Jilly's Chocolate Cake

September 12, 2017

The name of this cake should be something along the lines of "most decadent and delicious chocolate cake you are ever likely to taste". But it is not, and since it is not my recipe, i'll stick with the original name.  The source of this recipe is, of course, the book i turn to for all my favourite baking recipes, 'A Treasury of New Zealand Baking'.  The recipe was contributed by Pete Gawron, who owns Saffron restaurant in Arrowtown; the recipe is named after their dessert chef.  I've never had the good luck to eat at Saffron, but i have heard first hand reports that the food and service are excellent.

The header notes state that because it is a flourless cake, it is essential that chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids is used.  I used Whittaker's 'Dark Ghana' chocolate with great success.  

In fact, not only does this cake not have flour, it doesn't have anything in place of flour that one would assume is essential in creating a cake.  This, of course, makes it perfect for people on a gluten-free diet, but it also means it can be tricky to get it just right.

I first made this cake about 18 months ago, when my husband's daughter came to visit.  She is gluten-free, and since i can't imagine not having baking to offer a visitor i thought i'd give this cake a whirl.  It turned out perfectly, and i, for one, was in cake/chocolate heaven.  

Last night i was hosting book club, and since there are a couple of gluten-free attendees i thought it was time to bake this cake a second time. There are plenty of gluten-free options in 'A Treasury', but i was also feeling the need for some serious chocolate in my life.

My second attempt was not as successful as the first; i think the first time i baked it in a 20cm tin, and this time i baked it in a 25cm tin.  It turns out that a little too small is preferable to a little too big in this case.  Also, i suspect i was slightly over-vigorous when folding the egg whites in, so my cake ended up a little flatter than ideal.  However i offered my guests 'chocolate brownie' instead of 'chocolate cake', and it was greatly enjoyed by all.  Only one of my visitors knew i had been baking a cake, and it still retained the silky deliciousness that i love.  Should you have a hankering for something chocolatey and decadent, i encourage you to try this recipe.  


Contributed by Pete Gawron, in 'A Treasury of New Zealand Baking'

Makes a 22cm round cake; serves about 12


250g good couverture chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

125g unsalted butter (i just use regular butter)

5 free-range eggs, separated

pinch of salt

125g caster sugar


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius. Line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter over a water bath. Do not let the bowl touch the water or let water splashinto the bowl as the chocolate will seize and crumble.  Stir as the chocolate starts to melt.

Wipe a bowl with a little lemon juice or vinegar, then add the egg whites. Beat with the salt and a third of the sugar until stiff peaks form.

In another bowl, beat the yolks with the rest of the sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow in colour and forms a very thick foam.  Add the yolk mix to the chocolate , then carefully fold in a third of the whites into this mixture, followed by the remaining whites. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 1 hour.

Allow the cake to settle by covering it with a lightly dampened cloth napkin as soon as it comes out of the oven. This traps the steam that rises from the cake, stopping a crisp crust forming. The top then has a very smooth texture.


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Hi There

I'm Marion! I love food and i love cooking using fresh, seasonal ingredients. I enjoy finding new ways to use ingredients from pantry and property, and i aim to provide you with as many delicious ways as possible to use your own produce from home and garden.

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