I've made this cake more times than I can count. It's my go-to cake when I need something delicious, reliable, and pleasing to all. The cake is rich, fudgy and dense; you really can't eat more than a small serving. But as a result, it really feels like a treat. It's become more standard since finding out that a friend has Celiac disease, which means that she can't eat gluten (wheat, pasta, rye, barley). Even small amounts are a problem, so she had to purchase a separate toaster at home for her gluten-free toasting needs. It's been a huge lifestyle change for her and her family. So when we have them over for dinner, I like making a few different things with as many gluten-free options as possible. It's not that hard as long as you think about it beforehand, but it does take some thought and research. For example, soy sauce is not necessarily gluten-free. I didn't see that one coming.
But I digress. This cake is a great flourless chocolate cake. My favorite part is the freshness imparted by the fruity contribution. Nigella's original recipe included 2 tablespoons of Cointreau (an orange liquor) and some orange zest. But I wanted to try something different, so I consulted The Flavor Bible, which has become a great source of inspiration for trying out new flavors. I found that passion fruit goes well with dark chocolate, and it reminded me that my favorite chocolate ever is a passion fruit dark chocolate from Jin Patisserie (absolutely wonderful!!) in Venice, CA. So I substituted 3 tablespoons of passion fruit puree for the Cointreau. I cut the fruit, put the pulp in a sieve, and scraped out, on average, 1 tablespoon from every 2 passion fruits. I thought it was a nice start, but it could have used more; the fruit was too subtle. I'll add at least another tablespoon next time. That said, it was still delicious, and I thought the Cointreau in the cream served to bring out the passion fruit in the cake.
Chocolate Cloud Cake
from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson
250g (9 ounces) dark chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
7 ounces sugar
3 tablespoons passion fruit puree (from about 6 passion fruits)
16 ounces double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cointreau (or other orange liquor)
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line the bottom of a 9" springform pan with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate.
Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 2 ounces sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture and the passion fruit.
In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the 5 ounces of sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape but not too stiff. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools.
When you are ready to eat, place the still tin-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake from its tin. Don't worry about cracks or rough edges; it's the crater look we're going for here. Whip the cream until it's soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater on the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder.