Supremely Decadent Chocolate Cloud Cake
Ooooh yes. This is one mother of a decadent cake. There is literally nothing in it but dark chocolate, butter, eggs and a little sugar. And a heck of a lot of cream. Serious amounts of cream. Mmmmmm....
This was a last minute addition to the spread at the hen's party afternoon tea a few weeks, and was easily the most popular dessert item. I mean, a party of 25 women? A dense chocolately cake covered in whipped cream? Sheesh, just try to fight the women for that! Those and the dark chocolate custard tarts....
It was actually kind of funny to watch the deliberations and expressions on people's faces:
"Oooohh....I know I shouldn't. I'm trying to go low-carb at the moment. You know, foods with a low GI rating...but that really does look good....."
Hey, I can sympathise: I'm trying to do the same thing. Heck, I haven't had a potato in months. But, let's be realistic here; it's a hen's party. An afternoon of pure fun and indulgence.
Eat the cake.
I mean, just look at it.......
I could have projected the thought, but I just gave them the eye and instructed them to eat it. Sometimes you just need a bossy person to tell you to throw caution to the wind.
So, most of them lost (or won?) their internal battle and ate the cake, and phwoarrrr, it was a good feeling. The bitter intensity of the dark chocolate and the relief of the great snow drifts of softly whipped cream. Yes, very rich - only small slices needed. And I smiled at their showers of laud and honour for my baking skills because this is really one damn simple cake to make. It doesn't require any special skills, ingredients, techniques or equipment, but creates such a huge impression. Apparently you can add a block of chocolate to the whipped cream to make a chocolate whipped cream topping....can you imagine how rich that would be??!
I added the optional orange flavourings to the recipe which gave it a really pleasant hint of orange. It was a less intense flavour than my previous flourless chocolate orange cake, but still worked really well with the dark chocolate. I think this is a cake that Plum would swoon over. I know I watched my friend's mother nearly fall over sideways at her first bite. :-)
Read on for the recipe:
There are recipes all over the place for this sort of flourless fallen chocolate souffle cake, including a fabulous sounding version in my newly acquired "Chocolate & the art of low fat desserts" by Alice Medrich, which I hope to make soon. But I used the version published by Nigella in...one of her cookbooks I don't have. But it's easily available on her website.
Chocolate Cloud Cake (click on the link for US measurements)
The cake itself is as richly and rewardingly sustaining: a melting, dark, flourless, chocolate base, the sort that sinks damply on cooling; the fallen centre then cloudily filled with softly whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder. As Richard Sax says 'intensity, then relief, in each bite'.
250g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
125g unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
175g caster sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau (optional)
grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
23cm springform cake tin
for the cream topping:
500ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
half teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.
Line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment.
Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate.
Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 75g of the caster sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and orange zest.
In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the 100g of sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape but not too stiff. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in its tin on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools.
When you are ready to eat, place the still tin-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake from its tin. Don't worry about cracks or rough edges: it's the crater look we're going for here. Whip the cream until it's soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer.
A Niki Note: Don't whip your cream too early, as it tends to deflate and not hold its shape and want to run off the sides, which really isn't the effect we're going for here. I had to scrape off nearly half and whip mine again just before serving because I'd tried to be too organised and whipped my cream first thing in the morning.