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Posts Tagged ‘easy dinner party dessert’

For the longest time, Valrhona chocolate was out of our reach, price-wise.

It’s still nearly double the Callebaut equivalent, but that didn’t stop Pete from buying me an early Christmas present when we spotted this bulk pack at Chefs’ Warehouse.

The bag contains three kilos of Valrhona Manjari, a dark (64%) origin chocolate from Madagascar.  It has a most unusual colour – the fèves have a slight reddish tinge to them. They’re lighter in colour than most dark chocolate, which made me double check the packaging to see if there was any added milk (there wasn’t).

The flavour is quite distinct, with high acidity and a long aftertaste. It’s not my preferred eating chocolate, but I was pretty sure it would have some exciting culinary uses…

Earlier this year, my dear friend Joanna put me onto this wonderful chocolate cake recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

It’s become a regularly baked treat at our house, partly because of its simplicity, but mostly because it showcases the chocolate, without the overlay of competing flavours.  Needless to say, it’s worth making this cake with the very best chocolate you can get your hands on.

Made with Valrhona Manjari, the cake has a hint of orange that is most appealing. Here’s the amended recipe (our original post is here):

Valrhona Manjari Chocolate Cake

  • 250g (8.8oz) Valrhona Manjari fèves , 64% cacao
  • 250g (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 medium free-range eggs, separated
  • 200g/7oz caster sugar
  • 50g (1.75oz) plain (AP) flour
  • 50g (1.75oz) ground almonds

1. Grease a 23cm/9″ springform cake tin and line the base with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 170C/340F or 160C/320F with fan.

2. In a large pyrex bowl, melt together the chocolate and butter in the microwave using short bursts, being careful not to scorch the chocolate.  Stir until smooth and combined.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar to form a paste, then stir in the melted chocolate and butter.  Carefully fold in the flour and almonds.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff.  Stir a large spoonful into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then carefully fold the remaining egg white in, trying to keep as much of the air in the mixture as possible.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes, until  just set.  The cake will still be a little wibbly in the middle – resist the urge to bake it until solid.  Allow to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes on a wire rack before opening the springform.

The finished cake is quite flat, velvety and slightly fudgy.  Don’t take that to mean that it’s stodgy in any way – somehow it manages to be both light and fudgy at the same time.  It cuts well at room temperature, and the flavour seems to improve with a day’s rest.

Finding a really good flourless (or nearly flourless) chocolate cake recipe is a little like Goldilocks’ search for the ideal bowl of porridge.  The ingredients are always similar, but the proportions vary slightly from recipe to recipe.  Sometimes the cakes will be overly eggy (which Pete is particularly sensitive to); other times the finished texture will be dense and heavy.

For us, this version is the perfect rendition of the style. It’s a great do-ahead dinner party dessert, particularly when served with a dollop of microwave custard. It’s the cake I’m baking for all our December entertaining, and the one I’ll be putting on the table for Christmas lunch.

As Hugh FW wrote in his introduction to the recipe:

“Everyone should have a little black cake in their
culinary wardrobe and this is mine.”

It’s now mine too, and it’s so easy that it might soon be yours as well!

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