Tuesday Treat

Chocolate Nemesis

This is the recipe for the River Cafe’s legendary chocolate cake. If you have been fortunate enough to eat at the restaurant, this is probably the dessert you would have chosen, it is famed for its rich mousse-like consistency, believe me you will be in heaven when you taste this! Over the years, I have found various recipes claiming to be the ‘River Cafe Nemesis’ but the discrepancies between the baking times, ingredient amounts and cooking temperatures have made the winning recipe elusive – even the recipe published in their ‘River Cafe Cookbook’ had something ‘missing’ (and called for 10 whole eggs!). So, I must admit that I had given up trying to find it…until just recently, when I discovered that during lockdown the River Cafe was selling the cake online for £60 – yes exactly, not cheap! It was a bit of a ‘red rag to a bull’ – I was determined to find the recipe so I could make it myself. This time, on my google search I discovered  a ‘YouTube’ video of a River Café chef making the cake, and although they didn’t exactly give you the ingredients or the cooking times in a straightforward manner, it was enough to be able to copy the recipe – and yes, I think I have absolutely found the winning one, what’s more, it is very easy to make and is gluten free; it only needs four ingredients plus a little water…you will thank me for sharing this!

The cake, as I mentioned, has a very soft mousse-like consistency, so it is better served from the fridge, in this way it will be firmer and easier to slice. Serve it with a dollop of crème fraiche, you really do need this to cut the chocolate as it is very rich!

350g dark chocolate (I use Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate)

225g butter (plus a good knob to grease the tin)

5 eggs

300g caster sugar

125ml water

Cocoa powder to decorate (optional)

(24cm cake tin and a roasting tin, to use as a bain marie)

  1. First of all prepare your cake tin, generously butter the tin and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and melt together until smooth.
  3. At the same time place 100g of the sugar in a small saucepan with 125ml of water, heat gently to melt the sugar to form a sugar syrup.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and 200g of the remaining sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture has quadrupled in size – this can take up to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the hot syrup to the melted chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Now add this chocolate syrup to the eggs, continuing to beat as you do so, until completely combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.
  8. Put a folded tea towel onto the bottom of the roasting tin (this will stop the cake tin from slipping) and place the cake tin in the roasting tin.
  9. Pour boiling water around the cake tin, so that it comes half way up its sides.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven, 120’c fan, for at least 1 hour, until the cake is just set on top and the sides come away from the edge when gently pulled. Leave to go completely cold in the bain marie (about 2 hours).
  11. Carefully remove from the tin, the base will be the top of the cake. If using, sprinkle over sieved cocoa powder.
  12. Keep refrigerated, and serve in slices with crème fraiche.

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