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  • Writer's pictureTina Brand

Chocolate Cake Comfort

Here's a recipe from many years ago. Lots of chocolate cakes have been baked in my oven in that time, but this recipe endures, and when Michael had a birthday this weekend, this was the one he requested. It is a 'grown- up' choc cake, heavy and moist but not too sweet. If you don't love frosting or icing, this is also a good option as all it has is a dusting of cocoa or icing sugar over the top.

First posted on March 18, 2014

It is without doubt a very strange time.  That Flight MH 370 could make a couple of unusual manoeuvres, turn the plane around from its  course, and then just DISAPPEAR, has been weighing heavily upon our family.

Yes, we’ve had quite a few discussions about it all over long telephone calls and numerous texts. I know how upset you and Little C are Izzy, about the Malaysian plane. We’ve been on countless MH flights ever since you were born. I’ve thought hard about this unease; it has felt quite familiar. And then it struck me: it is the limbo our family was in, a leaden unease which later turned to helpless horror when news unfolded about 9/11. You girls were both at school on a clear sunny day in an idyllic American city not far from New York. I was at the gym with two school mums. We were on treadmills and watched dumbstruck, as CNN showed images of the first plane crashing into the Twin Towers. Then sickeningly, we watched live as the second plane crashed. I jumped off the treadmill, raced to the car and called dad at the Museum. We wondered in panic about what was happening. I stopped at a drive in-bank on Libby Avenue on the way home and shared this news with the teller; many people had not heard the news yet, it seemed. She shut her window right after I left, running to find her manager. I could see we were heading in American terms to ‘lock down’. That early fall in Virginia was a surreal period. We watched the news round the clock. Your school was sometimes closed, based on the safety rating of the day. Low flying drones circled our city; it felt war-like and eery. The days were clear and bright, with a slight evening chill to remind us winter was on its way.  It wasn’t easy explaining the situation to you dear little girls aged just 6 and 9. I felt like we were planets away from our simple life in New Farm where you went to the tiny school on the hill, Little C just a baby in a pram,  and we lived amongst good friends. I just hope there is some end to the search for this plane. It is awful to think of the poor families waiting, waiting.

Well darlings…………. I just cooked ‘the’ chocolate cake. What else is there to do while in such doldrums? It is a very FINE cake, this one. Almost macaroon- like with the crushed almonds, almond meal and whipped egg whites. After being throughly satisfied with a lovely chocolate buttermilk cake I found and then Anna Gare’s good recipe, I thought the search was over, and we were good for amazing choc cake recipes. But no! Enter The Cake Mistress. I came across this blog quite by chance, and her entry for this recipe is quite hilarious as she likens her feeling for this cake to her passion for Johnny Depp. (These days the jury's out on said actor, but let's not detract from CHOCOLATE CAKE!) It just seemed like at this very moment with so many momentous things happening in the world, I had to cook a momentous cake. So here with my love and hugs, is the Cake Mistress’s recipe for her Flourless Chocolate Cake. Please try not to worry too much about everything going on; focus n your wonderful lives. The troubles of the world are sometimes unfathomable. Count your blessings, hug your friends, and keep those telephone calls home coming.  Dad and I miss you! xoxo

Flourless Chocolate Cake Ingredients •    200g dark chocolate, chopped ( I use two blocks of Lindt 70%) •    125g unsalted butter, chopped •    225g brown sugar (I've reduced it over the years to 200g) •    100g almond meal (use hazelnut meal if you prefer) •    100g almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted (optional) •    5 large eggs, separated •    1 pinch of cream of tartar •    1 tablespoon of icing sugar/cocoa powder or a mix

Directions 1.    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper. 2.    Make a “double-boiler” to melt the chocolate and butter: Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Place the chopped chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over the hot saucepan to allow the ingredients to melt. Stir occasionally. 3.    Once all is melted, stir in the brown sugar, almond meal and almonds until the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then add the egg yolks gradually, stirring each time. 4.    Meanwhile, place the five egg whites into a clean dry bowl with a pinch of cream of tartar. The egg whites will form the structure of the cake, so it’s important they’re well beaten. Using a hand whisk, electric beater or stand mixer, beat the eggs slowly at first until they are foamy and then gradually increase the speed every few minutes. (If you go straight to high speed, you increase the chance of your cake collapsing). Continue beating until firm peaks form. Don’t worry if you overbeat the eggs because you’ll beat some of the air out next. 5.    Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. The chocolate mix is quite heavy, so don’t worry if you need to stir quite a bit at this stage. Stop when the eggs are just incorporated with the chocolate. 6.    Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until a firm crust forms on the top. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin before attempting to remove. Once cool, sift cocoa powder over the top.


At the melting the chocolate and butter stage, I add a teaspoon of instant coffee powder and stir well.

When folding in the almond meal, I also add a teaspoonful of vanilla bean essence.

I lay a decorative trivet or a woven placemat over the cooled cake before dusting with sugar to achieve a pretty pattern on the cake top.


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