Sorry. I am deviating from the format YET AGAIN and not including any dialogue. The problem, once again, is I made this for my book club and it’s difficult for us to stay on one topic for long.
Flourless chocolate cake is one of those things that might appear to be really complicated and quite difficult to make, but actually the opposite is true. The trick is to beat the egg whites into submission. Show no mercy. If the egg whites are nice and stiff, the cake will work. I’ve decided that the best way to describe the consistency you need is to say that it should be like shaving foam. The fact that it looks an awful lot like it helps matters.
Also, the other thing to bear in mind, is no matter how stiffly you beat the egg whites, the cake is still going to fall once it’s out of the oven. Don’t sweat it. It’s still delicious. If you’re going to make Nigella Lawson’s Easter Egg Cake from Feast (a firm favourite over here), you cover the collapse by putting even more chocolate on to the top. It’s a delicious solution, but unnecessary. Learning to live with imperfection is a better solution, not least because it will make life easier altogether.
Here’s a fine example of me learning to live with imperfection. See how it’s collapsed? I shrugged it off. I knew it would taste good, and it did.
This is the fourth time I’ve made flourless chocolate cake for this blog. I’ve also done versions from Angela Hartnett (best one so far), Lucas Hollweg (which I describe as a flourless chocolate jaffa cake, which was also delicious) and Leon (a layer cake version of a flourless chocolate cake, with creme fraiche as the filling).
Funnily enough, when I made the Angela Hartnett version, it was also for my book club. This version also met with universal delight. Then again, everyone had said they’d had a long day, so maybe a nice slice of chocolate cake was just what everyone needed.
The major way that this cake differed from the others was that you melted the butter and chocolate together. This resulted in a much lighter cake than normal, and made it almost souffle-like. Had the butter just been softened, as per normal, it would have resulted in a much denser cake. This recipe was like the others, though, in that I did have to use mutiple bowls. The clean up was worth it, but still, multiple bowls seems to be a theme of this cookbook.
Would I make it again? Indeed I would. It’s a dead heat as to which flourless chocolate cake is better, this one or Angela Hartnetts. Make either one and you won’t be disappointed. Just remember to show the egg whites who’s boss.
Due to popular demand from my book club, this is the recipe:
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE from “The Primrose Bakery Book”
200g good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
200g unsalted butter, plus more for greasing tin
4 large eggs, free-range or organic, separated
220g golden caster sugar
Cocoa powder if icing sugar, sifted, for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease and line one 23cm cake tin (preferably one with a removable base.)
Melt the chocolate pieces and the butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring continually. In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks with half of the caster sugar, using an electric hand mixer. Fold in the melted chocolate and butter until well combined.
In a separate, clean bowl and using a whisk or an electric hand mixer, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and beat in the remaining sugar. Fold this mixture into the first bowl with the other ingredients, being careful not to overmix otherwise you will knock too much air out of the mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in its tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
This cake will have a fairly sticky, fudge-like consistency and would be delicious served warm or col, on its own, or with some cream or ice cream. You could dust the top with some cocoa or icing sugar before serving if desired. Any uneaten cake will keep very well for a good few days either in an airtight container or wrapped in clingfilm and stored at room temperature.