VIDEO - Muddy flourless Valentine’s chocolate cake
I know we have had a few cakes recently but we didn’t need Valentine’s Day as an excuse to make this wonderful cake. It is by far my favourite chocolate cake recipe – muddy, light, gooey, slightly nutty – and it is flour-free so suitable for anyone with a gluten intolerance.
The recipe is based on a classic French cake called a “Reine de Saba” (Queen of Sheba). Reassuringly, you can find 1000 different variants of this recipe with 1000 different versions of quantities and proportions. This means that a little imprecision is not going to adversely affect the finished product at all. Most of the recipes you will find involve complex whisking, folding and creaming of the ingredients but I find the cake works just as well by throwing everything (bar the egg whites) in the same bowl and then mixing in the whisked whites at the end.
This cake even survived my Magimix breaking down (I am still in shock) and a 15 minute hiatus while I tried to repair it (and Archie lost the will to live and left the kitchen to seek refuge in “Mary Poppins”!). All in all, a toddler-proof cake which is as perfect for afternoon tea as it is for your finest dinner party.
Unusually, this cake may even be better after spending 24 hours in the fridge…
Muddy flourless Valentine’s chocolate heart cake
This cake easily gives 8 slices, probably more…
Preparation time (excluding machinery breakdown!) 15 minutes, cooking time 35 minutes.
Important note on quantities: my heart-shaped tin was not the largest (about 8 inches in height). If you are using a larger tin, or indeed a classic round 8-9 inch tin, don’t be afraid to add an extra egg and increase the quantities of the other ingredients. I have put the increased quantities in brackets in the ingredients list.
150g (or 180g for a larger cake) high quality dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids or greater)
120g (150g) ground almonds
120g (150g) fine caster sugar
120g (150g) unsalted butter
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated (5 if making a larger cake)
A pinch of salt
Icing sugar to dust the cake with
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F
Prepare your cake tin by lining the base with greaseproof paper and greasing the side with butter.
- Sit a bowl on a saucepan of barely simmering water. The bowl should not be touching the water. Put the chocolate it the bowl and and let it melt.
- When the chocolate has melted, mix in the butter and sugar until fully liquid.
- Separate the yolks and the egg whites. I find the easiest way to do this is crack the egg over a bowl then break it in half while keeping the bottom half pointing upwards so the yolk stays in it. Most of the egg white will instantly drain into the bowl. If you then pass the egg yolk from one half of the shell to the other, all the rest of the egg white will drop into the bowl below. You can pass the yolk as many times as you need to separate it fully from the whites. Alternatively you can also just break the egg into a bowl and scoop out the yolk with the egg shell. IMPORTANT – make sure no yolk is left in the egg whites bowl or else your whites will not whisk very well at all.
- Take the bowl off the pan, mix in the almonds and then the egg yolks one at a time. Leave that mixture to cool naturally to room temperature.
- While the chocolate mix is cooling, add a small pinch of salt to the egg whites (it helps the whites to whisk into stiff peaks) then beat the egg whites using an electric whisk, hand whisk or food mixer with whisk attachment until firm and fluffy (you know the whites are ready if you dip a whisk into them, pull it out and it leaves a stiff peak in the mix).
- Add a couple of spoonfuls of the whisked egg whites to the chocolate mix, just to loosen it up. Then add the rest of the whites and “fold” them in. This basically means don’t stir them heavily. Fold them in using a figure of 8 movement with the spoon. This preserves the air in the mix.
- Pour the cake mix into your prepared cake tin and put it in the middle of your oven for about 35 minutes (40 if using the bigger quantities).
- Take the cake out of the over, leave it to cool a little in its tin, then turn it out to cool on a rack (it’s not the end of the world if it cools on a plate).
- Put some icing sugar in a sieve and gently dust the top of the cake. Serve warm, cold or even the next day…