammy chocolate and arak ! another one for my list..your cake looks divine.. as well as the tablescape..very Levantine. I must try this recipe one day , mine without frosting ..

  6. tigerfish says:

    In a way, vengeance is good! ;p

  7. Miss Anthropist says:

    Love this! Excellent photography skills and the cake looks amazing!

  8. Banana Wonder says:

    Love this spike! Never thought of arak (ouzo) with chocolate, but it totally makes sense and must add an amazing richness to the cake.

  9. samir says:

    .the whole thing looks irresistable… half the ganache recipe then for a thin layer..

  10. Claudia says:

    Printing this – I love the idea of some anise flavoring with the chhocolate. Ten days without chocolate? Incroyable!

  11. Ivy says:

    Oh wow, this looks really delish, and I know my children will love thisl

  12. chiara says:

    I am very curious about this recipe, I will try pastis, thanks for sharing Joumana, a hug …

  13. Sally says:

    Who could resist this for the headline alone?! Beautifully decorated – I really like the border of chocolate sprinkles.

  14. oum mouncifrayan says:

    il est parfait ton gateau!! ça donne très envie..bisous

  15. Diane says:

    No. no. no I must not look 🙂 I am trying to get off the holiday surplus weight I put on!!!! Diane

  16. Katerina says:

    I just wonder how could you stay without chocolate for 10 days. You must be very self controlled. I cannot do this, no way. This cake looks absolutely decadent and I love it. I have never tried infusing ouzo in a cake but it sounds like a good idea. I’ll do it in my next cake attempt.

  17. Cherine says:

    I love this vengeance!!
    The addition is arak is fabulous!!

  18. Karen says:

    Never tasted this but love it already… looks decadent!

  19. Priya says:

    Such a irresistible cake..

  20. My Carolina Kitchen says:

    What a gorgeous chocolate cake and your presentation on the white is outstanding. Who could resist?

  21. Barbara says:

    Nice recipe, Joumana, and a lovely presentation. Beranbaum’s book is beyond incredible.

  22. Conor @Hold the Beef says:

    This looks as rich as I was hoping to be after the big lottery draw recently. Beautiful.

  23. Caffettiera says:

    I never thought about anise with chocolate as well. How intriguing. Anyway this cake looks very moist, exactly the type I like. Hmm… You are tempting me back to chocolate sooner than what I thought.

  24. 5 Star Foodie says:

    What a decadent chocolate cake – it sounds amazing flavored with arak liqueur!

  25. Sushma Mallya says:

    such a beautiful cake…

  26. lisa says:

    Ignoring chocolate never works very long for me. I have used that frosting recipe from The Cake Bible and it’s fantastic – this looks lovely.

  27. Samantha says:

    Wow, that cake looks so moist and delicious!

    Do you think subbing sambuca for arak would be ok?

  28. Green Shushi says:

    You have such great ideas! Gotta try this…

  29. peter says:

    The cake sounds wonderful, I’m all for Ouzo and your presentation is very elegant…grat post!

  30. shayma says:

    dear joumana, i havent visited your blog in a while as i’ve been on holidays- lots of yummy stuff here-this is a delicious cake, i really, really love arak- and i love aniseed, this must be so tasty. wishing you a very happy 2011. x shayma
    ps i love the cake pedestal- pretty.

  31. Susan says:

    10 days without chocolate – I’m impressed! Your cake looks so delicious.

  32. Citron says:

    Sounds and looks absolutely decadent. And I love the sin factor, so will definitely try it with the arak. Just hope I can find it at the my liquor store! Thanks.

  33. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    I just bought some pastis. Never thought to use it in a chocolate cake. Brilliant.

  34. SYLVIA says:

    This is a very elegant cake for entertaing, It looks velvety and decadent. A wreath of chocolate sprinkles on the top makes a striking garnish, and looks stunning on the crystal cake plate.
    Dark chocolate is good for our health, it has the same heart healthy antioxidants as red wine and green tea, it also contains magnesium known to regulate blood pressure. Dark chocolate shouldn’t be taboo from your everyday diet, keep your portions sensible to about an ounce, enjoy and savor it.

