Wicked Bitter Chocolate Cake with Real Ale Ice Cream
This wicked chocolate cake is dark, gooey and rich, and utterly delicious! The real ale ice cream is a perfect accompaniment as the natural bitterness of the ale cuts through the richness of the chocolate, but at the same time provides the sumptuous creamy richness you would expect. I prefer to use dark chocolate with 75% cocoa solids for the flavour, as any lower percentage chocolate will make the cake taste sweeter.
For the real ale ice cream, you can use any local ale of your choice and preference. I have selected Woodforde’s Wherry real ale, an East Anglian ale from Norfolk, for its fruity character. It is slightly floral and less hopsy in taste and that tones the bitterness down.
In the summer, I substitute the real ale ice cream for cherry ice cream and serve cherries marinated in red wine syrup with it. It’s a classic but reliable and truly delicious combination.
For the real ale ice cream
- 568ml (1 pint) real ale (such as Woodforde’s Wherry)
- 568ml (1 pint) double cream
- 250g caster sugar
- 12 egg yolks
For the wicked chocolate cake
- 250g unsalted butter
- 300g soft dark brown sugar
- 80ml cold water
- 250g dark chocolate (75% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
- 6 eggs, separated
- 25ml whisky (optional)
- a pinch of salt
- bitter cocoa powder, for dusting
First, make the ice cream. Rinse a saucepan with cold water, then pour the ale and cream into the pan and bring gently to the boil over a low heat. Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat.
In a bowl, whisk the caster sugar and egg yolks together, then add a ladleful of the warm cream mixture and stir until combined. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining warm cream mixture in the pan, return to a low heat and stir continuously for 8–10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon; do not allow the mixture to boil, otherwise it may curdle. Remove from the heat, pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and then leave it to cool over ice.
Pour the cold mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn until frozen (following the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular model). Alternatively, pour the cold mixture into a shallow, freezer proof container, cover with a lid and freeze until firm, whisking the mixture 3 or 4 times during freezing (every hour or so) to break down the ice crystals and ensure an even-textured result. Keep the ice cream frozen until needed. The ice cream can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept in the freezer. Allow the ice cream to soften slightly at room temperature or in the fridge before serving.
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6. Grease and line a 28 x 18cm loose-bottomed oblong cake frame or tin with non-stick baking paper and set aside. Put the butter, brown sugar and water into a saucepan and heat together over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the ingredients are melted and combined, bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted, then add the egg yolks, the whisky, if using, and the salt and stir until the mixture is smooth and combined.
Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks (do not over whip), then using a large slotted spoon, fold the whisked whites into the chocolate mixture until evenly combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake frame or tin and spread evenly.
Bake in the oven for 22–24 minutes or until the cake is cooked, but the centre is still gooey with a slight wobble. The cake will rise (soufflé) slightly during baking, but it will sink back down and firm up once it has cooled. Remove from the oven and leave the cake in the cake frame or tin to cool and set for about 1 hour before serving.
Once you are ready to serve, carefully remove the cake from the frame or tin. Heavily dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder and then cut it into 10 slices. Serve warm (or cold) with the ice cream.
Any leftover ice cream will keep in an airtight, freezer proof container in the freezer for up to 1 week. Serve with chocolate sauce drizzled over.