Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Don’t you agree?
I first came across a picture of a Chocolate cloud cake years ago and fell instantly in love with its heavenly looks. Its whimsical name also charmed me. I’d never heard of a Chocolate cloud cake before and I immediately dreamed of a divinely delicious chocolate cake that was as light as air itself.
The cake looked so intimidating that it took me almost six years to muster up the courage to make one, on account of my assumption that something so heavenly would invariably be hellishly difficult to make.
Well, I was wrong. After six years in the waiting, I discovered that this flourless chocolate cake is extremely easy to make. I also discovered that the cake itself is not as light as air. Rather, the ‘cloud’ in this Chocolate cloud cake is a reference to the light, whipped cream that crowns the cake. The cake itself is gorgeously moist, intensely rich with a subtle hint of orange and yet not too dense (thanks to the whipped egg whites).
I used a recipe which was originally published by Richard Sax in his cookbook, Classic Home Desserts and features in Nigella’s 2002 cookbook, Nigella Bites. I happened to have a bottle of Grand Marnier in my cupboard so I used 1 1/2 tablespoons of that instead of the 3 tablespoons of Cointreau that Nigella’s recipe calls for. I’m not a huge fan of orange and chocolate, but I have to say the result was a lovely subtle orange flavour.
As I was making this for a family dinner, I couldn’t help myself and topped it with chocolate flakes, but trust me, the cake will still have its wow factor if you serve it without.
- 250g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa), broken into small squares
- 150g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (plus extra to grease the cake tin)
- 6 large eggs (2 whole, 4 separated)
- 175g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
- zest of one small orange
- 500 ml double cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- dark cocoa powder (for sprinkling)
- 20g dark chocolate (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, and grease and line a 20 cm spring-form cake tin.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).
- Remove from the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth, then set aside.
- Whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer, gradually adding 100g of caster sugar. Continue to whisk until soft peaks form, then set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks together with the remaining 75g of caster sugar.
- Add the melted chocolate, Grand Marnier and orange zest and combine well.
- Stir in a generous spoonful of the egg whites and once combined, gently fold in the remainder of the egg whites.
- Transfer the mixture to the pre-lined tin and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the cake is cooked.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in its tin*.
- Once cool, remove from the spring-form tin and transfer to a serving plate.
- When ready to serve, pour the cream and vanilla into a mixing bowl and whip until it holds its form (take care not to over-whip your cream).
- If you wish to decorate the cake with chocolate flakes, melt the extra chocolate and spread a thin layer onto some cling film then place in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Once solid, roughly break into large pieces.
- Fill the crater with the whipped cream** and sprinkle with cocoa.
- Top with chocolate flakes if desired.
- *Don’t be concerned when the cake sinks and forms a crater – this is supposed to happen.
- ** I topped the cake with cream by using a piping bag to create the cloud-like forms, however you could generously spoon the cream into the cake’s crater and spread to the edges.