Flourless chocolate cake with peanut butter and chocolate buttercream

February 12, 2018

Flourless chocolate cake has been on heavy rotation ever since I went gluten free 5 years ago. Not only is it densely, richly chocolate-y in flavour, but it’s flourless nature means that it’s a foolproof addition to any dinner or birthday (unless your friends are allergic to nuts and gluten, then we’re back to square one tbh)

I developed this recipe about 4 years ago, when I was basically just starting out. I had a Blogspot, an IPhone camera, no editing software, and absolutely no clue, but I look back pretty fondly on those days, overall. I had an oblivious, naive passion for recipe testing, and, regardless of the questionable photos that accompanied the original recipe (I have included some for your viewing pleasure) it’s still delightfully foolproof and delightfully flourless.

On the note of delightful, can we talk about the peanut butter and chocolate buttercream? My original rendition was purely peanut butter based, but I’ve tweaked it here to include slightly less peanut butter, and more chocolate. That kind of counts as balance, right?

FOR THE FLOURLESS CAKE:

75g dark cooking chocolate
100g butter
4 tablespoons cocoa or cacao
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1/2 cup espresso (I use 1 freshly brewed espresso shot, and then fill the remainder of the 1/2 cup measure with milk)
1 1/2 cups (150g) almond meal
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

 

FOR THE PEANUT CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM:

75g butter, softened
1/4 cup icing sugar (don’t be like me and mindlessly use caster sugar)
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (I have used both smooth and chunky, both to great success)
2 tablespoons cacao or cocoa

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl, over a small saucepan, half filled with water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the saucepan, or you risk overcooking your chocolate. Nobody likes overcooked chocolate.
  3. Once they’re melted, sieve the cocoa and sugar, concurrently, into the melted chocolate. I’m normally too lazy to sieve, but I learnt from Ottolenghi that sieving cocoa together with sugar discourages the cocoa from clumping up, which to be honest is my pet peeve with cocoa. A revolutionary tidbit from a revolutionary man.
  4. Mix the sugar and cocoa into the chocolate, and continue to do so until most of the sugar grains have dissolved. Add the coffee milk mixture and the almond milk, and continue mixing until combined. Take the saucepan off the heat, and very carefully remove the bowl from the saucepan of water. Use a tea towel and stand back so you don’t steam burn your hands or face. Been there done that.
  5. Mix in the eggs, baking powder and vinegar, and once combined, pour into a greased springform tin. I used a 23cm tin, but I’ve also used 2 mini tins, to create a mini cake tower, which is fun. Whatever you do, don’t go too much bigger than a 23cm tin, or you’ll have a pancake, not a cake.
  6. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cake is cooked through (note that this will depend hugely on what size cake tin you use, so watch it carefully)
  7. While the cake is cooking, cream together the icing sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Continue beating until, as the name ‘creaming’ suggests, they become a light. creamy colour, with an airy-ish texture. Add the peanut butter and cocoa, and continue beating (be aware that cocoa might fly up as you start, I use my hand to cover the bowl and minimise the losses) until you have a buttercream. Once done, place it in the fridge until you’re ready to ice
  8. Once the cake has cooked, allow it to cool slightly before running a knife around the edge, and removing it from the tin. Allow it to cool completely before icing, or the buttercream will melt off. Delicious, but not visually grabbing. I like to top mine with berries and a pinch of sea salt.

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