First up. Let me explain why this cake. Anyone who knows me knows I hate dessert. Not hate exactly, but if it comes to ordering the Tarte aux Pommes or Crème Brûlée at a restaurant, I prefer looking up the cheese selection. Even better, let me flick a few pages back and pore over the starters again: grilled squid, pan-fried scallops, croquetas… Imagining these small plates takes me back to the anticipatory thrill of seating yourself down at a table, excited by the unknown – ready to open that first bottle and savour that first sip.
But! I have a huge love for chocolate (why doesn’t everyone serve a discreet square of dark chocolate with coffee like they do in France?) – and many years ago, to mark a very important occasion, I stumbled upon this recipe.
To be honest, it was the first time I’d ever made a cake. For the first time in my life, I had a sincere desire to bake because our baby Lilas (our first and only child) was about to turn one. It was an important, necessary task. There HAD to be a cake!
So here’s the recipe, and apart from reducing the cooking time and adding more chocolate than the original recipe, we have served this same cake for many birthdays since Lilas’ ‘premier anniversaire’.
(p.s. I have not ever since added the brandy or coffee. For me, spare the confusion, I adore savouring each one on their own)
(p.p.s. If you are a lover of wine like me, you’ll find this cake is a beautiful companion to wine, be it a sticky, sweet Rivesaltes-style dessert wine, a lovely red, a fresh white and why not, a glass of bubbles. There’s a pretty damn good one that I like to match it with too…
(adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s Chocolate and Almond Cake)
140g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher )
100g unsalted butter
100g ground (flour) almonds
100g castor sugar
3 eggs, separated
icing sugar (optional for sprinkling)
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius
Line a 18cm baking tin with baker paper
Melt the chocolate on the stove in a double-boiler/ bain-marie
When chocolate has melted add the butter
Stir together when melted and then add almond flour and sugar, mix well
Remove from heat
Lightly beat egg yolks and stir into mixture
Beat egg whites until firm and then fold slowly into mixture, pour into tin
Bake for 25-30 minutes for a softish centre (the original recipe says 40-45 minutes but I find the cake is dry and too cake-like)
Cool in tin and then remove
Serve with a dusting of icing sugar or surrounded by fresh strawberries or raspberries …and some sweet or sparkling wine 😺