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Chocolate Cloud Cake

Carpe diem! Seize the day! Today 29 February 2008 is Leap Day which by tradition is the one day that women can propose marriage, thus keeping men safe for the next 1460 days! So ladies go ahead and seize the day. Supposedly a 1288 law by Margaret, Queen of Scots (then five years old and in Norway) required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man, compensation ranged from a kiss, to a £1, to a silk gown to soften the blow. Thus added to 14 February, St Valentine’s Day, we have another romantic day this February, which calls for another romantic recipe. Chocolate Cloud Cake is just the ticket to round off any romantic meal.

Chocolate Cloud Cake


Cake:  250g dark chocolate minimum 70% cocoa solids; 125g unsalted butter, softened; 6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated; 175g caster sugar: 75g in the cake, 100g in whites; 2 tbspns Cointreau (optional); grated zest of an orange (optional); 23cm springform cake tin

Cream topping:  500ml double cream; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 tbspn Cointreau (optional); half tsp unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling

Method:  Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line the bottom of a 23cm Springform cake tin with baking parchment. 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 75g caster sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and orange zest. In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the 100g 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 about 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in it's tin 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 soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer.

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