This cake, although not Nikkei in its own right, is a rich and chocolatey dessert that works a treat with Japanese Matcha ice cream. There is something about green tea and dark chocolate that together create an alchemy only a few desserts can claim. This cake can be made a couple of days in advance, making it a great dessert with minimal fuss. So popular was this flourless chocolate cake and home made green tea ice cream combination in my Nikkei supper club that it was a fixture on the menu for well over a year.
- 300g good quality dark chocolate (at least 55% cocoa solids but no more than 70%)
- 140g unsalted butter
- 6 tbsp Armagnac or brandy
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 140g golden caster sugar
- 200g ready-to-eat, stoneless prunes
- 300g mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries and strawberries) for decoration
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Equipment: a 9-inch (23cm) springform cake tin, greased, and lined with baking parchment.
- The prunes will need to be soaked preferably overnight in Armagnac. Before soaking, place them in a saucepan with 275ml water or until they are completely covered, bring them to a simmering point, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Pour the prunes and their cooking liqueur into a bowl and stir in 4 tablespoons of Armagnac while they are still warm. Leave to cool, cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight (or for a few hours if you forget to start a day earlier).
- When you are ready to make the cake, pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Start by breaking the dark chocolate into small pieces into a bowl, add the butter, and melt them over Bain-Marie with some simmering water, it will only take a few minutes (place some kitchen paper in the water to stop the bowl having direct contact with the heat and burning the chocolate). Stir it to a smooth, glossy mixture. Off the heat, add 2 tablespoons of Armagnac, mix well and leave to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Using an electric hand whisk, whisk the yolks and sugar for a few minutes until the mixture has partially whitened and once the whisk is lifted, leaves a ribbon-like trail, known as ribbon-stage.
- Cut the soaked prunes in half, combine them with the melted chocolate, this will help to bring the temperature of the chocolate down, then mix this into the whisked egg yolk and sugar mixture.
- In another large bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks (use the electric hand whisk for this but ensure that it is clean and with no trace of water or yolks or your egg whites will not form soft peaks). Fold it into the egg and chocolate mixture.
- Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake it in the centre of the pre-heated (170°C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the centre feels springy to the touch. Allow the cake to cool in the tin (it will deflate quite a bit so don’t be alarmed). When it is completely cool, cover the tin in cling film and chill for several hours (it can be made and chilled 2 or 3 days ahead of serving). Take the cake out of the fridge a couple of hours before serving.
- Decorate the cake with the mixed berries placing them on top of the cake in a haphazard but attractive sort of way. I like cutting most of the strawberries in half lengthways but keeping the green stems, they will go further this way and will look prettier too. Make sure the fruit is dry when decorating the cake or the icing sugar will melt and you will not get a dusting effect.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the cake with icing sugar using a fine sieve. Cut the cake into small slices, as it is very rich, and serve. This cake goes well with a scoop of green tea ice cream.