Chocolate Souffle Cake with Armagnac Prunes and Crème Fraiche Sauce
This is quite simply my own favourite chocolate dessert of all time. It’s dark, very moist, and the prunes soaked in Armagnac make it a very grown-up chocolate experience. I used to call it Sunken Chocolate Cake but sometimes it doesn’t sink! Either way it’s glorious.
You need to begin this the night before.
Although the prunes are no-soak we are still going to soak them so they can absorb all the wonderful flavour of Armagnac. Place them in a saucepan with 150ml of water and just bring it up to a gentle simmer.
Then remove from the heat, pour everything into a bowl, add the Armagnac, leave it to cool, then cover and chill overnight.
When you are ready to make the cake, pre-heat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3.
Then break the chocolate into squares in a bowl, add the butter and sit the bowl over a saucepan containing about 5cm of barely simmering water (be careful that the bowl doesn’t
touch the water).
This should take about 10 minutes to become melted, smooth and glossy.
Then take the bowl off the heat, stir in the Armagnac and leave it to get cool.
Now you are going to need a large roomy bowl. In it whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar using an electric hand whisk for about 5 or 6 minutes, so that when you lift the whisk the mixture falls down making ribbon-like trails.
Now take 18 of the pre-soaked prunes, halve them and stir the halves into the whisked egg mixture and follow that by adding the melted chocolate. Then give everything a good stir.
Now the whisk should be washed with hot soapy water and dried thoroughly to remove any traces of grease. The egg whites need to go into another large bowl and be whisked until they form soft peaks.
After that, using a large metal spoon, fold them gently and carefully into the chocolate mixture.
Then, using the same spoon, transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake the cake on the centre shelf of the oven for about 30 minutes or until it’s very puffy and the centre feels springy.
When it’s cooked allow it to cool in the tin and not to worry if it sinks a bit! When it’s absolutely cold remove it from the tin, peel off the lining, then cover with clingfilm, place in the fridge and allow it to chill for several hours.
Finally, make the sauce. Simply liquidise the prunes reserved from above together with their liquid. Place the purée in a serving bowl and lightly stir in the crème fraiche to give a slight marbled effect.
When you are ready to serve the cake, dust the surface with icing sugar or cocoa (or a bit of each) and serve cut in slices with the sauce handed round separately.
Note: if you want to make this in advance the cake and the sauce can be frozen.