I was called aside by one of the more controlled and discreet of my colleagues, and initially I was worried by what she might have to say to me. But instead, “I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the cake you brought in today” was what she murmured quietly.
It’s always nice to get a bit of encouragement but I wasn’t so surprised about the success of this particular cake because of the provenance of the original recipe. It comes from a book written by Carlos Braz Lopes. The author just happens to be the owner for a shop in Lisbon called O Melhor Do Mundo Bolo De Chocolate – which translates as The Best Chocolate Cake In The World. Not a modest name, but, I can attest, it is an entirely accurate one.
There were, if fact, three variations of this sublime creation to choose from: normal; 75% dark chocolate; and 75% dark chocolate plus raspberries.
I chose to sample the latter, which seemed to incorporate the best of all possible worlds, and it was indeed heavenly! The cake was interweaved with raspberry jelly and chocolate meringue, a confection in the true sense of the word.
The customers of this marvellous shop were a catholic lot in the all-embracing sense; there were children, old ladies, lovers, respectable businessmen, and respectable businessmen in dark glasses who looked more like mafia (“Come on” said my companion, “he’s driving a Smart!”).
Carlos Braz Lopes’ book is entitled The Best Chocolate Book In The World. It doesn’t, for obvious reasons, include the recipe for the best chocolate cake. I was relieved because it looked heartily complicated (go here for an account of the mess I got into when I tackled Heston Blumenthal’s Black Forrest Gâteau, and how to deal with complicated chocolate cakes).
But Braz Lopes finishes his book with a flourish. “To bring my chocolate recipe book to a close I would like to ‘go out with a bang'”. He can’t give us the best recipe, he tells us, so he’s offering what he reckons is the second best one. This cake has a molten, soft centre…. one he made before these cakes were fashionable.
Recipe for the almost best chocolate cake in the world
- 300g best quality 70% plus chocolate
- 200g/1 cup golden caster sugar
- 150g/5 oz butter
- 2 tbsps Dutch cocoa powder
- 5 eggs
- Lightly whipped cream or raspberries to serve
- Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bain marie.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa; and the melted chocolate and butter. It should look like a mousse.
- Line a cake tin with baking paper, and pour in the mixture. Put into a roasting tin, and pour hot water to about halfway up. Bake in a 170ºC fan oven for 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 150ºC and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Chill overnight in the fridge.
- Serve with the whipped cream.
This post is dedicated to Natalie Grayson.