Chocolate Cloud Cake
On days when I want the warmth of the hearth rather than the hurly-burly of the city streets I stay in and read cookbooks, and this recipe comes from just the sort of book that gives most succor, Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. The cake itself (which was the dessert I made for last New Year’s Eve dinner) is as richly and rewardingly sustaining: a melting, dark, flourless, chocolate base, the sort that sinks damply on cooling; the fallen center then cloudily filled with softly whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder. As Richard Sax says, “Intensity, then relief, in each bite.”
9-inch springform cake pan
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Taste and TextureChocolatey, Creamy, Rich, Sweet
Type of DishCake, Chocolate Cake, Dessert
- 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons Cointreau (optional)
- grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
- ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line the bottom of the cake pan with baking parchment.
Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate.
Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with l/3 cup of the sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and the orange zest.
In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the remaining sugar and whisk until the whites hold their shape but are not too stiff. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35–40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools.
When you are ready to eat, place the still pan-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake from its pan. Don’t worry about cracks or rough edges: it’s the crater look we’re going for here. Whip the cream until it’s soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently toward the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer.
You can make this into an Easter Nest Cake by folding 7 ounces of melted chocolate into the cream topping and dotting with sugar-coated eggs instead of the cocoa. Leave the Cointreau out of both the cake and cream.
2002 Nigella Lawson