Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chocolate Nemesis Torte

When we were at uni, Mr Cake and I were both involved in UCanDance, otherwise known as the University of Canterbury Dance Club. Actually, it's how we met, but that's a story for another day. ;-) UCanDance is a great organisation, not just because you get to dance, which is fun, but because it is an excellent social club - everyone is very friendly and though dancing is the excuse, getting a chance to unwind in a relaxed social setting is what makes the club stand the test of time.

Classes usually wrap up at around 10pm, which is pretty early in the evening for studentfolk, so usually a group would land at a cafe somewhere for late night chips, coffee and cake (that covers all the major food groups, right?). The cafe of choice changes periodically, but for a large portion of my time with the club Le Cafe, for its reliable late-night-openness, was the destination of choice - and they had great desserts! My favourite was their chocolate nemesis cake, which was a decadent and almost deadly hit of chocolate, served with vanilla ice-cream and whatever fruit was in season. Sadly, the last time we visited I noticed the nemesis cake was no longer on the menu.

It's okay, though, because a little while ago I was scrolling through some of the glorious pictures on Tastespotting and a very chocolatey cake caught my eye - I clicked through and, well, I think you can see where this is going. ;-) 

The recipe contains an astonishingly low four ingredients (five if you count water), which not only makes it fantastically decadent, it's also gluten free. It's not especially labour intensive, either - a few processes more than your average cake, perhaps, but it's worth it!

And even though you might dirty a couple of extra bowls there's nothing too tricky - melt the butter and chocolate together, beat the eggs with some sugar, boil the water with a little more sugar, and beat the eggs till foamy. Then mix it all together. 

The baking part is done in a water bath - you fill a roasting pan or large baking dish with water, and put the cake tin in it. It's best if you can use a non-springform tin, since that will eliminate the chance of water reaching your cake - but if, like me, that's not an option you can use tinfoil to help keep the water out. I was a bit worried when I took my cake out of the water bath, as it dribbled a bit of water and I thought the cake might have been compromised, but it was fine. 

It's a pretty dense cake - I like how smooth it is on top - and though it's not much of a looker (it would be better if I'd been more diligent with my tin lining, but I was feeling lazy. ;-) 

The cake is utterly delicious - I made it on Sunday and we just polished off the last of it now (it probably should have lasted longer but it was too delicious!) and it actually improves with age - it was better tonight than last night, and better last night than the night before.

We had it with milk ice-cream and berries - so almost the Le Cafe experience. And did it live up? Definitely! It was pretty much as I remembered - very decadent, and excellent with the sharp tang of raspberries and the cool ice-cream. Have you ever replicated something you fell in love with at a cafe? 

Chocolate Nemesis Torte (from What You Give Away You Keep)

340g 70% dark chocolate
225g unsalted butter
5 eggs
210g caster sugar
scant 1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Grease and line a 25cm cake tin with baking paper. If you are using a springform tin wrap some foil around it to prevent leaking.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat when the chocolate is almost all melted. Stir until smooth. Beat the eggs and two thirds of the sugar until the volume triples.

Heat the remaining sugar with the water until dissolved and allow it to boil for 1 -2 minutes to make a light syrup. Pour the syrup into the chocolate and butter mixture and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour the chocolate into the egg mixture and fold together gently until combined. Pour into the baking tin.

Put a folded tea towel into the bottom of a deep sided oven dish and place the cake on this (the teatowel helps prevent the cake moving around). Pour hot water into the pan to come 3/4 of the way up the sides of the cake tin.

Bake for 50 minutes, until set in the centre, then allow the cake to cool in the oven for 3 hours. Dust with icing sugar to serve.


  1. Ohhh yummy. I can't help thinking what it would taste like with some orange zest in it.

    I actually ended up making a fictional dish, the marshmallow mermaid pie from the movie waitress. It's easy and yum.

  2. That is similar to a "Bruce Bogtrotter", might have to give it a try sometime. Am always on the look out for good chocolate cake recipes, particularly lighter ones at the moment.

  3. Oh I am SO trying that. It looks incredible!

  4. Stef, orange zest sounds like a fabulous addition! Also, that's quite cool, making the pie - does sound pretty deadly though. ;-)

    Kim, this is amazingly good, but sadly probably not going to count as a "lighter option"... Sorry!

  5. looks delicious - do you think that it would taste good if you substituted half of the water for rum to give it a richer flavour?

  6. Prue, I'm sure that would be completely delicious! :-)

  7. Hi, I have been a long time reader but this is my first comment.
    I would like to try baking this cake...I am just a bit confused about the last step. So you place a towel into a deep dish, place the cake tin on top of it and then fill the deep dish with water? You bake it,leaving the teatowel in the bowl?

  8. Hi Ruby! It sounds a bit weird, but yes, that's exactly what you do. The towel just helps the cake tin not move around with all the water. :-)

  9. Thank you :) The cake turned out great! At first I thought it failed coz it was sooo soft but as you mentioned in your recipe, it really needs to rest for a couple of hours before eating it. It hardens up furing that time. it was much loved by hubby and friends.


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