The ultimate Chocolate Cake

Your first chocolate cake will never be your best but it will be a beginning. The beginning of a (considerable) quest to find the best recipe, considerable because there are many sorts of ‘best’. But if by best you mean pure, then the best recipe might be that by River Cafe for its chocolate Nemesis cake. It’s compact, pure and almost obscenely good; a result of using chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa (keep the chocolate powder in the pantry except for dusting). Its also important not to underestimate the power of large amounts of butter, and there’s no way you’ll get the same result by swapping out the milk for water. Sorry, but those who choose to eat chocolate cake have long stopped thinking in terms of calories. What makes the below recipe a real shot of joy is the addition of fluffy meringue. Crunch through the first cloud layer to get to the sticky middle and a bottom oozing chocolate. It’s the cake that keeps giving.

Photo by Rene Mesman, styling by Hanna van de Bos, cooked by Ans de Vree

Recipe for chocolate cake with meringue topping
Serves 8, 90 minutes + 2 hours cooling

250g dark chocolate, chopped
180g unsalted butter, chopped
2 eggs
4 more eggs, yolks and whites separated
100g brown sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
50g plain flour, sifted
½tsp baking powder, sifted
50g almond meal
220g icing sugar
1tsp white wine vinegar
3tsp cornstarch, sifted
25g unsweetened cocoa powder and a little extra for dusting

  • Preheat the oven to 160 °C. Lightly grease a 24cm spring form tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
  • Place the chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  • Place the 2 eggs and 4 extra yolks, brown sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk with a mixer for 4 minutes or until thick. Add the chocolate mixture, flour, baking powder and almond meal and fold in. Pour the mixture into the lined spring form and bake for 35-40 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Increase oven temperature to 180 °C. Place the 4 extra egg whites in a clean bowl and mix on high speed until you form soft peaks. Gradually add the icing sugar, whisking until it dissolves.
  • Add the vinegar and whisk for another 2-3 minutes or until you have a thick and glossy meringue.
  • Fold through the cornflour and cocoa powder. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the cake and spread evenly. Return to the oven for 20-25minutes or until the meringue is crisp. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before running a small knife around the edge of the spring form which you can then lift off. Leave cake to cool for 2 hours before serving. Dust with extra cocoa powder and serve.



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