Months back, I was tasked to bring dessert for a dinner gathering. As a close girlfriend of mine had very generously gifted boxes of Valrhona chocolate before leaving for Paris, I knew I had to make something with chocolate.
With chocolate, the possibilities are endless. I remember deciding between a rich double chocolate tart or a flourless chocolate cake. I eventually decided on the latter as I thought it would be easier on the stomach after a heavy meal.
For this cake, I used 64% Manjari chocolate. Of the entire range of Valrhona chocolate, this one is apparently decribed as “fresh, acidic, sharp with red fruit notes”.
Using quality chocolate in baking is a luxury. To answer whether it is really necessary to spend on quality chocolate, I would say, it depends. But for baked goods such as the flourless chocolate cake or brownies where chocolate comprises a large percentage, I would strongly recommend you to use fine chocolate. It would make all the difference.
Making this cake can be a little technical as it requires the egg whites to be folded in last. It is also important not to overbeat the egg whites while trying to achieve a shiny meringue. The recipe also requires quite a number of steps but the end result is worth it.
The cake puffs up during baking and collapses once it is removed from the oven to form a dense centre. The top part remains crisp for the first couple of hours after baking, adding another texture to the cake. Boy was I glad to be greeted by the cracks and sunken top, a characteristic of flourless chocolate cakes. That to me was a sign of success.This cake is very, very intense. Not for the faint-hearted. A pity I did not manage to get a picture of the insides of the cake. It is all kinds of things in one — dark, rich, smooth and fudgy. Rich like a mud cake but also light and fluffy like a soufflé. Its edges are chewy like a brownie and its top crisp.
This cake holds up at room temperature well which makes it ideal for dinner parties. I’m glad it was a hit at the gathering.
Bourke Street Bakery’s Flourless Chocolate Cake (Recipe from Bourke Street Bakery: The Ultimate Baking Companion)
260 g dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 64%)
135 ml milk
40 g plain yoghurt
105 g caster sugar for the above eggs
4 egg whites, additional to the above eggs
160 g of caster sugar, for the above egg whites
135 ml pouring cream
55 g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Grease a 20cm (8 inch) spring form or removable bottom cake tin.
Place the chopped dark chocolate into a large stainless steel bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Allow the water in the saucepan for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and stir the chocolate while it slowly melts. Or you may also use the microwave method to melt the chocolate.
Put the milk and yoghurt in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to boil. Turn off the heat – you should of curdled the milk mixture.
Put all 4 eggs and the sugar in a bowl in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk the eggs on medium speed for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has doubled in volume.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then slowly add the sugar for the whites, whisking until the soft peaks form a shiny meringue. Be careful not to overwhisk. Place in the refrigerator.
Whisk the cream until soft peaks form and place in the refrigerator until needed.
Gather all the components together on the bench; you should have with you the melted chocolate, curdled milk, whipped eggs, meringue, whipped cream and sifted cocoa powder.
Pour the curdled milk into the chocolate and use a whisk to mix it in, then add the sifted cocoa and whisk until completely incorporated. Fold in the whipped eggs in three batches, making sure you completely incorporate the first batch before adding more.
Lightly fold the meringue into the whipped cream, taking care not to knock too much air out of the mix. Fold this into the chocolate mix in three batches, making sure you incorporate the first batch before adding more.
Using a spatula, scoop the cake batter into the prepared tin and tap it twice gently on your bench top to even out the mix. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. If you can smell the cake cooking within the first 25 minutes your oven is too hot and you need to drop the temperature. You should start checking at 1 hour as your oven may differ slightly. Mine took 1 hour and 15 minutes. Use a cake skewer to test the centre.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before unmoulding.
It is best to use a sharp-bladed knife to cut this cake. Have a jug of boiled water on hand, dip the knife in, leave for about 10 seconds to warm the blade through. Dry the knife with a tea towel and then cut. Repeat this with each slice to achieve a perfectly clean cut.
*Note: I will be limited in posting recipes from cookbooks due to copyright issues.