Torta Caprese (Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake)

This cake is my new dinner party go-to. The cake itself has it all; it’s intensely chocolate-y, rich and moist, the perfect dessert cake and between you and me, it is INCREDIBLY easy (yes, I am shouting at you). It takes very little time, dirties very few dishes and keeps well (although it never lasts long around here!) To serve, simply dust with icing sugar and top with berries and ice-cream.

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Ingredients (serves 6-8)
200g butter
200g dark chocolate
4 eggs, separated
170g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g almond meal
Icing sugar, to dust
Ice cream & berries, to serve

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Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (or around 150 fan-forced). Grease & line a 24cm cake pan with baking paper.

Melt the butter and set aside.

Process (or finely chop) the chocolate until it is in tiny bits, but still retains a little texture.

Place egg yolks, sugar & vanilla in a medium bowl and beat until pale and thick. Fold in chocolate, butter and almond meal (mixture will be very thick)

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggwhites until soft peaks form. Gently fold in chocolate mixture, ensuring you don’t knock the air out.

Spoon into the prepared pan, level the top and bake for 50-60 minutes or until just firm to the touch.

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Set aside to cool in the pan, then turn out.

Serve while still warm with icing sugar, berries and ice cream. Bellissimo!

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Adapted from ‘Torta Caprese’ in delicious. ‘Wicked: Sinful desserts from your favourite chefs’.

Chocolate Praline Cake

This has been my favourite cake for as long as I can remember. A rich, fudgy brownie-like base topped with a crunchy, sweet praline topping – what more could you want? I love serving this with fresh raspberries and double cream.

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Ingredients
Cake
180g butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate melts
3 eggs
250g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
50g plain flour

Praline Topping
100g butter
100g caster sugar
1 ½  tblspns golden syrup
60g flaked almonds

Method
Melt butter & chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, stir until smooth.

Beat eggs and sugar until creamy and changed in colour.

Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and stir to combine.

Fold sifted almond meal and flour into mixture and mix well.

Pour mixture into a greased and based-lined 19x29cm rectangular slice pan & spread evenly. Bake at 175°C for 30mins then cool in tin.

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For the topping, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, boil for 2 mins. Spread topping over cake.

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Bake at 175°C for a further 10-15 mins or until topping golden brown. Cool in tin (topping will harden on cooling).

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Cut into desired shape and size and serve with berries and whipped cream.

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Keeps for 5 days in an airtight container.

Adapted from the Australian Gourmet Traveller, November 1996.

Fudgy Chocolate Mudcake

This is one of those wonderful dessert recipes that you can make ahead of time and then just forget about – perfect for a dinner party with other complex courses. Dark, rich, fudgy and decadent this chocolate cake has it all! It is extra delicious when served with whipped cream and berries or with a berry coulis.

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Ingredients (serves 10-12)
125g butter, chopped
375g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup plain flour, sifted
2 tblspns milk
1 cup almond meal, sifted
5 eggs
Icing sugar, for dusting

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 22cm round spring-form tin.

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Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or into a saucepan over a very low heat). Stir until melted and combined.

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Add the sugar, sifted flour, milk and sifted almond meal to a large bowl and gently mix to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk until combined.

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Pour in the melted chocolate and butter mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

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Pour mixture into prepared tin.

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For a smooth top and even-textured cake, fold a pleat into a sheet of aluminium foil. Cover the cake, pinch the middle of the pleat and pull upwards to form a tent-like shape.

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Bake the cake for 40-45mins until cooked on the edges but still soft and fudgy in the centre. Uncover, let it cool for 10mins at room temperature before refrigerating for 2-3 hours (but bring back to room temperature before serving).

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Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream and berries.

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Adapted from Donna Hay’s ‘Ultimate One-Bowl Chocolate Dessert Cake’ from Fast, Fresh, Simple