Apologies for the alliterative title. I couldn’t resist.

I have an excuse, this week, for making something chocolatey: we were going for Sunday dinner at a friend’s house, and three desserts were on the menu. Fruit salad and apple pie had already been bagsied, so what else was there for me to do but bring chocolate cake?

When it comes to chocolate cake, there’s really only one alternative: Sophie Dahl’s Flourless Chocolate Cake from her Voluptuous Delights book. I made this once, last summer, and it was the best, dampest, squidgiest chocolate cake ever – almost puddingy in its dense moist loveliness. Here’s the catch, though: it was probably one of the worst baking experiences of my life. The end result was glorious, but the method: O, the method. Break up the chocolate into squares, said Sophie, and put them in your food blender along with the caster sugar. Then switch on the blender, and pulse to a fine powder. Unfortunately I discovered very quickly indeed that a) chocolate, especially hard, chunky plain squares, doesn’t reduce to anything like a powder in my tiny food mixer, preferring instead to make an ear-splitting noise without ever getting any smaller; and b) combining chocolate and sugar in my food mixer makes the idiotic thing jam shut. I don’t know how many hours I persevered with it, taking ten minutes at a time to prise off the lid and getting increasingly headachey and irritated (I needed the cake for a party the next day, so it had to work), but it was horrible. Horrible. And the only reason I returned to it was because, well, that chocolate cake. You can’t argue with it.

I knew what I was getting myself into this time, though, and spent quite a while chopping up the chocolate into small pieces before putting them in the blender without the sugar. They still didn’t blend, but at least the lid didn’t jam. (NOTE: have you ever tried chopping up 300g of chocolate into rice-grain sized pieces? NO JOKE. I’ve still got the knife pressure mark in my palm.) After this you’re supposed to add egg yolks, butter, vanilla essence and boiling water to make a chocolate syrupy substance. Unfortunately, as I had chocolate rice instead of chocolate powder, the boiling water didn’t melt the chocolate well enough. So, I confess, I microwaved it. And I thought: wouldn’t this work as well just melting the chocolate to begin with? And you know what, I bet it would.

A chocolatey mess, post-blender, pre-microwave. Please take note of my Special Award for Services to Washing-up just beside it.

Anyway, no flour = loads of eggs, usually, and sure enough, I needed a whole boxful of whisked egg whites. You fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and pour it all into a springform tin.

Eggy chocolate. Now there's a bowl you want to stick your head in.

In the oven it rises like a soufflé, as with previous flourless cakes I’ve tried, and cracks along the top like an earthquake fault line (Sophie says this is OK though, so worry not). When you take it out of the oven it sinks, ridiculously (this is also OK), and after a couple of hours in the fridge to settle it a bit it’s good to go.

On top goes crème fraiche and raspberries. The crème fraiche is a masterstroke: it counterbalances the sweet stickiness of the cake quite wonderfully.

Deliciousness: Fabulous, chocolate-all-over-your-face heaven. I love it. It went down well at dinner, too.

Complexity: I imagine that if you’re fortunate enough to own an actual full-sized blender, this might be quite easy. I’ll try it with the microwave next time and see if it improves things. Blender aside, all quite straightforward.

Washing-up pile: Two large and sticky bowls, a very sticky springform tin, a chocolate-engrimed food mixer plus any number of utensils. Quite a commitment, this one.

Casualties: The afore-mentioned knife mark in palm. I hope it goes down soon…

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