Tag Archives: Coffee

Flourless chocolate espresso cake for the overworked and overtired

13 Apr

Dear Cake Doctor

I am absolutely exhausted after working long hours and partying my way through the Easter long weekend. Please help me wake from my walking slumber?


Pretty Pooped


Hi Pretty Pooped,

It sounds as though you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. Time to pop a flourless chocolate espresso cake in the oven!  In this prescription, the heaviness of flour is replaced by cloudy beaten egg whites, but the cake remains rich and nutty with the help of melted chocolate and ground almonds, cut through by coffee and cognac. In short – this cake will wake you up and give you the burst of energy you need to pick yourself up off the floor and carry on. Complaint cured!

But first there’s the pleasure in its concoction – relish beating the egg whites into line and don’t be afraid to take a swig of cognac and a sip of espresso before adding them to the dark chocolate that’s melting with butter over a simmering saucepan.  The smell of coffee, dark chocolate, butter and cognac gently warming will soothe and settle, and as the cake sets in the oven, you’ll have time for a quick powernap on the sofa. Once it’s out, ring your friends and turn on the espresso machine. You’ll be marvellous company again after just one slice of this dense and nutty, rich and chocolatey delight.

Although the recipe was inspired by Elizabeth David’s flourless chocolate cake in French Provincial Cooking, I’ve since more than doubled the chocolate quantity, added some vanilla essence to add to the depth of flavour, and insisted on a splash of cognac for a warm hug at the end.

Flourless chocolate espresso cake should get you right back on track – just don’t take a fork to it right before bedtime!


The Cake Doctor x


COMPLAINT: overworked and overtired

PRESCRIPTION: flourless chocolate espresso cake (inspired by Elizabeth David’s flourless chocolate cake)


250g dark chocolate (the darker the better), broken into pieces

150g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 tablespoon cognac (rum or brandy will also do)

1 tablespoon espresso coffee

100g ground almonds

5 eggs at room temperature, separated

Small pinch of salt

Icing sugar or cocoa, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Butter the base and sides of a springform (removable-based) cake tin and line with baking paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter, sugar, vanilla essence, cognac and coffee in a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water – and make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Once the chocolate and butter are melted, remove from the heat and stir to ensure all ingredients are well mixed in. Leave to one side to cool a little.

Place the egg whites and salt in a clean, dry, large bowl, and beat (preferably with electric beaters to save your poor tired arms) until ‘soft peaks’ form. If you’re using an electric beater, start on a slightly slower speed than the maximum, then as the whites become frothy, gradually increase the speed.

Your whites are sufficiently peaked when you can pull a finger out of the whites and leave a ‘soft peak’ that then drops slightly. Leave the whites to one side.

Now, turn back to the melted chocolate and butter mix. Rinse the beaters and beat the ground almonds in to the chocolate and butter, then add the egg yolks one by one. The mixture will start to thicken and slow your beaters down so change to a spatula if you like.

Use a plastic spatula or metal (preferably slotted) spoon to stir a little of your beaten egg whites into the chocolate mix to thin the mixture slightly, then fold (not mix) in the rest of your egg whites, bit by bit, taking care not to lose the volume you beat in to the whites. Folding means doing just that – collecting mixture on the spatula or in the spoon and folding it over and on top of the mixture in the bowl.

Gently pour the mix into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven for 40 minutes.

When the 40 minutes are up, lightly press the top of the cake to check it springs back, then switch off the oven and leave the cake in there with the door open slightly (try sticking a wooden spoon in the door to create a gap!). This way, the cake will cool slowly, thereby avoiding the risk of the centre collapsing. The top will probably still separate and crack, but this just gives it a lovely, ‘homemade’ look. You can also pick off bits of the top without anyone really noticing.

Now, enjoy! Warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar or cocoa, served with ice cream or just a shot of coffee. You’ll bounce back in no time.


The Cake Doctor x