Chocolate Treasure Cake

Chocolate Treasure Cake
Ed Anderson
  • Yield: 4-6 servings

Note: A wooden chest found at a home décor store makes an authentic or more mature look for this dish, or you could use a toy pirate’s chest for a kid’s party. Make sure the box is clean; you can also line the chest with plastic if it is made from a porous or difficult-to-clean material.


Nonstick cooking spray
2cups unsalted butter
1 1/2pounds semisweet chocolate, chopped
2tablespoons vanilla extract
6tablespoons strong-brewed espresso, cooled
1cup all-purpose flour
1tablespoon baking powder
1teaspoon table salt
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4cup semisweet chocolate chips
1cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Chocolate Ganache Sauce
9ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1cup heavy whipping cream
1tablespoon dark rum (optional)
To assemble
1 1/2cups graham cracker crumbs
Chocolate gold coins
2cups vanilla ice cream


  1. For the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Melt the butter with the chopped semisweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Remove from the heat and let the chocolate mixture cool slightly. Add the vanilla and espresso to the melted chocolate and whisk to combine. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until pale yellow and thickened, about 4 minutes. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  2. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until the top is shiny and slightly cracked, the edges are set, and the center is still a bit jiggly. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares. The size and shape of your squares will depend on what kind of “treasure chest” you are using. Feel free to estimate what size squares will fit into your treasure chest and cut to fit 2 to 4 squares inside. You can also stack them for a taller presentation.
  3. For the chocolate ganache sauce: Put the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof mixing bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum, if desired, and serve warm.
  4. To assemble and serve: Place the treasure chest on a tray and then pile the ground graham cracker crumbs all around as if the chest has just been unearthed from the sand or dropped into the sand after being pulled from the ocean floor. Make the “sand” uneven and messy to look like a real sand dune or beach. Place the gold coins around the chest as if they have been dug out and hastily put into pockets—spilling all over the beach. Once you have your sandy landscape, assemble the brownie squares inside the treasure chest, sprinkling graham cracker crumbs under and around the brownies. Top with vanilla ice cream and the warm chocolate ganache sauce. Serve immediately.

Recipe from The Big Dish: Recipes to Dazzle and Amaze from America’s Most Spectacular Restaurant by Barton G. Weiss (Rizzoli, 2014)