chocolate nemesis: the river cafe

by Sam on August 15, 2010

part cake part mousse

I think chocolate nemesis is the best possible name they could have given to this cake.  I’m not really sure what it is. Its part cake, part mousse but without a doubt, its 100% decadent, dark, delicious and totally irresistible.

I was pleased that I made it for a friends birthday and gave it away immediately, thus having the temptation removed from my house.  Its now his problem, and he has been nibbling away at it over the course of the last week.

He is a total choc-aholic so it was the perfect cake for him.

I stumbled on this recipe a while ago when I got an email from a friend of mine who lives in London.  It was more or less a one liner and said something like ‘ Chocolate nemesis from the River cafe – google it and make it, its spectacular’.

As it turns out I had one of the River Cafe pockets books: Puddings, cakes & ice creams, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, and therein lay the recipe: ‘Easy chocolate nemesis’.  I’m not sure if there is a more difficult version, but I was fascinated by this recipe that only contains 4 ingredients and a bit of water.

This is what you need to make this outstanding cake:

  • 340gms chocolate pieces or choc broken up – 70% dark couverture
  • 225gm unsalted butter
  • 5eggs
  • 210gm caster sugar

This is how you make it and don’t worry if any of it sounds odd or unfamiliar, it will work out.

  • Preheat the oven to 120 degrees c (yes it seems very low)
  • butter and line a 23 – 25 cm cake tin with baking paper (if you are using a spring form cake tin, wrap some foil around the cake tin so as to prevent any water leaking in)
  • melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or a bowl which is set over some boiling water, but don’t over heat and don’t allow the bowl to touch the hot water and remove from heat as soon as the chocolate is almost all melted. Then stir off the heat until its all melted (a good quality chocolate will melt easily and quickly as I learned on the Lindt petit gateaux course)
  • beat the eggs and 70gms of the sugar with an electric mixer until the volume expands to roughly 4 times
  • Heat the remaining 140gms of sugar with 100ml of water until dissolved and allow it to boil for about 1 -2 minutes (it will be a light syrup)
  • Pour this syrup into the chocolate and butter mixture and allow to cool a little bit
  • Pour the chocolate into the egg mixture and mix through until all combined and then pour into the baking tin
  • Put a folded tea towel into the bottom of a deep sided oven dish and place the cake on this (top tip which prevents the cake from slipping)
  • Pour hot water in to the pan so that it comes 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pan (I used mainly boiling water but also added tap water to bring the temp down from boiling to hot)
  • bake for 50 minutes until set and allow the cake to cool in the pan of water before removing and turning out

The texture of this cake is silky and smooth and feels like baked chocolate mousse.  I didn’t think it required any icing, so I finished it off with a dusting of cocoa powder and a few light shavings of white chocolate.

You could top with fresh strawberries or raspberries and serve with cream which would break the intensity slightly.

Thanks Nic’s for bringing it to my attention, I think this is one of the most delicious cakes I have ever made.

chocolate nemesis – which it totally is

its a show stopper of a dessert

Leave a Comment

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Marisa August 16, 2010 at 9:57 am

That looks sinful! Can I have it for my next birthday? But don’t tell anyone, because I think I’m going to need to devour the entire thing all by myself.

nina August 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Bitter, dark and mysterious…just how I like a chocolate cake! Yum!

Claudia August 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Looks absolutely gorgeous! Your recipe seems to be some kind of a halfed recipe. The original recipe in the first River Café Cookbook calls for 675 gms of chocolate, an equal amount of castor sugar and 10 eggs.
The recipe was always said to be a desaster. When people tried it after the book was published it was a huge failure for most people. Even professional cooks – hired by newspapers – couldn’t make it work. Maybe too much sugar in the original recipe?

Dorz August 25, 2010 at 9:33 am

have made this many times and it always is AWESOME and knocks the socks off everyone!

Brilynn September 11, 2010 at 4:30 am

This cake looks gorgeous and with only 4 ingredients, there’s really no excuse not to make it…

Debby September 11, 2010 at 8:42 am

I’m an absolute FAn of chocolate and this looks like a good recipe

joudie's Mood Food September 11, 2010 at 11:15 am

This is definitely something i can see myself eating. The whole thing on my own. It looks so decadent and rich. I am going to make this for my 1 year anniversary in a couple of weeks. My huband will love it.