  35. Doc says:

    I love the apple cabbage combo and have used many variations but none with apple molassas. Sounds and looks fantastic! If arak is anything like the “reki” we had in Turkey, well I bet that stuff might leave me arak the next day!

  36. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    Oh I know better to avoid chocolate and have it take revenge on me later lol. And I would gladly be a sinner for this cake with the arak in it, it really sounds amazing Joumana.

  37. Dimah says:

    Nice looking cake! very delicious and tempting!

  38. Amanda says:

    You are clearly stronger than me, Joumana – I could never manage 10 days without chocolate.
    And what a lovely, dark, moist, dense cake – another recipe to add to my repertoire of chocolate cakes!

  39. Hannah says:

    I honestly could not even go four days without chocolate 🙂 I love how I almost always learn something new from your blog! Arak this time 🙂 Do you think rosewater could work, though in a very different-flavour kind of way? I just bought rosewater for the first time, you see 🙂

    • Joumana says:

      @Hannah: You and Steven Pyles (a famous Texas chef) have the same idea: he concocted a middle-eastern flavored dessert in his latest restaurant Samar, with rose water and chocolate.

      @Jackie: Sure, you could substitute anise extract. Just go easy on the volume, I would just try with no more than a couple of teaspoons at first, I think the extract is pretty strong.

  40. Magdalena says:

    If this salad is good for anybody over 35, it is good for me, too. I will do this definitely.

  41. Oui, Chef says:

    You know me, I always have plenty of chocolate in the house, and thanks to my lovely wife, I have a bottle of arak in reserve as well. Guess what I’m making this week? – S

  42. Jamie says:

    Oh my lord that is one stunning, dense, fabulous cake! And strangely enough, my husband was in the tiny Lebanese shop around the corner and bought a strange bottle of liqueur like this and we didn’t know what to do with it! Voilà!!! Gorgeous!

  43. Christine @ Fresh says:

    This cake looks so decadent! I think those recipes that call for separation of eggs, and folding in fluffy egg whites make the best moist cakes.

  44. grace says:

    that’s one heck of a rich and dense cake, joumana–very nice!

  45. OysterCulture says:

    Wow, this sounds so tasty. I have not gotten my hands on arak yet, but I sense a special mission coming up. The cake looks dense and rich, the perfect to sit and savor with good company and maybe a bit of arak on the side?

  46. Jackie ( says:

    I’ve heard of Pastis but never heard of Arak before. I’m sure a little anise flavor paired with chocolate taste fabulous. Would that work to substitute anise extract instead?

  47. Vagabonde says:

    That deep dark chocolate cake is captivating to a choco-adict, that’s for sure, and adding some liquor would be even better. I don’t know arak but my father used to drink “raki” and I think it’s the same type of drink. He drank it “sec” but with water added, it became opaque, like light milk, like ouzo but maybe stronger.

  48. A Canadian Foodie says:

    Who would ever like their cake on the drier side?
    This is one of the most beautiful and certainly the darkest chocolate cake I have seen in a very long while in the blogosphere. I love the moistness… and the glass… and the sin factor. Sambuca would be good, too!
    (wicked grin)
    I have this recipe bookmarked. Is it a traditional Lebanese cake, or just your mother’s cake?

  49. Dana says:

    Your cake looks deliciously dark. I’m going to have to see if I can get my hands on some arak.

  50. Lentil Breakdown says:

    Looks gorgeous on the cake stand. Have never seen a cake stand like that! I doubt it’s from Bed Bath and Beyond! (well maybe beyond).

  51. FOODESSA says:

    I don’t know what to fall in love with more…the chocolate factor…the gorgeous serving platter or the stunning elegant cake!
    Joumana…I’ll have to give this a try with ‘Sambuca’ and I’ll hold back a little on the sugar ;o)

    Great recipe!

  52. Mon Petit Chou says:

    This. Is. Brilliant.

    Shukran Jazeelan!


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