It’s hard to deliver on the promise of being the best in the world, but this deeply chocolaty cake does. It’s made in one bowl and is as elegant without the frills as it is with the optional ganache and cream of mascarpone. And a word about this ganache: it’s made in a food processor, not on a stovetop, for an airy, lush, and ingeniously clean result.
The recipe for this cake, adapted from the cookbook Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, first appeared in an article written about Goh when she ran her cafe, Mortar & Pestle, in Melbourne, Australia. Rather intimidating to her, the title of the article was “The World’s Best Chocolate Cake“.
It could actually be called a lot of things: “the world’s simplest cake”, perhaps, requiring nothing more than a big bowl to do it all. Or “the most versatile cake”, given that it can be served without icing and just a light dusting. of cocoa powder, or dressed as here, with a thin layer of chocolate ganache and served with a cinnamon espresso mascarpone cream.
In London’s Ottolenghi stores, it’s smaller and goes by the name Take-Home Chocolate Cake, meant to be shared by four people after a meal. This larger version is nonetheless delicious and keeps well for four to five days.
The best chocolate cake in the world
For 12 people
Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling
For the cake:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 2cm cubes, plus extra for greasing the pan
200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), cut into 2cm pieces
1½ tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 350ml boiling water
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
240 g self-rising flour (see tip below)
30g Hollandaise cocoa powder, plus 1½ tsp, for dusting
1/4 tsp salt
For the chocolate ganache (optional):
200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), broken or coarsely cut into 2cm pieces
180 ml fresh cream
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the cinnamon mascarpone espresso cream (optional):
375 ml fresh cream
Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla pod
2½ teaspoons finely ground espresso
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2½ tablespoons icing sugar
1. Heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease a 23cm round springform pan with butter and line with parchment paper, then set aside.
2. Prepare the cake: Place the butter, chocolate and hot coffee in a large heatproof bowl and mix well until everything is melted, combined and smooth. Stir in the sugar by hand until dissolved. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk again until well combined and smooth. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl, then stir into the melted chocolate mixture. The batter here is runny, but don’t think you’ve missed anything; It should be like this.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is set and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few dry crumbs attached. The top will scab and crack a bit, but don’t worry, that’s normal. Leave the cake to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding it, then set aside until completely cooled.
4. Prepare the chocolate ganache, if desired: place the chocolate pieces in a food processor, blend until fine and set aside. Combine cream and golden syrup in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. As soon as bubbles begin to appear (just before boiling), remove from heat. Turn the food processor back on, with the chocolate still inside, and pour in the hot cream in an even stream. Mix for 10 seconds, then add the butter. Keep mixing until the mixture is shiny and smooth. (You can also make the ganache by hand, just make sure the chocolate is chopped finely enough before adding the cream mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until almost melted, then add butter. Stir again until the ganache is smooth.)
5. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the ganache into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, the plastic actually touching the top of the ganache. Set aside until it has taken on the desired consistency. If you want a thin layer to spread over the cake, you can pour it in liquid form so that you get an even, light and shiny layer. For a thicker and smoother ganache, leave it for about 2 hours at room temperature. (The ganache can be stored at room temperature, provided it is not too hot, for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen, but it will lose some of its shine when thawed .)
6. Make the cinnamon mascarpone espresso cream, if desired: Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat for 1-2 minutes, until soft peaks form.
7. Peel the parchment paper from the cake and discard it. Transfer to a serving platter and spread the ganache, if using, on top of the cake. Cut into wedges, divide the cake into plates and, if desired, pour the mascarpone cream on the side. With or without icing, the cake keeps well for 4 to 5 days in an airtight container.
Point: If you can’t find self-rising flour, mix 240g plain flour and 2 3/4 tsp baking powder and use that instead.
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, adapted by Yotam Ottolengh. – This article originally appeared in the New York Times.