One of my favourite lady friends just celebrated her 23rd birthday, and to ring in the beginning of her 24th year I baked her this delightfully girly cake. This recipe is perhaps a little complicated, and unless you have biceps like Agatha Trunchbull you will definitely need an electric beater, but it tastes divine and preparing it makes for an enjoyable afternoon of very busy baking! Don your favourite frilly apron (I rather like this one) and get cooking, your favourite lady friend will thank you!
My super cute new electric beater, you will need one of these!
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Meringue & Raspberries
What you will need:
- 2/3 cup softened unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 6 eggs, separated
- 350g good quality bitter dark chocolate (I used the 60% cocoa variety)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
For the meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped (see here for how to prepare them)
- 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
- Fresh raspberries and thickened cream to serve
What you will need to do:
1. Preheat your oven to 180 C and line the bottom of a 20cm spring form cake tin with baking paper. Grease the sides of the cake tin and set aside.
2. Cream brown sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is pale and creamy. In a separate bowl melt the dark chocolate, I always melt chocolate using this method.
3. Using an electric mixer, add egg yolks to the butter / sugar mixture one at a time and beat gently until all ingredients are combined. Add melted chocolate and vanilla essence and beat well. Your batter should be like a thick chocolate mousse in texture.
4. This is where things get a little bit tricky. In yet another bowl, beat six egg whites until they begin to stiffen and form soft peaks. Make sure your bowl and beaters are clean and dry before commencing this step, any unwanted moisture will spoil your eggs! Stir about a third of the egg whites through the cake batter - you can stir this first third through the mixture quite vigorously - then carefully fold through the remaining egg whites. Be sure to fold the whites thorough gently, otherwise your cake mixture will separate and become slippery and sloppy rather than creamy. I would suggest using a spatula at this step, and try to fold the cake batter over itself rather than stirring it in a circular motion, folding is preferable to stirring as it retains the air in the eggs.
5. Pour the mixture into your greased cake tin and bake for approximately half an hour. Meanwhile, prepare your meringue. (More egg whites!) Beat four egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until eggs begin to stiffen and form peaks, then carefully add the white sugar a little bit at a time, continue to beat until the mixture stiffens up. Your meringue mixture is ready when you can turn your mixing bowl upside down without the whites falling out. Once the whites are at this point, fold through chopped hazelnuts and chocolate. As above, I would suggest using a spatula, and fold the mixture as little as possible.
6. After about half an hour in the oven your cake should be firming up nicely, a little bit of a jiggle is ok, but make sure your cake has begun to cook through before beginning this next step. Remove your cake from the oven and spread the meringue mixture over the top of the cake. I spread my meringue mixture with a spatula and then used a fork to create some cute little swirly peaks. Return the cake to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the meringue has hardened and is browning slightly.
7. Remove your cake from the oven and stand aside for at least half an hour before removing from the tin. Don't be alarmed if your meringue has puffed up - my cake looked like it was wearing a meringue chef's hat when it first came out of the oven - but never fear! After thirty minutes cooling your meringue should have fallen a bit. Run a knife around the edge of the cake tin to loosen the cake before turning it out. Allow the cake to cool before serving.
I served my cake with blobs of thickened cream and fresh raspberries. You can top your cake with whatever you like, but I would recommend something tart to cut through the richness of the chocolate and the sugary meringue. I must also point out that this cake is incredibly unhealthy! It is high in sugar, high in fat, and presumalby bad for one's cholesterol. In the words of the immortal Cookie Monster, this cake is a sometimes food. Still, doesn't it look lovely?
PS. Happy Birthday Sarah! I'm glad you liked your cake, now take Cookie Monster's advice and eat some healthy greens...