Flourless chocolate and almond cake

Chocolate and almond cake
Chocolate and almond cake 

It seems illogical, but I dislike intensely strawberries dipped into chocolate and yet I love a super-fudgy chocolate cake offered with strawberries and cream. My preferred chocolate cake in this combination is the wonderful classic Reine de Saba or Queen of Sheba, popularly known as the flourless chocolate cake; here is my version, which I loved served with balsamic strawberries.

Ingredients

125g bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 tbsp brandy

1 tbsp black coffee

100g unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup castor sugar

3/4 cup ground almonds

3 eggs, separated

icing sugar

Optional extra: Strawberries in balsamic vinegar

1 punnet strawberries, hulled

3 tbsp castor sugar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method

Preheat oven to 160C. Butter an 18cm round cake tin and line it with baking paper. (If you are sure your springform tin does not leak you might prefer to use it, as this cake is fragile and often cracks when turned out.)

Combine chocolate, brandy and coffee in a bowl over water or in a double boiler. Stir when melted and add butter and sugar. Mix well.

Add ground almonds and stir very well. Remove from heat.

Lightly beat egg yolks and stir into bowl.

Beat egg whites until firm. Lighten chocolate mixture with a spoonful of egg white, then fold in rest of whites and spoon into prepared tin.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

The cake will still test a little gooey in the centre. It will have developed a crust and be very fragile. Cool completely in the tin, then carefully invert onto a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar.

Serve with a generous quantity of fresh strawberries and cream or strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar (below).

For strawberries in balsamic vinegar

Combine in a bowl and leave at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Serve berries with the syrup.

The quality of balsamic vinegar varies enormously. This recipe will be best if you use a syrupy "traditional" balsamic vinegar. Expect it to be expensive.