I’ve made a few flour-less chocolate cakes, but none of them turned out as excellent as this one! This recipe used more eggs than others that I’ve tried, and the addition of the nut meal is genius. The nut flavour is actually quite subtle, but the little crunch adds so much. The real magic, though, is the addition of the Paneangeli “Lievito Pane Degli Angeli” Vaniglinato – per Dolci, an Italian “yeast for cake” baking product. This was the first flour-less cake that actually rose. It was still denser than a flour cake, but much lighter than any other recipe I’ve tried before. I was sure I wouldn’t find any Paneangeli in Prince Rupert, but it turns out there is a small Italian market in town. They don’t actually sell it, but the proprietor was very kind and sold me some out of her private stash. You can buy this product online in various places. I don’t know enough about it to tell if I can substitute it with other things. If you’re making the cake for someone who is gluten intolerant, you may wish to do a little more research to make sure there’s no gluten in this product. This was a superb cake that everybody loved. This is a keeper recipe.
Actual yield: 1 10″ cake (a 9″ pan will all but overflow)
UPDATE (15 Apr 2012): First of all, I still just adore this cake. I have made it many times lately and it’s still my favourite chocolate cake ever. I ran out of Paneangeli, so this last time I used 2 tsp of standard baking powder instead and put a tsp or two of vanilla extract in the melted chocolate. It worked out just great. This is what I’ll do from now on.
For our next holiday baking run we’re going to try baking this batter in mini-loaf pans so we can put this delicious cake on our baking plates. I’ll report back when we do.
UPDATE (06 May 2012): Made this again last night. I thought I had almonds, but it turned out I didn’t, so I instead used all hazelnuts. It did change the flavour, obviously, but subtly. I love hazelnuts, so I thought it tasted great. I undercooked it just the tiniest bit, and it resulted in a much moister cake. I like it drier and crumblier, but others might like it moister. Serving it before it completely cools will give you the same result, too. Again, I used 4 tsp of regular baking powder and 1 tsp-and-a-bit of vanilla extract in the melted chocolate to replace the Paneangeli.
Preparation Note: When you add the sugar, the fat from the butter will start to separate from the chocolate mixture. (Don’t ask me why.) Don’t worry. This is normal. I find, though, that when I use granulated sugar, the separation is much more pronounced, and I end up with a thicker, tougher batter. When I use the caster sugar, the separation is much less pronounced, and I end up with a softer, smoother batter. I’m not convinced it makes any difference to the final product, but don’t freak out (like I did) when that separation occurs. Also, when you add the egg whites, the first addition is more like cutting than folding. The batter is quite dry. The folding gets much easier as you add the egg whites.
UPDATE (18 May 2012): I finally got around to making the cake in cupcake form. I still want to do mini-loafs, but I didn’t want to buy new pans until I made sure it would work in concept. I made the cake as normal and then spooned the mixture into regular-sized cupcake tins about 3/4 full—no paper cups. (I hate paper cups.) I cooked them at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. It made 20 cupcakes, but only 13 made it out of the pan in one piece. You have to make sure you thoroughly coat the the pan with cocoa powder. I only used Pam, and any uncoated sections adhered to the cake. I’m so glad this worked because now I can make individual-sized portions for holiday baking. Enjoy!