Saturday, December 31, 2005

Recipe Blogging: Chocolate Nemesis

My wife found this one in this month’s issue (December, ‘05) of Good Housekeeping.  It’s quite easy to make, and it is simply an amazing cake to eat.

Chocolate Nemesis Cake

  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar, divided!
  • 1 Lb. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (See Notes)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut up
  • 7 large eggs, at room temperature
  • softly whipped cream or creme fraiche (See Notes)
  • fresh raspberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease bottom and sides of 9–inch springform pan.  Line bottom of pan with parchment paper (See Notes).  Dust side of pan with flour.  Set pan on sheet of heavy-duty foil and wrap foil up the sides of pan to prevent water from leaking in during baking.  (You may need to double-seam fold two sheets together to make a very wide piece of foil — you want the foil at least halfway up the sides of the springform.)

In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, disolve 1/2 c. sugar in the water, stirring occasionally.  Add chocolate and butter, stir until completely melted and mixed.  Remove pan from heat and cool chocolate 15 – 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat eggs wtih remaining 1/2 c. sugar at high speed until mixture thickens and roughly triples in volume, about 6 – 8 minutes.  Using a wire whisk, gently fold in the melted chocolate mixture, completely blending in.  Take care to not deflate the whipped eggs.  (See note)

Pour batter into springform pan and set inside a large roasting pan.  Set an oven rack at the middle height in the oven and place the roasting pan on the rack.  Pour enough boiling water in the roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the springform pan.  (I angle a large pot lid over the springform to protect the cake from splashes or bad aim.  School of hard knocks there, folks.)

Bake the cake for 25 – 35 minutes until the edges just begin to set and a thin crust forms on the top.  Carefully remove the springform from the water bath and let cool on a rack.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

About 30 minutes before serving, remove from refrigerator, run a knife around the edges to loosen the pan, then remove the foil and side of springform.  Invert on a plate, remove the parchment paper and turn cake right side up on a serving plate.


  • Use pre-cut parchment paper circles if you’ve got ‘em.  If not, start with a square (more or less) sheet of parchment and fold it in half.  Now fold it in half along the seam.  Fold the paper over the closed corner several times until you’ve got a narrow wedge.  Set the tip of the wedge in the center of the pan and cut it with scissors at the edge of the pan.  Unfold it and Poof! you’ve got a more-or-less circle which should fit right inside the pan.  Thank Jacques Pepin for this cool trick!
  • I used the best quality chocolate I could get my hands on easily — Ghirardelli.  It’s nothing extraordinary, and I’m looking forward to trying this cake again with Valhrona or some other really special chocolate.
  • Folding with a whisk is really fairly easy and it’s nothing to get wigged out about.  Pour the chocolate into the eggs in small batches and use the whisk to lift the mixture from the bottom of the bowl up through the middle.  You’re not using the whisk to beat the eggs, you’re using it to gently raise the heavier chocolate which has sunk to the bottom of the pan and distribute it through the rest of the mix.  It sounds a lot more complex than it really is.  Folding seems to have an undeserved mystique around it.  Just do it.
  • I didn’t do it on when cooking this cake, but I think a trick from my cheesecake baking would work really well here.  I remove my cheesecakes when they’re still very soft in the center.  I put the pan on a cooling rack, then invert a large bowl over the top of the rack and cover that bowl with several layers of towels.  The residual heat in the cake will finish off the cooking in a very, very gentile fashion.  For cheesecakes this helps mitigate the nasty cracks which form when a cake is overcooked or cooled too rapidly.  It also helps keep the creamy, beautiful texture in the cake.  I will try this same trick with this Nemesis cake the next time and I expect some good results!
  • Creme fraiche would be a perfect foil to this very rich, heavy cake.  Unfortunately creme fraiche is tough to find in this corner of Dayton.  We made due with Cool Whip.  Philistines R Us.


Lynne in MD said...

Thanks! I just made this cake from a page torn out of my GH magazine and served it last night. Got raves and recipe request so I was hoping to find it already typed in somewhere!

Thanks for doing it for me!!!

Cool-Whip??? You are right, quelle Philistine! (Only kidding!) I used real cream - BUT - I did use good ol' Baker's chocolate or something similar - I don't think you really need the classy stuff!

You were smart to put "divided" in, for the sugar. I messed up, got confused, used 1/2 cup sugar and ONE CUP water! I just baked the cake 5 minutes longer and it was fine! I DID add the other 1/2 cup sugar to the eggs.)



Barbara Northrup said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I used the Good Housekeeping recipe over Thanksgiving and loved it. Today I went to recover it from my "Master Cook" file and it wasn't there. I did a search on Good Housekeeping and couldn't find it. You are a life saver!

Jim Holmes said...

You're both welcome! We're here to please, or at least make a marginal or token effort at doing so.

Helen said...

I had this cake out in a pub and searched the net for a recipe.
Came across your site, thought you might like to know cake was served with Lime Creme fraiche ice cream which is a match made in heaven for this cake. Had to devise my own recipe for this as could'nt find one. just whipped some double cream added the creme fraiche and the juice and zest of 2 limes and honey to sweeten , mix well and freeze.
Try it it works well !
Helen In the UK

Kevin said...

I found this recipe on a very old cook book and tried it today. It seemed very easy, but when I cut it, pff, it went like mousse, lol... I wonder what went wrong. I beat the eggs on medium speed and didn't get them to quadruple in volume as suggested on the book, maybe it was that. I left the chocolate mixture to completely cool down before mixing it with the eggs, whereas I've just read it should be slightly warm. Although the taste was absolutely gorgeous (I work at an organic restaurant, so ingredients couldn't be any better), so I had it as mousse, lol. Will try it again tomorrow : ) Wish me luck!

Barbara said...

I've been making this cake for years and love it -- it's completely decadent and very easy. If you really want to intensify the chocolate flavor (and cover up any cracks, unevenness, etc.), cool the cake to room temperature, and while it's still in the pan, top it with bittersweet chocolate ganache (pour 8 ounces heavy cream over 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate, stir until blended). Wait until chocolate is completely set before removing sides of pan. Looks and tastes gorgous!

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