Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
225 g (8 oz) dark chocolate, in drops or broken into pieces
225 g (8 oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
325 g (111/2 oz) caster sugar
6 eggs, separated
200 g (7 oz) ground almonds
75 g (3 oz) plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
for the icing
275 g (10 oz) icing sugar
100 g (31/2 oz) cocoa powder
125 g (41/2 oz) butter
175 g (6 oz) caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F), Gas mark 3, then butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with a disc of baking parchment. If you’re using a spring-form tin, make sure the base is upside down, so there’s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave just until melted, stirring occasionally, then set aside. Either in a large bowl using a wooden spoon or in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle beater, cream the butter until soft.
Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well between each addition. Mix in the ground almonds and the melted chocolate, followed by the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract. Tip the egg whites into a separate bowl, add a pinch of salt, and beat until stiff but still smooth in appearance – do not over-beat. Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture and then pour the mixture into the
prepared tin. Bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean but moist. Leave in the tin for 20 minutes, then loosen the edges of the cake using a small, sharp knife and remove the sides of the tin before carefully transferring to a serving plate to cool down fully. While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Place the butter, caster sugar and 100ml (31?2fl oz) of water in a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Stir all the ingredients together until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix together well. When the cake has cooled, pour over the icing, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.