Ever since I saw it in Citrus and Candy, I’ve been wanting to make Damien Pignolet’s Eve’s Chocolate Cake. I believe in letting your ingredients be the stars of a dish – and with only four ingredients, his recipe does just that. So how did I get from that chocolate cake, which is more of a rustic-looking dessert, to this?
I had intended to use Pignolet’s recipe for individual cakes, but when changing the size of something, getting the baking time and temperature right can take a bit of trial and error. Instead of collapsing into a crater like they were supposed to and creating a well for the chocolate topping, my first cakes turned out lofty and slightly dry – and since I found the batter-as-frosting a bit underwhelming, I decided to experiment a bit more, creating cakelets on the second try that were wonderfully moist on the inside; a cross between a baked mousse cake and a molten chocolate cake.
I usually leave the cake as is, served with some fruit on the side, but if you want something that looks a little more festive, try adding a white chocolate wrap to add some colour contrast and drama. I had previously made an ornate dark chocolate wrap for my Candied Kumquat Ice Cream, and received many questions about how to make it. The instructions are pretty simple: measure and cut a piece of acetate to fit the cake, making it slightly longer than the circumference so the ends of the wrap will overlap. Melt your chocolate, apply onto the acetate in whatever design you like, and let cool slightly so it doesn’t slide and drip off the acetate. Before it hardens, wrap it around the cake, then let cool completely. If the wrap hardens fully before you can apply it, melt the side that will be applied to the cake very gently with the heat from a hair dryer. Remove the acetate and serve.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
This is a recipe which can be scaled easily to suit the number of people you are serving. You’ll need a molten cake pan with removable bottoms or straight-sided ramekins lined with parchment on the bottom, and a kitchen scale.
For each individual cake:
1 oz dark chocolate
1 large size egg, separated (note: the size is important; if it is too small the cake will be dry and dense; if it is too large the cake will not set properly)
10 grams butter
20 grams superfine sugar, divided into two portions of 10 grams each (note: if you only have granulated sugar, whip it in a spice grinder or food processor for a few seconds; that’s what I do)
Preheat the oven to 300F. Lightly butter a cake pan or ramekins and line the bottom with parchment (not necessary if you’re using a pan with removable bottoms).
In a bain-marie, melt the dark chocolate. When it is smooth and glossy, remove from heat and stir in butter.
Whisk the egg yolk and 10 grams of sugar together until it forms yellow ribbons. Stir egg yolk mixture into chocolate.
Using a hand mixer, whip egg whites until they form soft peaks; then, gradually add the remaining 10 grams of sugar. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form and the egg whites are glossy.
Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate, then gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites with a spatula until they are well combined.
Divide the batter into wells of cake pan or ramekins and bake for 13-15 minutes, until the cakes are set enough that no batter sticks to your finger if you touch the middle of the top slightly (it will have formed a skin, for lack of a better word). Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.
To remove from pan, run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently turn out onto a plate.