This decadent Spiced Chocolate Cake with Caramelized White Chocolate Sauce would make a fabulous presentation for your “Valentine Dinner” or for any other special occasion!

I attended a seminar last month from a wonderful pastry chef, David Lebovitz.

David worked 13 years at Chez Panisse in Berkley, California and was named one of the “Top Five Pastry Chefs in the Bay Area” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

He now lives in Paris and has recently released his new book Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes

He shared this delicious recipe:

Spiced Chocolate Cake with Caramelized White Chocolate Sauce

Makes six cakes

  • 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon brandy or rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • big pinch of ground cloves
  • a few turns freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Butter six heatproof souffle ramekins. Dust the insides with sugar and tap out any excess.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in half of the sugar, then the yolks. Then mix in the vanilla, brandy, and spices.

4. In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites until fairly stiff. Beat in the sugar, and whisk until the whites form soft, droopy peaks.

5. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder, just until incorporated. Don’t overfold.

6. Divide the batter into the prepared cups.

7. Bake the cakes for 10 to 12 minutes, just until the tops feel firm. Once done, remove the cakes from oven and cool while making the sauce.

baked chocolate spice cakes

Caramelized White Chocolate Sauce

All white chocolate is different, so keep an eye on it while baking so it’s the right color; dark, like a cup of coffee with a
touch of cream in it.

  • 12 ounces white chocolate, preferably Valrhona Ivoire (or in a pinch as I used here, Nestle’s White Chocolate Chips)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup milk, half-and-half or heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 250F.

1. If the white chocolate is in a block, chop it into coarse pieces.

2. Distribute the white chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet and heat for ten minutes.

3. Remove it from the oven and spread it with a clean, dry spatula.

4. Continue to cook for an additional 40-60 minutes, stirring at 10 minute intervals. At some point it may look lumpy and chalky but keep stirring and it will smooth out and caramelize.

5. Cook until the white chocolate is deep-golden brown, and caramelized. Stir in a good pinch of sea salt.

6. Let cool slightly and then put the caramelized white chocolate in a blender, add the milk or cream and blend until it is nice and velvety smooth.

Candied Tangerine Peels

  • 5 tangerines, unsprayed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup


Using a vegetable peeler remove a 1-inch wide strip of colored zest from the tangerines, cutting longitudinally, being careful to leave as much of the bitter white skin underneath behind as possible.

With a sharp knife, cut the pieces of peel lengthwise into very thin thread-like strips.

Put the peel in a medium-sized saucepan, add enough water to cover generously, bring to a boil, and cook until the peel is soft and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.

Drain the peel and discard the water.

In the same saucepan, bring 2 cups of water, sugar, and corn syrup to boil. Add the drained peel, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the peel is translucent and the syrup is thick, about 20 minutes. (If you wish to use a candy thermometer, it should read about 210F.)

NOTE If the syrup has thickened so much after refrigeration that you can’t remove the peel, or if the syrup has crystallized, reheat the peel in the syrup with a few tablespoons of water.

Place one spiced chocolate cake on a dessert plate, drizzle the caramelized white chocolate sauce around the cake, and garnish with a few candied tangerine peels.

I will be sharing more of David’s recipes in this month’s free newsletter.