Chocolate and cognac cake

This cake is so moreish and an elegant, indulgent way to finish a great meal. Just add a dollop of whipped cream.
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Serves 10-12

* 400g good-quality dark chocolate (min 53% cocoa solids), broken up
* 6 free-range eggs, separated
* 150g caster sugar
* 100ml good quality cognac
* 300ml thin (pouring/whipping) cream
* unsweetened cocoa powder or icing sugar to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 170C (325F/Gas3). Cut a piece of baking paper to fit a 20cm (8 inch) round cake tin, with a double layer for the side and a single layer for the base. Spray the tin with cooking oil and fit the baking paper snugly. Don’t use a springform tin here - it needs to be solid. 

2. Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of hot water ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Don’t let the water boil, as you can scald the chocolate. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let it return to room temperature.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 100g of the caster sugar until pale and creamy. Add the cognac and continue to beat until well combined. Add the chocolate and stir until completely incorporated, then slowly stir in half the cream. Set aside.

4. Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form. Set aside. Whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl until soft peaks form, then slowly add the remaining caster sugar and whisk until very firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the egg whites.

5. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, place the tin in a deep roasting tin and add enough hot water to come an inch up the side of the tin. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 150C (300F/Gas 2) and bake for another 45 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. It will rise like a souffle - since that’s really what it is - and will fall and set slowly in the oven as it cools, so don’t be tempted to take it out too soon.

6. Run a knife around the inside edge of the tin and turn it onto a plate or a board - the cake should slide out easily but be extremely careful as the cake is so soft and fragile. Sprinkle with cocoa powder or icing sugar. To slice the cake, use a knife dipped in hot water and clean the knife after each cut. You will only want a slither per person as this cake is so rich. 

This cake will last for 3 days covered, at room temperature. Don’t refridgerate it as it will set like a brick.

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Easy Weekends by Neil Perry (Murdoch Books £18.99). Photography: Earl Carter

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