This is a cake which I love to make when we have guests over, and this extra-chocolatey version is a favourite at Easter.
The recipe is based on the Chocolate Cloud Cake from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Bites which has the inclusion of Cointreau for a liqueur kick and is simply decorated with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. But Nigella also offers an Easter version in her book, Feast, a child-friendly version whereby the alcohol is replaced with vanilla, the cake is swathed in a decadent chocolate cream, and this elegant concoction is then adorned with pastel-coloured, sugar-coated chocolate Easter eggs.
Whether you are making the original or Easter version, this is the perfect cake to make for anyone who has a gluten intolerance as it does not contain any flour. The absence of flour also guarantees that the cake will be tender and moist within, rich with chocolate flavour. The chocolate intensity of the cake depends much on the type of chocolate that you use. Nigella specifies using “best quality dark chocolate” which I interpret as meaning chocolate with minimum 70% cocoa solids, but I think 60% and upwards is fine (I used 68%). The dark chocolate might not sound kid-friendly but there is also sugar in the batter to sweeten things a bit.
This cake also happens to be perfect for entertaining as it can be made the night before serving, remaining moist and even improving during this time. The cream can be whipped in advance and kept in the fridge and spread onto the cake just before serving, but as this is a relatively quick and easy task, I often do this in the moments before serving.
When making the chocolate cream, make sure that the melted chocolate has not cooled too much, otherwise it will seize upon making contact with the cream and will not incorporate properly. The time taken to whip the cream just after you have removed the melted chocolate from the heat should be sufficient.
And owing to the cream topping, you should keep any leftover cake in the fridge.
If you can’t find sugar-coated Easter eggs where you live (I used Cadbury’s brand which I picked up on a recent work trip to the US), some raspberries or chopped strawberries would look just as welcoming. Be prepared for second helpings.
Easter Nest Cake
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
For the cake
- 8 oz (250 g) dark chocolate
- 4 oz (125 g) unsalted butter
- 6 eggs, separated
- 6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping
- 4 oz (125 g) dark chocolate
- 1 cup (250 ml) double cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 oz (300 g) packet of sugar-coated chocolate eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Line the bottom of a 9 inch (23 cm) springform cake tin with baking paper, but do not grease the sides of the tin.
- Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bain-marie (or a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water). Set aside to cool slightly.
- Whisk 4 egg whites (keep the eggs yolks for later) until firm, then gradually add 3.5 oz (100 g) of sugar and whisk until the egg whites are glossy and have firm peaks.
- In a separate bowl, whisk 2 whole eggs with the reserved egg yolks, together with the remaining 2.5 oz (75 g) caster sugar.
- Fold in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate.
- Add a spoonful of the whisked egg white mixture and mix briskly. Then fold in the remaining egg white mixture, about one-third at a time.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is no longer wobbly in the centre.
- Leave the cake to cook on a wire rack.
- To make the topping, melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (or a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water). While the chocolate is cooling, whip the cream until it is firm but not stiff – it should be soft enough to spread. Fold in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate.
- Cover the cake with the chocolate cream and decorate with the chocolate eggs.
I often make the cake the night before serving and leave it on the counter overnight. The cake will sink in the middle and crack as it cools.
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