| chocolate and almond cake

February 2, 2010

My family Christmas was at my aunt’s house this year. She lives in rural Victoria, in a one street town with petite houses, gum trees and a waterfall within walking distance. It’s very close to Hanging Rock. Last year Sarah and I adventured to Hanging Rock and discovered that it is just as eerie as it is depicted in the 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock. The sound carries very strangely within the rocks, it echoes and bounces and it is sometimes impossible to hear someone calling from only metres away. We couldn’t hear a group of Italian students partying with a boom box at the top of the rock until we were right there, walking into their midst (not quite as romantic as teenage girls in white dresses, disappearing, but still very strange). Walking through the bush everything is slightly different; the world is almost the same but not quite right, just a little askew.

My aunt had a stroke just before Christmas, and very suddenly for her the world felt very strange and not quite right. Things that were easy and unconscious were now difficult and new – an unsettling feeling. But within all this we laughed. She decided that she has come out of the stroke a new person, and that hilariously, it is quite possible she has come out of it a better cook. She was of course a brilliant cook before the stroke – and unlike me is classically trained – but at Christmas everything turned out perfectly. We cooked this beautiful flourless chocolate cake to eat after afternoon bush walks and it was just so good. It’s moist, with such a delicate flavour and it’s not too sweet. Sarah and I have made this since and it’s excellent, maybe not quite as excellent as my aunt’s but close enough without us having to undergo a major brain injury.

Chocolate and Almond Cake

This is a doubled and converted recipe from my aunt’s copy of Elizabeth David’s, French Provincial Cooking. You could halve it and make one flattish cake (only cook for 45 minutes though) or make the doubled recipe but two cakes.

230g bitter dark chocolate
170g butter
170g caster sugar
170g ground almonds
6 eggs
2 tbsp rum or brandy
2 tbsp strong black coffee

Preheat the oven to140C.

Break the chocolate into small pieces. Put them with the rum and coffee in a bowl to melt over a saucepan of boiling water. Stir the mixture well. Add this mixture to a saucepan with the butter, sugar and ground almonds and stir over a low heat for a couple of minutes, until all the ingredients are blended smoothly. Off the heat stir in well-beaten egg yolks, then fold in stiffly whipped whites. Turn into a lightly buttered spring form tin (7 to 8 inches diameter). Cook in a very low oven for an hour (check at 45 minutes) or until a skewer comes out clean.

Owing to the total absence of flour this cake is fragile. Turn it out of the tin with the utmost care. It can be served as is, or with thick cream, or iced with a bitter chocolate ganache. Ours is sprinkled with a little cocoa.

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chocolate and almond cake: 19 comments

  1. joey Says:

    This sounds rich and dark and intense…just how I like my chocolate cake :)

  2. Brea Says:

    This looks lovely. I also have total respect for your piece-of-cake per person ratio. Perfect.

  3. chika Says:

    mmm this looks and sounds fabulous – a rich but light sort? yum! i hope your aunt is doing well now. and i went to hanging rock while at my friends’ in melbourne – for a food fair. didn’t know about the movie back then, but ours was a real picnic at hanging rock! :)

  4. romy Says:

    Rich but light, exactly! And my Aunt is doing excellently!

  5. lucy Says:

    I’ve just arrived here courtesy of three thousand, but after a bit of a wander it feels like coming home. your recipes make me want to eat and cook and set a lovely outdoor table and linger over food and conversation RIGHT NOW and your stories make me smile. thank you for adding another delightful corner to the interwebs. i will be coming back regularly!

  6. Temasek Says:

    Hi Sarah and Romy, my cooking buddy Paul got me onto your blog and it has now become part of my “I really should be working” blog reading morning rituals. This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for the inspiring life anecdotes, the delicious recipes and just the aesthetics!

  7. Trissa Says:

    Glad to hear your Aunt is better and that you’ve managed to get one beautiful chocolate cake out of it!

  8. charlotte Says:

    when i’ve tried making flourless cakes in the past, i always seem to get a cake with a sunken in middle! any tips for how to avoid this? i love love love your blog!

  9. romy Says:

    Charlotte, I think it’s all about being gentle, gentle with folding in the egg whites, and then being very gentle once the cake is cooked too. You could leave it cool in the oven a little while if you’re worried. Let us know how you go.

  10. Liesl Says:

    I made this in Brisbane tonight for my Dad’s birthday. It was so delicious and had a lovely moist texture and kept it’s height put of the oven. It required an extra ten minutes in the oven at my Mum’s house. Thanks ladies!

  11. jas Says:

    oh. my. word!

  12. Maddy Says:

    I made this last Friday night – a massive success. I had to cook it for a bit longer (I’ve got an electric oven, though), and I’d recommend making sure your butter/chocolate mixture is nice & cool before you put the eggs in. I also used whole almonds, roughly chopped, instead of ground almonds.

    Absolutely delicious! Will make it again!

  13. of making food. « the gnome thief Says:

    [...] I made a flourless chocolate cake from one of my favourite Melbourne blogs. You can check out the recipe here. [...]

  14. xA Says:

    I made this tonight after a stressful day, and I think it may just be my new favourite recipe.

  15. Willie Pickerell Says:

    Lovely NICE!

  16. Zac Says:

    You guys. This recipe rulz. It’s in the oven… will let you know how it goes.

  17. Zac Says:

    It DID RULE! Yumm-o. We added chilli chocolate for an extra kick but it was subtle. Maybe you should post a chilli chocolate cake recipe?

  18. amber Says:

    it looks delicious. how long can you keep this in the fridge for?

  19. amber Says:

    hey your instructions say to bake it for 45 mins, and then your comment above the instructions say if you half it also bake for 45 mins. do you mean if you half it you should bake for just 23 minutes? I baked the portion as per the recipe and cooked it for around 50 minutes. it was really good, but the bottom layer was a bit damp.

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