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Flourless chocolate cakes are to be found on the menus of many sophisticated restaurants nowadays. The following recipe is a family secret. It was handed down to me by my grandmother’s sister, whose husband was a master chef. She passed the recipe on to him (her only son) when she died, having withheld it for years from her daughter-in-law.
The recipe is not difficult to follow, and the results are nothing short of heavenly. Falling somewhere between a super moist chocolate soufflé, with a delicately crisp crust, this cake will inflate while baking. It will fall as it cools, so don’t panic. It absolutely must have a minimum of twenty minutes to cool before you remove the baking tin, or even though sublimely tasty, it will be almost impossible to slice.
Classic Flourless Chocolate Cake (Topped with a Cloud of Whipped Cream)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup coffee liqueur
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted in a Bain Marie
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, (icing sugar) for dusting
2 cups whipped cream, as accompaniment
4 oz unmelted bitter chocolate (for topping)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 10-inch baking tray (with a loose bottom, and spring clipped side) with a smear of melted butter. A tip; wrap the outside of the whole tray with foil to prevent leakage.
Cut two circles of greaseproof paper the size of the base of the tin, and place over the bottom of the pan. Smear generously again with melted butter.
Grate the 4oz of chocolate using a coarse grater. Tip; place the chocolate in the freezer for half an hour, before grating. Ensure you place the covered bowl containing the grated chocolate back into the freezer as soon as it is ready. About half an hour before you are ready to decorate the whipped cream topping, remove the grated chocolate from the freezer, and leave covered in the fridge.
Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or mixer fitted with the whipping attachment, and whip on high speed, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is very thick and fluffy. This will take at least ten minutes, and is important you take your time here, or the cake will be undersized. Fold in the liqueur and mix well.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and beat until well blended. The mix may look separated at this point, but do not worry. The chocolate will blend with the butter correcting this. With the processor on low speed, add the chocolate and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake moves as one mass when you gently wiggle the pan, which is usually around half an hour. If anything, err on the side of under-baking. All it means is that the middle will be a bit gooier than usual, not disastrous by any means. As irresistible as it is, you absolutely MUST let it cool for at least twenty minutes. Then, remove the foil and outer ring from the baking tin, and allow to sit at least another half an hour.
Now you have options: you may wish to simply dust the top of the cake with white powdered (icing) sugar, then scatter the grated chocolate on the top, or you may wish to apply masses of soft whipped cream to the top, and then the grated chocolate. If you go for the whipped cream topping, you should do this just before serving.
The cake is supposed to serve twelve. It rarely lasts longer than two days with my family!
Recipe courtesy of Barry Hooper