Easter is only a few days away and I had a hankering for something chocolaty. Usually when you say ‘chocolate’ and ‘Easter’ to someone in the same sentence they will think of milky supermarket Easter eggs in their shiny coloured foil. While these are undoubtedly pretty, they don’t really hit the chocolate treat mark for me. Even as a child when I was given Easter eggs my mum would discovered them still sitting on my bedroom floor at Christmas. So much so that my relatives stopped bothering to buy them for me or else I simply handed them out to my siblings. If I want a chocolate treat these days it often involves a dark, cocoa rich chocolate with my preference being around 70-85%. (Although I'd never say no to anything Hotel Chocolat have to offer, hint hint family!).
I went on the hunt – an Easter hunt if you will, for a rich chocolate dessert and decided on a flourless chocolate cake. I’ve had many a flourless chocolate cake over the years, some better than others. Quite a few incorporate ground almonds in place of the flour, which while keeping the cake moist, can sometimes give a slightly grainy texture which is not always desired. This recipe ticks all the right boxes, it’s nut free, grain free and gluten free. I tweaked the quantities a bit and added a little splash of cognac for a boozy hit, as like coffee, I find a drop of alcohol seems to enhance the richness of chocolate. The result is one amazing dessert.
‘Cake’ is really the wrong word for this dessert. Torte is probably more like it, or dense layer of fudgy chocolaty truffley deliciousness, but that’s a little OTT. However, this is one super rich, intense chocolate dessert!
The texture is similar to the inside of a giant truffle. It’s dense, silky smooth and very intense. The cognac really enhances the richness of the chocolate, giving it a luxurious flavour which isn’t obviously alcoholic.
There is a serious quantity of chocolate involved, which is melted with a simple sugar syrup rather than cream for a cleaner more concentrated chocolate flavour. The ingredients are incorporated with the minimum of stirring as unlike other flourless chocolate cakes I’ve seen, the idea here is not to incorporate any air, so no whisking of egg whites are involved. Instead the cake is gently stirred together and baked in a water bath which results in a softly set, dense chocolate ganache.
A light dusting of cocoa, a blob of lightly whipped cream and a few speckled miniature mini eggs are all that’s required to finish this Easter inspired dessert. I’m not normally a fan of plain whipped cream, but here it adds a nice lightness and contrast against the richness of the chocolate.
You only need small slices for a serious chocolate hit. The edges are slightly fudgy while the centre stays gloriously smooth and truffle-like. A fork glides through it like a hot knife through butter and each bite melts into an indulgently chocolaty pool in the mouth. It may be a little too intense for children, but who says adults can’t enjoy a chocolate treat at Easter too?! This is going to be my go-to chocolate dessert from now on.
Intense Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake / Torte
320g dark chocolate (mix of 60-80% cocoa)
200g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
45ml cognac or alcohol of choice
2 tsp cocoa powder
150ml double cream whipped cream
Easter miniature mini eggs
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line an 8inch/20cm deep round springform tin with baking paper and wrap the base and sides in a sheet of foil.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a large bowl. Cube the butter, add to the chocolate and set aside.
Add the sugar, water and salt to a saucepan and heat on the hob until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has turned clear, stirring occasionally. Once clear, quickly bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.
Pour the hot sugar water over the chocolate-butter mixture and stir gently until everything is melted, smooth and glossy.
Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Stir the eggs together in a bowl so they are broken and combined, but do not whisk. You don’t want to incorporate any air. Stir the cognac or alcohol of choice into the eggs.
Pour the egg mix gradually into the melted chocolate mix while stirring together with a spatula. Again do not whisk, you want a smooth thick batter.
Pour the glossy fudgy chocolate mix into the prepared tin and gently shake the tin to smooth the top.
Place the tin into a deep baking tray, larger than the cake tin. Boil the kettle and pour the boiling water into the baking tray so it comes halfway up the sides of the in. It’s easier to do this when the tray is placed on the oven shelf. Try not to splash any water onto the cake itself.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until just set. The outside should look slightly puffed and will have started to have come away from the sides of the tin. (The middle may still be slightly sunken, but this is fine. It will level out on cooling.)
Remove the cake from the water bath, take off the outer layer of foil and leave to cool for 1 hour in the tin. Transfer the cake, still in the tin, to the fridge and leave to chill for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
When ready to serve, heat a round bladed knife under hot water, wipe dry and run this around the inside edge of the tin before carefully releasing the springform tin. Lay a sheet of clingfilm loosely over the top of the cake (this stops it sticking to the board) and place a chopping board on top, and flip everything upside down. Remove the base of the tin and the greaseproof paper. Place a serving plate upside down on the cake and flip it over so it’s now right side up again. Carefully peel off the clingfilm.
Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder.
Lightly whip the cream until soft peak stage. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe swirls of cream around the edge of the cake and top with Easter miniature mini eggs or flakes of chocolate.
Cut neat slices using a sharp knife heated in hot water and quickly dried. Store any leftovers in the fridge.Makes 1 x 8inch truffle cake