When I got my hands on The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook (Rodale), which is organized by season, I flipped right to the summer section. There was no shortage of warm-weather temptations—green tomato hand pies, butterscotch and banana puddings, a sour cherry streusel pie—but the words “one bowl” spoke loudest at a time of year when turning on the oven feels like both an achievement and something that might get you committed.

As the authors Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell promised, the recipe itself came together quickly and simply; their definition of an “heirloom” recipe is that it’s delicious, is “(relatively) easy to make,” and uses readily available ingredients. This was my first attempt at grinding almonds into flour meal. I used a food processer, so it only took a few seconds, though I was a bit nervous about going too far and ending up with almond butter. Not that that would’ve been a crisis.

Since we’re more of a whiskey household than a rum one, I was ready to swap out the dark rum for bourbon, but I’m glad I didn’t (full disclosure, I used white rum from an unloved bottle of Bacardi at the back of the cabinet). The rum, honey, and chocolate combine to create a remarkable depth of flavor in both the batter and the finished cake and glaze. The authors claim “There will be fights over who gets to lick this batter bowl!” This is probably true, but there’s an easy solution: just make sure no one else is home when you bake it. Problem solved.

Like other flourless cakes I’ve had, the finished product was dense and fudgy, with a deep, rich, and intense flavor. I was really struck by how the honey held its own against the chocolate. The texture of the cake was on the gritty side, but I’m sure that was due to my newbie almond grinding, and that extra bit of texture wasn’t unwelcome. I served it with vanilla ice cream and a bit of mint.

In the book, blank lined sidebars are provided for each recipe, “so that you can keep your own notes and make each recipe your own,” as the authors explain. With that in mind, the first idea that occurred to me was that, between the almonds and the chocolate, this cake is already two-thirds of the way to entering Almond Joy territory. Something to experiment with next time.


Cooking spray

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons dark rum

3 large eggs

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), melted

1 cup natural (skin-on) almonds, finely ground


2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup sugar

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper. Coat the paper with cooking spray.

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder until well combined and light in texture. Beat in the honey and rum. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the melted chocolate and ground almonds.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached. (The cake will be set around the sides but be slightly fudgy in the center.) Let cool in the pan on a wire rack, then run a metal spatula around the side of the cake and invert. Pull off the paper and set right side up on a cake platter.

To make the glaze:

In a small saucepan, combine the honey and 3 tablespoons of water and bring to a simmer. Add the sugar and chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and whisk in the butter, whisking frequently, until the glaze has thickened but is of a spreading consistency, 20 to 30 minutes.

Spoon the glaze over the cake, allowing some to drip down the sides. Let stand until set.