Fuss-free, gluten-free chocolate cake
Ample opportunity to decorate this tasty cake with ganache, fruit or flowers
A fallen chocolate cake: the petal colours stand out against the dark background.
A classic flourless chocolate cake is sometimes called a fallen chocolate cake because it will always sink in the centre after baking. Rather than a problem, it is an opportunity for a little creativity when decorating your cake.
Here, I’ve opted for simplicity. The cake is good enough not to need anything more than a little chocolate ganache to cover the centre. In early summer, you could choose to fill the dip with whipped cream topped with succulent summer berries. Or you could serve it with poached pears in the colder months. If the sunken centre still looks a little too troubling, a light dusting of icing sugar will lift its appearance. Because it is such a fuss-free yet irresistible cake, it is perfect for a dinner party pudding.
The ground almonds add a dense moistness to this cake. What it lacks in structure is more than compensated for by its deliciously rich flavour. For the perfect result, it is important to grease the base and sides of the tin, or the cake may stick. The centre should be slightly gooey when the cake is baked, so take it out of the oven when the top is slightly crisp on the surface but only just firm to the touch.
At this time of year, I love to decorate this cake with seasonal edible flowers which you can often pick up in specialist food shops. Mags Riordan of Bumblebee Flower Farm in Co Cork lovingly cultivates a huge range of unusual edible flowers. They are hand-picked to order, and a quick call ensures they will be delivered in the post to your home address (bumblebeeflowerfarm.ie).
The colours of the petals pop against the plain dark chocolate background. In August, you could try the true blues of cornflowers and borage flowers, the pinks of rose petals, busy lizzies and carnations, or the shocking oranges of marigolds and peppery nasturtiums. If you want to use marigold petals, ensure you use pot marigolds – calendula officinalis – not other flowers which share the same common name but are in fact different plants, such French, African or Mexican marigolds.
Always buy unsprayed flowers or, better still, reduce food miles to food inches and cut them from your own garden. You could turn this cake into gluten-free brownies by using a square tin and cutting it into squares.
GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE
200g dark chocolate (minimum 55 per cent cocoa solids)
200g butter, cubed (plus extra for greasing)
150g caster sugar
5 medium eggs
1-2 tbsp strong espresso coffee
150g ground almonds
For chocolate icing:
100g dark chocolate, chopped
Edible flowers (optional) to garnish
1. Preheat a fan oven to 170 degrees Celsius, or equivalent. Grease and line the base of a 20cm springform or loose-bottomed cake tin with parchment paper (grease the sides of the tin also with butter).
2. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and let them melt together; stir until smooth. Remove from the heat.
3. Use a handheld whisk to stir in the sugar and salt until fully combined.
4. Next whisk the eggs and coffee into the chocolate mixture.
5. Lastly, fold in the ground almonds.
6. Transfer the mixture into the cake tin, and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the surface has a light crust, while the centre has a barely visible wobble.
7. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin. Remove the parchment paper from the base of the cake before placing it on a serving dish.
8. To make the chocolate icing, use a small heavy-based saucepan to heat the cream until it comes to the boil. Place the chocolate into a small bowl and pour the scalded cream over it, allow to sit for one minute before stirring to a smooth chocolate sauce. Once it has cooled down but is still spreadable, use a spatula to spread it over the cooled cake. Decorate with edible flowers and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
For a different flavour, coffee can be replaced with the zest of one orange. For decoration, any fruit can be used instead of edible flowers.