“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot
for a lot of people; it does for me.”
The history of chocolate cake goes a long way back to 1764, when Dr. James Baker discovered how to make chocolate by grinding cocoa beans between two massive circular millstones. This cake would have not been flourless however.
In 1828, Conrad Van Houten of the Netherlands developed a mechanical extraction method for extracting the fat from cacao liquor resulting in cacao butter and the partly defatted cacao, a compacted mass of solids that could be sold as it was “rock cacao” or ground into powder.
The processes transformed chocolate from an exclusive luxury to an inexpensive daily snack, affordable by most. A process for making silkier and smoother chocolate called conching was developed in 1879 by Swiss Rodolphe Lindt and made it easier to bake with chocolate as it amalgamates smoothly and completely with cake batters. Until 1890 to 1900, chocolate recipes were mostly for drinks. WHAT a waste!!!
A flourless chocolate cake is a dense “fallen” cake made from an aerated chocolate custard. Whole eggs are whipped to a foam in a manner similar to a Génoise cake, using low heat from the melted chocolate to stabilise the protein matrix. The resulting batter contains only the starch naturally present in the chocolate.
Flourless chocolate cake is a popular dessert at gluten-free dinner parties. And although it looks untidy, it tastes sublime.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
200g of your BEST chocolate
2 tablespoons of sloe gin
4 eggs, best quality, seperated
200g caster sugar
Grease and dust cocoa powder onto a 23cm SPRINGFORM tin, line the base. This tin is essential, as it is next to near impossible to transfer this cake out of another tin type. Preheat your oven to 180oC, 160oC fan.
Melt the butter, alcohol, chocolate and a drop of vanilla essence together, slowly, in a bowl over hot water. Making sure, as always that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Leave to cool slightly.
Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and half the sugar in your mixer until, like as if making a genoise sponge, it leaves a ribbon on the mixture once you remove the whisk. It will be beautifully light and airy.
In another bowl, (sorry about the washing up) whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 100g of caster sugar to this and whisk until you have a lovely meringue, shiny and stiff.
Fold the chocolate carefully into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Then add a large spoon of the meringue into this, once again carefully folding and folding. Add the rest of the meringue, remembering that you don’t want the air you have worked so hard to get into the cake mix to come out, so take your time and be gentle.
Transfer this to your tin and carefully place in the oven.
Cook for 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. It WILL sink. Promise. Leave to cool in the tin, then carefully transfer to a serving plate. Serve with lots of fresh fruit and some softly whipped cream. Divine.
And here’s a little compilation to show you the stages of sunkeness- how low can you go…..