When Waitrose challenged me to recreate one of their chocolate cake recipes from their newly-launched Ultimate chocolate recipes collection it was pretty much a no-brainer. I don’t really need many excuses to bake but I realised that it has been a while since I made chocolate cake. Chocolate is quite expensive these days and if you are going to use 3 or 4 bars in a recipe you want to be pretty sure it will be worth the expense and effort.
The recipe that caught my eye on the Waitrose site was the Flourless chocolate praline cake. I must admit the name is quite misleading as the cake doesn’t contain praline but roasted ground hazelnuts. Do they count as praline? In any case, I was roasting the hazelnuts in the oven while making the Peruvian soup and the whole time I was thinking something smelled funny in the house… as it turns out that was the smell of the hazelnuts being burned to a crisp. Yes, I completely forgot about them. A quick search revealed I had no more hazelnuts so I substituted with pecans. Well, Waitrose wanted a twist and here’s one that was forced on me.
The cake was very easy to make and turned out rather spectacular – not in looks maybe, but certainly in texture and taste: rich yet light with a fudgy, almost brownie, texture. I decorated with Waitrose’s Dreamy Clouds of Meringue Melting Moments and served it with homemade chocolate fudge sauce. The cake was rapturously received by the local builders as well as my children who declared it ‘the best you have ever made’.
Ultimate gluten-free chocolate cake
1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and roast the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn. Cool slightly then blitz in a food processor together with 1 tbsp of the sugar until finely ground.
- Lower the oven to 160C (325F) and line the bottom of a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin with baking paper, then spray the tin with cake release.
- Chop the chocolate really small and put in a bowl suspected over a saucepan of barely simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water). Let the chocolate melt slowly, giving it an occasional stir. Once melted set aside to cool slightly.
- Whisk 100g (3.5oz) of the sugar with the butter until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs yolks, one at a time, and beat them in until they are incorporated.
- Gradually add the melted chocolate then fold in the nuts and vanilla extract.
- Whisk the eggs whites with the remaining sugar and salt until you have stiff peaks.
- Add 1/3 of the meringue into the chocolate mixture to loosen then fold in the rest gently trying not to knock the air out.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes. The cake will rise in the tin but and a skewer inserted in the centre will come out with a few crumbs attached.
- Cool in the tin then remove and transfer to a cake stand (or plate). The cake will settle slightly as it cools.
- Decorate with the meringue melting moments and drizzle with chocolate fudge sauce.
Find more allergy-free recipe inspiration here.