This rich, chocolate cake is my slightly modified version of the one found in Elizabeth David’s exquisite book, French Provincial Cooking.

There is something quintessentially delightful about baking a chocolate cake, especially on a Friday afternoon. The scent that spreads through the house is like a warm, welcoming hug, and I just can’t think of a more perfect way to ring in the weekend. Of course, there are many types of chocolate cakes. Some are more of a fuss to make than others, and some are so good that no matter how much effort they require, they end up becoming firm favorites. Nigella Lawson’s ‘old-fashioned chocolate cake, for example, is a must on birthdays at our house, and both my flourless chocolate cake and rosemary chocolate mousse cake featured at La Douce Vie have been loved by many who have written in to thank me for the recipe. Something which makes me utterly happy!

This past Friday, I was inspired to try Elizabeth David’s gâteau au chocolat et aux amandes, a dense, flourless chocolate cake. It is one of the recipes that immediately caught my attention when I first read the book, yet one of those that had remained on my ‘must try’ list for way too long. As with most of David’s recipes, I feel that the cook should possess some level of skill before attempting this cake. I am not quite sure how well it would work if an absolute beginner followed the instructions to the letter. But truth be told — it isn’t so much the recipes that make David’s books extraordinary, but the food writing. Her words are authoritative and knowledgeable, and reading her is like taking a trip to France and discovering its culinary treasures.

I decided to slightly modify her recipe while still keeping the technique as close to the original as possible. And I must admit that for me, this was a totally different way to go about making the batter! Nevertheless, it turned out delicious. I served it with crème fraîche instead of the specified “lightly whipped and sweetened cream” — a better option in my opinion, as the cream’s slightly tart taste provided a nice contrast to the intense chocolate flavor of the cake.


Gâteau au chocolat et aux amandes

Serves 6

  • 150g good-quality, dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 tbsp brown rum
  • 1 tbsp espresso
  • 85g butter
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 3 eggs, split into yolks and whites


Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter and flour an 18cm springform. Melt the chocolate au bain-marie with the rum and espresso. Once the chocolate is half melted, add the butter. Stir until smooth and melted. Stir in the sugar and ground almonds while on the heat for an extra minute or so. You will have a thick, paste-like consistency and will notice that the mixture will come together. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk the yolks until pale but not too thick, and whisk the whites until stiff. Stir in the yolks and then carefully fold in the whites. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool completely before unmolding. Serve with crème fraîche.