French chocolate cakes are great for kids as they contain less sugar than their American counterpart. They are usually smaller, contain less ingredients, and have no frosting on top. Everyday French cakes are easier to make and less fattening. They do not contain any artificial food coloring. In short, they are healthier, while still being delicious.
Today , I am making “Le gâteau au chocolat des écoliers”, which literally means “the school children’s chocolate cake”. You can find the recipe in French here.
This is my kids’ favorite chocolate cake. I make it all the time in France and kids love to help. It is our go-to cake whenever we are asked to bring a dessert at any party. Always a hit with both kids and adults!
My goal is to find ingredients that are as similar as possible as the French ingredients in the French recipe.
The French recipe calls for 1 pack of “Levure Chimique”, which is the leavening agent. “Levure” translates literally into “yeast” in English. But is it really the yeast they sell in US grocery stores? After extensive research, I found that the US equivalent to the French “Levure Chimique” actually is Baking Powder.
But baking powder is not sold in little packs in the US so what is the equivalent of 1 pack of French “Levure Chimique”? I found that one pack contains 11 grams so the recipe calls for 11 grams of baking powder.
The French recipe calls for “Dark Chocolate”. In France, the go-to chocolate for baking is Nestle Dessert Dark Chocolate. This is the baking chocolate everyone buys, there aren’t many other options. In the US, you have a choice: there is bittersweet, semisweet, unsweetened…Which one is equivalent to the French dark chocolate? I decided to go with the unsweetened chocolate, which seemed to be the closest to the French baking chocolate. That being said, the unsweetened chocolate has a somewhat bitter taste. If your kids are not used to it, opt for bittersweet chocolate instead.
Thankfully, the other ingredients are easy to find.
Here is the full list of ingredients you need for the cake:
|7 oz. (200g.) Bittersweet Baking Chocolate|
|4.4 oz. (125g.) Unsalted Butter|
|7 oz. (200g.) Granulated Sugar|
|3.5 oz. (100g.)All Purpose Flour|
|0.4 oz. (11g.) Baking Powder|
Now let’s make the cake!
Step 1: Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, which roughly equals 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Melt the chocolate. You can do this several ways. I like using the microwave because it is fast and easy. Just add 3 tablespoons of water to the chocolate when using the microwave.
Step 3: Mix the chocolate with the butter. The mixture should look like this:
Step 4: In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar until the mixture whitens. Then add the baking powder and the flour. It looks like this:
Step 5: Pour the melted chocolate and butter into the mixture you just prepared in step 4. Pour the resulting mixture into your baking pan (make sure you already buttered the pan to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan). This is what it should look like in the baking pan:
Step 6: Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Once it is ready, you can add powdered sugar on top to make it pretty.
ENJOY!!!! You can wait for it to cool down or eat it warm. It is delicious with vanilla ice cream!
So does the chocolate cake taste exactly the same as in France? Yes, and no. Prior to putting it in the oven, I tasted the mixture and it tasted the same. However, after baking it, the consistency was not quite the same and it tasted a little different.
My guess is this is probably due to the baking powder. While baking powder is the closest you can find in the US to the French “Levure Chimique,” it does not work in quite the same way. After doing more research, I found that US baking powder is double-acting. It contains two different types of acid that react at different times: one time when it is mixed with the liquid in the recipe, and another time, when the mixture is exposed to oven heat. The French “Levure Chimique” on the other hand, is single-acting. It creates the gas needed for leavening as soon as it is mixed with liquid ingredients. This probably explains the difference in the cake’s consistency.
So now the real question: Did the chocolate cake taste good? Yes! My kids loved it and so did my husband!
In summary, the chocolate cake did not taste exactly the same as when I make it in France, but it came very close to it. Most importantly, my kids loved it, and they ate a French cake that is much healthier than its American counterpart. I am very happy with the result!
Hope you enjoy making this delicious French Chocolate Cake for your kids!
Update 08/31: I found that you can buy the French “Levure Chimique” online. If you are interested in doing so, this is what you want to buy (use 1 little pack for the recipe):