Monday, April 19, 2010

Chocolate Nemesis Cake Adventures

Chocolate Nemesis
Home Cooking

As I'm typing this post, every q, a and z is causing agony. The reason is that my left hand pinky may or may not be broken (since I've never had a broken bone before in my life, I can't really tell). How it got to this point is that yesterday was one of the most uncoordinated days in my life. I have little coordination by nature. I can't ride a bike. Throwing something at me is just asking for it to fall to the ground and break. When I'm rushed at clinic, I get major butter finger syndrome and everything I touch goes flying in some obscure direction.

Carefully cropped party photo to retain anonymity

Well, yesterday, this got escalated to a new level. It so happens that the season premier of Masterchef Australia was on and I was having a little dinner party to celebrate. Over the years, I've grown progressively more and more disorganized with anything I plan so even on the day, I had no idea about who was coming or whether anyone even knew my address. It was thus very convenient that at a crucial moment, my phone decided to die. Usually, these electronic failures happen when I drop or waterlog the devices but this time, I just picked it up and it wasn't working. I tried recharging and so on but still no. Totally sucked. Being the sook that I am, I crossed my arms in a corner and refused to speak to anyone until people actually arrived and I realized I'm not as technology-dependent as I think.

Ironically my phone started working again but afterwards, I dropped it several times (tumbling onto the hardwood floor). Oh, the same thing happened to my camera. Honestly, I have no say in what my hands do and this is why when I was waving a friend goodbye later on in the night, I slammed my fist into a wall. There was a crunch. And that, I think, was my finger!

Wok full of molten chocolate

Pointless story aside... I have more to tell, this time about my cake.

I can't even remember how we first came across the chocolate nemesis but I believe it was one of those late-night food Googling incidents. Reviewer after reviewer claimed it was one of the most delicious chocolate cakes ever created. I heard that Jamie Oliver did a demonstration for it at some food show. It is a River Cafe recipe... I don't know what the River Cafe is but I hear it's a famed foodie haven and the Chocolate Nemesis is their signature cake.

By the time I had to come up with something to contribute for my Masterchef dinner party, I'd forgotten all about the chocolate nemesis. Some of my other girlfriends were going to bring dessert items so I planned to make some salad but then I remembered this recipe bookmarked away and thought it was prime time to use it.

Slotted into my limited oven space

The recipe is epic (as you'll read below). There are only 4 ingredients but on any diet or health plan, they would be found at the top of the 'avoid' list. Totaled up, that is nearly 2kg of sin. I don't know why I thought it would make one standard cake (wait, maybe it's because I'm an IDIOT) but it ended up being so much batter that we folded it in a wok. We had enough for 2 cake tins and 2 ramekins.

Family of cakes

One ramekin was sacrificed immediately after baking for taste-test purposes and another was left for my parents to try. I neatly packaged the 2 cakes to carry home for my party (transportation was necessary because the cakes were baked at my parents house but to be served at my house). Unfortunately, I must have done something else idiotic because by the time the cakes got home, one was completely destroyed and the other got off lightly by being merely hideous. I suppose it's because I tipped the box and they hadn't fully set. Let that be a lesson, guys. I wanted to take a photo of the wreck for illustrative purposes but I was too overcome with a sense of failure and ended up binning the mess before it left a permanent scar on my mind.

Chocolate Nemesis
Serves MANY MANY PEOPLE; Maybe 15-20 (maybe more)

  • 675g 70% dark chocolate
  • 450g butter
  • 10 eggs
  • 675g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a 30cm diameter cake pan with greaseproof paper, than grease and flour it.
2. Beat the eggs with a third of the sugar until the volume quadruples-this will take at least 10 minutes in an electric mixer.3. Heat the remaining sugar in a small pan with 250 ml water until the sugar has completely dissolved to a syrup.4. Place the chocolate and butter and stir to combine until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.5. Combine the chocolate mixture and sugar syrup and then add to the eggs, folding gently to combine.6. Pour into the cake tin and place in bain-marie of hot water (I just placed the cake tin inside a square pan filled with hot water). It is essential for the cake to cook evenly that the water comes up to the rim of the tin. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until set (it took me at least 40min but I was checking every 5min - it's ready when the center of the cake feels solid on the surface when you press it, even if it's still gooey underneath).
7. Leave to cool in the tin and then transfer to a fridge for at least 12 hours to set.
8. Remove the cake from the fridge ~ 1 hour prior to serving to allow it to soften a bit. I used a springform pan lined twice with foil and then buttered and greased so it wasn't difficult for me to unmould the cake. If you use an ordinary tin, you might need to cut around the circumference with a knife or hold a hot towel around the outside.
9. Slice with a hot knife, wiped down between slices.
10. Serve with double cream, creme fraiche and/or fresh berries.

After all my fears that the cake would be an expensive flop, it actually did taste quite amazing. Our first taste happened soon post-baking so that cake wasn't even close to set. We sort of looked at each other and said 'is that under-cooked?' but went on to finish the whole ramekin.

My next panic attack came when I removed the cake from the fridge and it felt like a solid block of chocolate.

Close-up texture shot

All that aside, when served at a PROPER temperature with an adequate amount of cream to dull the intensity of chocolate, the chocolate nemesis is a win. It's smooth, creamy and very, very rich.

Some suggested reducing the amount of sugar, which is a valid alteration. That said, you're probably still not going to be able to have 1-2 small slices before vowing to not touch anything with cocoa for a month.

Maybe I'm a chocolate wuss? Doubted.

When you decide to bake this, please halve the recipe. Unless you're cooking for a hoard of maybe 50+ (only a slight exaggeration).


  1. I am making this for Christmas. Let's hope it turns out as good as yours!

  2. Hi mykitchenfromscratch...

    Did you make it? How did it go?

  3. It was delicious and is now one of my all time favourite. I am making it now and I just saw your comment. =)