I don’t believe it’s possible to have too much chocolate, regardless of how much of it we’ve stuffed into our faces over the past month – nor do I believe we need a special occasion to indulge either.
So here’s yet another devastatingly good chocolate confection that’s wheat free, moist (due to the ground almonds) and lighter than you’d expect, thanks to the meringue that’s folded into the mix before baking.
There are many versions of flourless chocolate cake; for instance Bête Noire is a classic and a huge crowd-pleaser if you’re in the right frame of mind for eating a giant truffle. If you prefer a nuttier-tasting cake, the Chocolate Hazelnut Torte is one of the best…and then there’s the one you don’t bake at all that’s choc-full of puréed French chestnuts (Le Turinois) – but for now, it’s chocolate with ground almonds – absolutely delicious and because it freezes well, you won’t feel you have to eat the whole thing alone…but then again, you might.
Note: you’ll need a few large mixing bowls and an electric whisk/beater. *Green & Black’s Organic Cocoa Powder is available online (and probably from gourmet food shops such as Whole Foods) – it’s by far the best but if you can’t find it, use the best quality unsweetened cocoa available.
7 oz (200g) of best quality dark chocolate (min 65% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
5 1/2 oz (150g) of unsalted butter at room temp
5 eggs, separated
7 oz (200g) of fine (caster) sugar
3 tablespoons of espresso or strong black coffee
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of *Green & Black’s organic cocoa powder
3 1/2 oz (100g) of ground almonds / almond meal
Powdered (icing) sugar for dusting
Lightly grease a 9 inch (22cm) spring-form cake pan and line the base with baking parchment.
Put the chocolate and butter in a covered bowl over a pan of water that just boiled (turn the heat off and make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water). After about 8-10 minutes, give it a good stir until it’s totally melted and glossy. Set aside to cool for a bit.
Pre-heat the oven to 365F (185C).
In a separate bowl, beat half of the sugar into the egg yolks until they’re pale and thick then fold this into the cooled melted chocolate and butter.
Mix the ground almonds, baking powder and cocoa together (I use a clean dry whisk) and fold this into the chocolate-egg mixture, followed by the coffee. Stir everything carefully but thoroughly (no more whisking or beating).
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually whisk in the remaining sugar a small amount at a time.
Finally, fold in the beaten egg whites in four batches, using a large metal spoon and with a cutting motion. You don’t want to deflate the egg whites. Once everything is thoroughly combined, spoon it into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes in the pre-heated oven, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.
Once cooled, remove the cake from the pan and dust it with powdered sugar.
I like to serve it with a blob of crème fraîche and whatever pretty berries or fruits are in season.