Lisa September 15, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Hi

I cooked the original reciepe for the original book and it was tara a complete flop. Arogant at cooking as I am I automatically figured out the recipe was wrong or missing a bit, so I went into a borders book shop and thumbed through the River Cafe made easy which has the full cooking instructions.

What was missing from the original was half the cooking instructions, once the baking tins had been placed in the oven in a ban marie and cooked for an hour, turn the oven off, and leave until the water is totally cold…. which takes another 3 hours or so. Vola, perfect nemisis. I can’t eat it myself, too rich and too chocolaty, but everyone else raves about it. :)

drizzleanddip September 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Hi Lisa
Yes interesting re the missing instructions, you are not the first person to mention that it flopped on them too. I cooled in the water out the oven – and it turned out perfectly and firm.
I also found it very intense and certainly could only handle the smallest slice (at a time)
sam

Colleen January 31, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Hi Sam, I was looking for something else entirely when I found this recipe on your blog. I had saved the recipe years ago with the intention of baking it and then read so many reports of it failing that I decided not to do it. But my desire to bake it has once again reared its head. So I’ve been doing some investigating. I have found 2 conflicting recipes online. The one goes like this:
675g dark chocolate 70%, broken into small pieces
450g unsalted butter, softened
10 whole eggs
675g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Line a 30 x 5 cm cake tin with greaseproof paper, then grease and flour it.

Beat together the eggs with a third of the sugar with an electric mixer for 5-10 minutes until they’ve quadrupled in volume.

Heat the remaining sugar in a small pan with 250ml water until the sugar completely dissolves into a syrup. Place the chocolate and butter in the hot syrup and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add the warm syrup to the eggs and continue to beat, gently, for around 20 secs until combined. Pour into the cake tin and place in a roasting tin. It is essential, if the cake is to cook evenly, that the water comes to the rim of the tin.

Cook in the preheated oven for 55 minutes or until set. Test by placing the flat of your hand gently on the surface. Serve with crème fraiche and raspberries

And then there is the one that has your ingredients above with the sugar syrup method. Fascinating that both are supposed to be the river cafe recipe. Now Im wondering which one to use hehe…decisions decisions. BUT I do know that the chocolate gremlin inside must be placated so best I get to baking it :)

drizzleanddip February 1, 2011 at 8:28 am

Colleen, I to uncovered the whole debate around the failed recipe and if you read the comments thread to my post you will see the feedback. The recipe I used is the ‘easy’ chocolate nemesis from the river cafe dessert pocket book and if you follw the instructions exactly as I did it turned out beautifully. There was a print error in one of the books. Personally I am all for slightly easier methods. So do as I did and you should be ok. good luck and let me know how it goes. Its possibly one of the most spectacular cakes I have ever eaten
s xx

Colleen April 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

Hi Sam, just read your comment above as I popped in for your easy nemesis recipe. The time has come….the chocolate gremlin is screaming. It’s my birthday tomorrow, I’ve got all the ingredients to hand and I’ve put my apron on and am heading off to the kitchen. Wish me luck :) xx

Debbie June 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hi… Is there a good site for metric conversions? In the states we need the change to try this. Sounds really good but not sure how to change. Thanks for the help.

Sam June 17, 2011 at 10:26 am

Hi Debbie. You could try: http://www.onlineconversion.com/ or any of the other conversion sites on line.
Good luck!

Eerke Boiten May 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Did one today, recipe book said “spring tin” but failed to include the tin foil instruction. I foolishly assumed that a new spring tin would be OK by not a lot of water leaking in. A chocolate swamp indeed. Let’s see if it tastes OK tomorrow …

Steph November 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Thanks for the recipe! I tried it for the first time yesterday and it was pretty successful! delicious – definitely!

The only problem was that when I turned it out of the cake tin, it sank a little and the sides cracked a bit, but the cake still held up and was v decadent! I’ll be making it again! The cake actually rose quite a lot when it was in the oven, then it sank whilst it was cooling in the bain.

Sam November 12, 2013 at 6:32 am

Hi Steph, it really is an odd cake, mine also dipped a bit at the end. It is essentially a baked chocolate mousse of sorts.

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