I am a sucker for late night television. I know I should be reading or sleeping. But often, when the house is quiet and finally mine at the end of the day, I find myself uncontrollably drawn into classic re-runs, police dramas or obscure cooking shows. And every so often, this pass-time (that many claim will rot my brain) pays off. Case in point - Chocolate Cloud Cake. Many years ago, during a late night television marathon, I stumbled across a program (apparently filmed sometime in the mid 1980's) all about chocolate. Immediately drawn away from a Homicide episode, and not deterred by the age of the film, I was intrigued by a show dedicated completely to my preferred food group.
Hosted by someone I did not recognise sporting a mega perm and huge glasses, the guest for this particular episode was an editor of what appeared to be a well regarded chocolate magazine. Despite a complete obliviousness to the identity of either the host, editor or the magazine, I watched on.
The show, while itself was not particularly memorable, will be imprinted forever in my mind as the source for this cake. You see, I am constantly searching for recipes that are naturally dairy free. Hence my excitement as while watching the segment, it appeared the cake contained no butter and could be a welcome addition to my collection. The original ingredients list, quantities and method were literally scribbled on the back of a piece of paper straight from the television. A recipe copied down from a show whose name remains a mystery, and hosts, guests and a publication I have never seen again.
Was it all a dream? Maybe, but there is a decadent chocolate cake at the end which is a hit at my table time and time again. To this day I have no idea if I accurately transcribed the recipe, or if when it was presented on the program if they demonstrated it with all the ingredients in tact, but this version works.
I also adapt the original every year for Passover, replacing the flour with ground almonds. This cake is akin to a set chocolate mousse and makes a perfectly rich and decadent end to any feast. Which makes it a double Passover bonus, as only a thin slice of this is required to satiate even the most serious chocoholic, and a 22cm cake feeds a lot of people.
For all of you celebrating, feast well. For those of you who do not celebrate, this is a wonderful cake either with flour or ground almonds. And is not only Passover friendly, but allergy friendly too which is almost more useful.
Chocolate Cloud Cake
To give the moist, mousse like consistency, this cake cooks in a bain-marie (water bath). Make sure you have a roasting tin large enough to take the springform tin.
This needs nothing more than a little icing sugar or cocoa sprinkled on top and is delicious served with strawberries orroast spiced rhubarb
200g (1 cup) sugar
180ml (3/4 cup) freshly brewed coffee
7oz dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
60g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
80g (1/3 cup) ground almonds / almond flour
6 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
squeeze of lemon juice
Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
Grease and line a 22cm (9 inch) springform tin with parchment paper or liner and wrap the outside of the base and sides with foil to insulate. Fill a roasting tin with an inch of water and put into preheated oven to warm. (I also like to put an old tea towel on the bottom of the roasting tin to keep the cake still while cooking.)
Place the sugar in a saucepan and add the freshly brewed coffee. Bring to the boil, turn down heat to low and add chopped chocolate. Once melted, turn off heat an stir.
Add cocoa, salt, egg yolks and vanilla to the melted chocolate. Mix well and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. After resting add ground almonds.
Meanwhile, while the chocolate is cooling, whisk egg whites with the pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon until soft peaks form.
Stir in 1/4 of the egg whites into the cooled chocolate mixture to lighten it. Once combined, add chocolate mixture to the remaining egg whites. Fold carefully making sure not to knock out too much air from the batter. Make sure there are no whites left showing.
Pour into pan and place carefully into the bain marie. Top up with recently boiled water if the water does not come half way up the sides of the springform tim. Cook for 35 minutes.
Remove the cake from the bain-marie and remove the foil from the outside of the tin. Cool completely in tin before removing onto a serving plate.
Before serving dust with icing sugar or cocoa.