I think of this as a special occasion cake for grown-ups, including those who are intolerant of gluten. Yes, it’s full of other things that can kill you if you over-indulge habitually. Fortunately, one small piece provides plenty of pleasure, so the cake can be shared with a sizeable group of friends or colleagues, to celebrate a birthday, an imminent wedding or just catching up over a leisurely lunch.
As the almonds and hazelnuts make up more than 25% of the cake by weight, they must be in good condition. We use our second refrigerator for storing nuts, especially raw ones, to slow down the process of the nut oils going rancid.
125g dark cooking chocolate
2 tsp instant coffee powder
2 tbsp brandy
100g caster sugar
75g blanched almonds and 75g roasted hazelnuts, ground fine but not to a powder
3 eggs, separated
- Grease an 18cm round springform cake tin and line base generously with baking paper.
- Place chocolate, brandy and coffee in a bowl over simmering water until melted and smooth, stirring gently to combine ingredients.
- Add butter and sugar. Mix well until butter has melted, then remove from the heat. Add ground nuts and mix very well. Allow mix to cool partly. Preheat oven to no more than 160C (see step 7, below).
- Beat the egg yolks gently and stir into the chocolate mix.
- Beat egg whites until firm (but not stiff). Lighten chocolate mix with a spoonful of egg white, then fold in rest of whites and spoon mix into prepared tin.
- Bake for about 40 minutes. The cake might still test just a little gooey in the centre when it is ready to take out of the oven.
- A crust might have formed on the surface of the cake; this might indicate that you should set the oven temperature 5 or 10 degrees lower next time.
- After a few minutes, carefully remove the ring section of the cake tin and rest the cake and its base on a cake rack. When the cake is almost completely cool, use a long, thin spatula or similar, to ease the cake off the baking paper and tin base and carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate.
- Serve with thick cream and, perhaps, some deeply-flavoured berries or cherries, if available.