I cannot describe this cake. Actually, it is not really a cake. The chocolate layers taste more like a soft brownie or dense chocolate mousse. These heavenly layers of flourless chocolate cake, are sandwiched together with cream, and caramel almonds, then topped with chocolate ganache flavoured with Grand Marnier. So there. I described it. The taste, I cannot.
Before you start: This is a big, four layer cake. It’s enough for 15 people or more. If you wish to make it for less, please half the ingredients and see the note at the end.
Ingredients for the sponge:
- 450 grams semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 227 grams unsalted butter
- 10 eggs separated
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar, divided
Ingredients for the filling:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 Tbs icing sugar
- 2 cups chopped caramelized almonds (store-bought are also fine)
Ingredients for the chocolate ganache frosting:
- 200g bittersweet chocolate
- 200g cream
- 1 Tbs Grand Marnier
Method for cake:
Preheat oven 150 C. Lightly butter two 9 by 13 inch shallow pan and line with parchment paper. Leave the paper hanging from the sides of the pan. Then lightly butter the parchment paper.
In a double boiler melt the chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Add the butter in three parts and stir until completely melted and chocolate is shiny and smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks with half the sugar at medium high speed until pale yellow and tripled in volume (5-6 minutes). Remove the bowl from the mixer. With a rubber spatula fold in the chocolate mixture until smooth and glossy.
In another clean bowl and with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the remaining sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in the chocolate mixture, about a quarter of the egg whites to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites and mix, trying not to deflate the mixture too much.
Spread the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes. The cake will rise slightly and a light crust will form on top.
Make the ganache while cakes bake. Put chopped chocolate in a glass, heatproof bowl. Heat the cream to boiling point and pour into chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Mix in the Grand Marnier and leave to cool to room temperature.
Let the cake cool in the pan completely. Then chill (still in the pan) until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight (cover with plastic wrap if leaving the cake to cool over night).
Assemble the cake. In a bowl of a stand mixer beat the cream with the icing sugar until soft peeks form. Remove the well-chilled cakes from the pan using the parchment paper hanging from the sides. The cakes are very fragile but don’t worry if they crack. With a sharp knife (I do this with a cutter), cut the cakes in half lengthwise, cutting all the way through the parchment paper. You will end up with 4 long pieces of cake, with the parchment paper still attached.
Using the parchment paper, transfer one piece of cake on a serving platter, flipping it, so that you have the parchment facing upwards. Gently remove the parchment and discard. Spread with one third of the cream and sprinkle with one fourth of the chopped almonds. Repeat process with remaining pieces of cake, flipping and removing the paper, and then sandwiching with the cream and almonds.The paper will help you assemble and stack the fragile cakes without braking them.
Top final layer with the ganache and sprinkle with almonds. If the ganache becomes to thick to pour on top of the cake, reheat gently over low heat, stirring, until the desired consistency is reached.
Serve chilled, to astounded guests.
Note: If you wish to make a smaller cake, half the ingredients and bake only one cake. Then with a sharp knife cut in three equal size pieces (not lengthwise). Repeat process as written above.