.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

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)
Nigella Lawson

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.
Serves 8-12

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.


  • I love this recipe too. It is so simple and creates fabulous results! Did you add extra cocoa onto the sides, its looks extra cloudy - which is a good thing! Great job :)

    By Blogger deborah, at 9/28/2005 07:21:00 pm  

  • It's an excellent recipe. No, that's just the natural crispy chocolatey crust happening there - only cocoa sprinkled on the top. Yum!

    By Blogger Niki, at 9/28/2005 07:25:00 pm  

  • Oh wow, all these wonderful cakes, and stuff I could do for my Dad too. Crikey - I better get baking!!!

    By Blogger FactoBrunt, at 9/28/2005 08:59:00 pm  

  • Phhowoar! What a cake! I think I've gained a couple of kilos just looking at it!

    By Blogger cin, at 9/28/2005 11:01:00 pm  

  • You are dead on, Niki: this is a perfect cake for a hen's party. The only improvement would be a little more alcohol! (just kidding)

    By Blogger Nic, at 9/28/2005 11:52:00 pm  

  • Oh...my.

    I can feel fat cells forming simply from looking at your pictures.

    Won't stop me from making it for others though, will it?!!


    By Blogger Stephanie, at 9/29/2005 02:03:00 am  

  • this cake is from the late richard sax's classic home desserts. such a wonderful wonderful book. there is a white chocolate version i believe on the leite's cuinaria site.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/29/2005 03:33:00 am  

  • that cake is putting me in a trance! yummmmmm.

    By Blogger tanvi, at 9/29/2005 04:32:00 am  

  • Hi, I just wanted to tell you that I think the pictures of that cake are beautiful. In addition to my own food blog, I blog for a site called Slashfood, and I put up a post about your cake photos on there.


    By Blogger Nick, at 9/29/2005 06:04:00 am  

  • ha! I can see veganism didn't last long on this site ;)

    By Blogger Sam, at 9/29/2005 08:25:00 am  

  • The first photo was nice, but that second photo is irresistable! I've never seen something look so rich and fudgy but light and fluffy at the same time!

    By Blogger Cathy, at 9/29/2005 10:16:00 am  

  • This looks so fantastic! What a scrumptious hens party it must have been! :)

    By Blogger Kelly, at 9/29/2005 11:18:00 am  

  • Hehehe Niki, you know me so well!!

    Would you believe that I have made this cake - but without any orange? It was a couple of years ago, Nigella wrote a piece for the New York Times about Easter cake, and it was presented as a chocolate-on-chocolate extravaganza (I almost put "eggstravaganza" there, but decided it was just too dreadful a pun!). The cake, the chocolate and cream topping and then tiny little pastel chocolate filled Easter eggs on top. I think the recipe's in Feast in this version.

    But it didn't mention orange as an option and now I feel decidedly put out! I will have to try it again.

    And I'm SO glad you finally got a copy of Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts. Did the waiting make the eventual arrival more exciting?

    By Blogger plum, at 9/29/2005 10:25:00 pm  

  • Oh man, yum!

    By Blogger Books and Tea For Two, at 9/30/2005 07:25:00 am  

  • That's hot. Looks sooooo delicious. Great photos. Do you think it was work as muffins?

    By Blogger Veruca Salt, at 9/30/2005 10:11:00 am  

  • Factobrunt -I look forward to seeing your efforts on your site!

    Cin - Yes, definitely not a healthy one!

    Nic - Actually, I forgot to put the Grand Marnier into the cream, so yes, it really could have benefited from more alcohol! :-)

    Stephanie - It will provoke gasps and eternal love from others if you make it!

    Anon - I'm not sure how I feel about a white chocolate version. White choc is so much sweeter that I think it would lose the interplay between the bitter chocolate and the cream. Well, that and the fact that I'm not a big white chocoalte lover!

    Tanvi - wake up!

    Nick - Thanks for the link! I went to check it out and noticed I'm getting lots of visitors from your site. Thank you!

    Sam - Not a chance!!!!

    Cathy - You're right - a really fudgy base and such light whipped cream. Actually, a small piece wasn't quite enough for me....

    Kelly - I should put up the photos of our food table from the party

    Plum - Yes! I've seen that version. I think there's a photo of it in one of the books and it looks like a serious heart attack on a plate. That was the one I meant when I said you could add a block of chocolate to the cream. Woweeee. However, that hasn't stopped me considering it to make!
    I've already loaned the Alice Medrich to a friend, who has fallen in love with it. I'm really looking forward to trying her recipes. And I love her tips for lowering fat in everyday recipe and baking. Have you tried her cottage cheese mock whipped cream?

    be_zen8 - thank you

    Veruca Salt - I'm not so sure how it would go as muffins. They'd be difficult to remove, unless you lined them, but lining is not advised because then the sides can't grip to the walls, and instead slide down and the whole cake becomes a pancake. If you do try it, I'd be very careful about cooking times too.
    I think one of the best dense chocolate cakes that works in muffin format is Nigella's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake. I've made them before; there's a link in the 'chocolate' section of the archive.

    By Blogger Niki, at 9/30/2005 12:36:00 pm  

  • I'm a newbie to chocolate cake making but this looks like a fabulous place to get my hands dirty. One question: the recipe says double cream but others are commenting that the cloud is light and fluffy whipped cream?
    I'd be grateful to receive an email clarifying this at bvhara@gmail.com

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9/07/2007 02:45:00 pm  

  • Hi Nikki, Love your site and still puzzled how you whip double cream... Double cream is that really thick stuff that has consistency of soft butter... or have I missed something? Yours faithfully, Mark

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9/10/2007 08:10:00 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home