It was my turn to host my book group this week. We have informal rules about supper that we sort of stick to: cheese, crackers, maybe dip or pate, and something sweet. I know one of the members is gluten free, so there are always rice crackers – but what about that “something sweet”? So I hunted through my cake file and found a flourless chocolate cake I’d never made before, from Ray McVinnie. He says he got it from Glenn, a colleague at the School of Hospitality and Tourism at AUT. He says it’s “the true chocoholic’s cake, which needs nothing with it except cream…a little goes a long way.” You really do need an electric whisk or beater for this – unless you’ve got Wonderwoman arms.
Glenn’s flourless chocolate cake
300g dark chocolate, chopped
(Annoyingly, one block of Whittaker’s Dark Ghana is 250g – I reckon you could probably get away with that.)
90g brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 Tbsp brandy
150ml creme fraiche, whipped to soft peaks (don’t overwhip), then refrigerated
cocoa and whipped cream, for serving
– Preheat oven to 175C. Line the bottom of a 23cm diameter non-stick cake tin with baking paper.
– Either put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt it slowly over a saucepan of barely simmering water, then stir it until it’s smooth; or put it in a large heatproof glass jug and microwave it for 2 minutes, then stir it gently with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth. (If it hasn’t quite got to melting, give it short bursts of time – say 30 seconds. The pieces don’t look as if they have melted, but when you start to stir them, you find they have.) Set the bowl or jug of chocolate aside.
– Get out your electric whisk. Put the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, zest and brandy in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and beat until the mixture is very thick, pale and creamy. This takes what seems like quite a long time.
– Take off the heat and beat with electric whisk until cold – or put into electric mixer and then whisk it. Add chocolate in a steady stream (this is where the jug comes in handy), whisking continuously.
– Fold in the creme fraiche. Pour mixture into cake tin. Boil a jugful of water.
– Place cake tin in a large roasting pan. Fill pan with enough hot water to come 3/4 of the way up the sides of the cake tin. Let mixture settle for 10 minutes.
– Place roasting pan with cake tin in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and take cake tin out of water.
– Cool cake completely before turning out onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Peel off paper and dust cake with cocoa through a sieve.
Serve in wedges with whipped cream.
I didn’t turn mine upside down as I should have, as the photo shows – but it still looked good and tasted sensational. Not fudgy, just very dense and dark and rich. I’ll be making this again – wonderful for dessert, though I think in that case I might disobey Ray and serve it with a little fruit of some kind – maybe apricot puree – as well as the whipped cream.