This is the recipe for the famous chocolate Nemesis cake from The River Cafe in London. It is a legend in its own right and one of the best cakes you will ever make. This cake is perfect as a dessert to end a meal and everyone will love it. With only four ingredients, this showstopper of a dessert can be served simply with whipped cream or creme fraiche.
I think chocolate nemesis is the best possible name they could have given to this cake. I’m not really sure what it is. It’s part cake, part mousse but without a doubt, it’s 100% decadent, dark, delicious and totally irresistible.
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, it’s 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.
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 it with fresh strawberries or raspberries and serve it with cream which would break the intensity slightly. The River Cafe recommends a dollop of creme fraiche to break the sweetness.
What is a chocolate nemesis cake?
A chocolate nemesis cake is a rich and decadent chocolate cake that is characterized by its dense, fudgy texture and intense chocolate flavour. It is typically made with high-quality dark chocolate, sugar, butter, eggs, and a small amount of flour (or not). Some recipes may also include ground almonds or other nuts to add texture and flavour.
The cake is often served with a dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkle of powdered sugar, and it pairs well with coffee or a glass of red wine.
Why is it called chocolate nemesis?
The name “nemesis” is said to refer to the cake’s ability to be both irresistible and challenging to make perfectly, as it can be difficult to get the texture just right. The chocolate nemesis cake is a popular dessert in many high-end restaurants (made famous by The River Café in London) and is also a favourite among chocolate lovers.
Back in the day, there was controversy around the original chocolate nemesis recipe which was apparently printed in error in The River Café’s first cookbook ‘The River Café Cook Book’. I have 3 of their books so have researched this.
The original recipe has slightly different ratios and is double the volume (less chocolate and a lot more caster sugar). The method remains consistent though so one must assume there was something wrong with the quantities.
Here I have used the easy chocolate nemesis recipe from the ‘River Café Pocket Books – puddings, cakes and ice creams’ by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.
A few of my other chocolate recipes you might like:
Rum & raisin chocolate truffles (the best ever)
This is what you need to make this outstanding cake:
Chocolate nemesis: The River Cafe
- 350 gms chocolate broken into chunks- 70% dark couverture
- 225 gm salted butter the original recipe calls for unsalted but I like salted
- 5 large free-range eggs
- 210 gm caster sugar divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup
- Preheat the oven to 120 C / 248F.
- Butter and line a 23 - 25 cm cake tin with baking paper. If you are using a springform cake tin, wrap some foil around the cake tin so as to prevent any water from leaking in. It is better not to use a springform tin here.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or a bowl which is set over some boiling water. Do not allow the bowl to touch the hot water and remove it from heat as soon as the chocolate is almost all melted. Then stir off the heat until it is all melted. Good quality chocolate will melt easily and quickly.
- Beat the eggs and 70 grams of the sugar with an electric mixer until the volume expands to roughly 4 times.
- Heat the remaining 140 gms of sugar with 100 ml 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 it to cool a little.
- 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 (this will prevent the cake from slipping).
- Pour hot water into 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 too hot).
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until set. The cake will be ready when it just starts pulling away from the sides of the tin. Allow the cake to cool in the pan of water before removing and turning it out.