Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake

Although the frosting here is divine, for a less rich, but still wonderful cake, leave off the frosting and dust with powdered sugar.

For the frosting:
1/4 cup cold water
5 tbs. coconut butter (this is not the same as coconut oil)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tbs. unsweetened chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cup hot water, from a recently boiled kettle
6 tbs. coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Heat the oven to 350°F, then start with the frosting. Put all the frosting ingredients except the chopped chocolate in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a boil. Once everything is dissolved, turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Swirl the pan to melt the chocolate, then whisk into a dark, glossy frosting. Set aside to cool.

Line the bottom of a 8″ springform pan with parchment paper. Put the flour, baking soda, espresso powder and cocoa in a bowl and fork to mix. Combine the sugar, hot water, coconut oil and vinegar and stir to melt. Add to the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean apart from a few crumbs. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool in the pan.

Back to the frosting, give it a good stir to check the consistency. It should be runny enough to cover the cake but thick enough to stay mostly on the top. Unmold the cooled cake and place on a serving plate. Pour the frosting over the top. At this point you can decorate the cake with edible rose petals, chopped pistachios, etc.. Leave to stand for 30 minutes before slicing.

Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake

This is one of those dark, squidgy-bellied cakes that is irresistible. The mixture of ground almonds and amaretto gives it a marzipan-like quality that balances perfectly with the bitterness of the chocolate.

100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100g unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
2 tbs. cocoa powder, plus more to dust
3 tbs. Amaretto liqueur

For the amaretti cream:

250ml heavy cream
1 tbs. Amaretti liqueur
4 Amaretti biscuits, crumbled

Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the sides and line the bottom of a 8″ springform pan.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl and set over a pot of just simmering water. Stir to melt, then pour into a jug and cool a little.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick, mousse-like and doubled. This will take 1-2 minutes. Fork the almonds and cocoa together in a small bowl, then turn the mixer to low and add to the egg mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon.

Stir the Amaretto liqueur into the slightly cooled chocolate, then pour the mixture into the egg batter, whisking all the time. Pour and scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is coming away at the edges, the top has formed a slightly crack and a cake tester comes out with just a few damp crumbs.

Remove to a wire rack, drape a clean towel over the top and leave to cool. Once cool, unclip the tin and transfer onto a serving plate. Sift additional cocoa powder over the top.

Make the amaretti cream by whipping the heavy cream until thickened then adding the Amaretti liquor. Serve dolloped over the cake and sprinkled with the biscuit crumbs.

Serves 10-12