It was my sister’s birthday at the weekend so I wanted to make her an awesome cake, but as she can’t have gluten, it needed to be gluten-free.
I was perusing my favourite baking book, The Great British Book of Baking, by Linda Collister, when I spotted a recipe for Death by Chocolate, which I had somehow never noticed before. Not only is it gluten-free, it’s also a real celebration cake, as it’s incredibly rich. The 500g of chocolate alone cost £5, so it’s definitely a ‘treat’ cake.
This seems like quite a simple recipe, and actually it is, but it takes quite a bit of patience, as you will see!
For the cake:
300g good quality dark chocolate (I used Green & Black’s Cooking Chocolate)
150g unsalted butter, diced
5 medium eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g caster sugar
For the topping:
200g good quality dark chocolate (I used Green & Black’s)
100ml double cream
Preheat oven to 180°/350°/gas 4 (160° for fan ovens.) Grease and line the base of a 22cm spring clip tin. (I used a 20cm tin and it worked fine.)
Break up the chocolate and put it in a heat-proof bowl with the butter over a pan of hot water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water, and don’t boil it or the chocolate will go all clumpy. Once it’s melted, take it off the pan and leave to cool whilst you whisk the eggs.
Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the vanilla and whisk for a few seconds to break up. Add the sugar and whisk on full power until pale, very thick and mousse-like and about five times the original volume.
The recipe says to whisk the egg mixture for about five minutes. I guess they had a better whisk than me as it took me more like ten minutes. The recipe says to test if it’s ready, lift out the whisk and if a thick, ribbon-like train of mixture falls back into the bowl and is still visible after five seconds, you can stop. I tried to take pictures:
I think I could have whisked it a bit more, the main reason I stopped was that I was worried my whist was about to blow up!
Anyway, next, you pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mousse, and as it’s much heavier, it sinks to the bottom. Very gently fold it together using a large metal spoon. This takes some time, as you have to be careful not to beat out all the lovely air bubbles you’ve created with the whisk. Here is how mine looked:
When it’s all mixed up, gently pour it into the tin, and bake.
The recipe says for 35 to 45 minutes but I went for about 25 and it was cooked, perhaps even slightly over done. My oven is completely rubbish though and always overcooks the top. The recipe says the centre should be just firm to the touch, and slightly moist under the crust, as it will keep on cooking after it comes out of the oven.
Stand the tin on a cooling rack and run a knife around the inside to loosen the cake. Leave until completely cold before taking it out of the tin. The recipe says it will rise to the top of the tin and then skin as it cools. Well mine certainly sank! By about an inch!It looked fine when I took it out of the tin though, and the recipe says to invert it onto the serving plate as it’s easier to ice the flat base. And this is where it started to go wrong. As I mentioned before, the cake was for my sister’s birthday, so I wanted to get it right. She was having a BBQ at our mum’s house so I took the cake, cake stand and ingredients for the icing over there as I knew I’d need to construct it on location.
But somehow I managed to mess up the icing. The recipe says to finely chop the chocolate and put it in a heat-proof bowl with the cream, to melt over hot water (in the same way as before). When it’s half melted, remove from the pan and beat it well until it goes glossy. Well, I think the water was too hot (which is why I stressed this point earlier!) and it curdled or split, not sure which, they may even be the same thing. Either way, I ended up with this monstrous mess:I tried to save it by adding some icing sugar but nothing worked. So into the bin it went. The guests had started arriving by this point. I was very stressed!
Fortunately mum had some nice dark chocolate so I had another go. This time I melted the chocolate and waited for it to cool, and THEN added the cream. It went very thick and I was pretty scared I’d messed it up again, but I kept on beating and it was fine, phew!
The recipe says to pour it evenly over the cake and let it trickle down the sides. My topping was not that runny so I just scooped it onto the top and gently spread it with the back of a spoon. It was lovely and shiny.
The cake was a big hit with the birthday girl, and with Ava, and the other guests who tried it. It was quite rich but not overly sweet because it is dark chocolate. It would go very well with vanilla ice cream. I will make it again, but save it for special occasions as it’s quite time consuming. It’s definitely worth the effort though, and I’m sure it will be easier the second time around!