The best chocolate cake recipe I know

For sixteen

While I have been writing this book I have had this recipe in my head and a little voice has been saying, ‘Noooooo, keep this one secret ... don’t tell anyone how to make it’. In fact, I even know of a chef who had his staff sign non-disclosure agreements before handing them this recipe (sorry, but the cat is now out of the bag).

This cake has all of the bases covered—it is chocolate, it is rich, it is fabulous! But there is a catch. It cannot be eaten on the same day it is made; you must show a little restraint when making it. The other small catch is that you must use really good chocolate. I am not being a food snob or anything (I’ll be the first one to crave a dodgy chocolate bar after a great meal), but the simple reality is that cooking chocolate or white chocolate will not work—trust me on this as I have tried (in vain) to short-cut this recipe but it is just not the same.

The cooking times and temperatures are quite precise and worth following the first time, but you will probably find that the second time you make this recipe it will be better, as you will be able to make little changes to the times and temperature to suit your own oven. If you need any advice about how to adjust the recipe to your oven, please contact me and I’m happy to help.

You need

  • butter, for greasing
  • plain (all-purpose) flour, for dusting
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Callebaut ‘811’ chocolate callets (buttons) or a good-quality dark chocolate with around 53% cocoa solids, chopped
  • 250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter, chopped
  • 10 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 50 g (13/4 oz/1/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 35 g (11/4 oz/1/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour

Sharing Plates Cookbook

Recipe and image from Sharing Plates by Jared Ingersoll, published by Murdoch Books, photography by Alan Benson

Method

Preheat your oven to 205°C (400°F/Gas 6). Now prepare a 22 cm (81/2 in) spring-form cake tin by rubbing with a little butter and dusting with flour. Have ready a lightly greased (but not floured) flat ovenproof dinner plate that will be large enough to sit over the edges of your tin.

Put the chocolate and butter in a clean heatproof bowl, then place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, without letting the base of the bowl touch the water. Gently melt the chocolate. While this is happening, start to carefully separate your eggs, placing the yolks in one small bowl and the whites into a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisking attachment (if you prefer, you can whisk the whites by hand using a balloon whisk and brute force, but an electric mixer will make the job much easier).

When the chocolate and butter have melted, add a pinch of salt, stir well and remove from the heat to allow it to cool slightly. While this is happening, start to whisk your egg whites. When your egg whites have formed soft peaks, sprinkle in the sugar and continue to whisk for about 1 more minute until the sugar has dissolved and the whites take on a nice shine. Now add the flour to the egg yolks and mix thoroughly.

You now need a clean large bowl in which to mix everything. Start by pouring in your melted chocolate mixture, then, using a whisk, beat in your egg yolk and flour mixture really well. Now, using your hands, fold your egg white mixture into the chocolate, one-third at a time, being careful to combine everything, but do not overwork. Working quickly, pour the chocolate batter into your prepared tin, then place into the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes gently place the prepared plate, greased side down, on top of the cake tin (by now the cake will have started to rise) and put the tin back into the oven for 12 minutes. Once the cooking time has finished, resist the urge to lift the plate (but if you do and the cake looks unset and runny, don’t panic, this is what it is supposed to look like) and place the cake (still in its tin, covered by the plate) on a wire rack out of direct sunlight, in a cool spot for at least 24 hours.

For serving

The next day carefully lift off the dinner plate. You will find that the cake will have sunk in the middle and will look a little ugly, but do not judge a book by its cover because you are about to have a wonderful chocolate experience. Carefully unclip and remove the side of the spring-form tin. Use a knife that has been heated in hot water and then dried to cut slices of your cake and simply serve with fresh tart berries and cream. Your cake should have the texture of a smooth and exotic pâté.

Do not place the cake in the fridge as it will sit at room temperature for about 2 days. Enjoy.