A French celebratory, gluten free chocolate and almond cake, made extra special with a hint of Grand Marnier and topped with a festive glaze.
Break the dark chocolate into bits in a bowl and place over a pan of simmering water (bain- marie). Ensure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl so not to overcook the chocolate. As soon as the chocolate melts, add the butter. Mix together until melted and set aside.
Separate the eggs: place the 4 egg whites in a large clean bowl to whip them later. In another bowl, place the 3 egg yolks and whisk together with the sugar until light and creamy. Add the cornflour, vanilla and stir in the ground almonds. Add in the melted chocolate, alcohol if using, and mix together. Set aside at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Grease a 20cm cake tin with butter.
Whisk the egg whites with the salt in either a stand mixer or using an electric hand whisk. When the whites are whipped up and firm, gently fold into the chocolate and almond mixture.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 20 minutes without browning the surface (a smaller, higher cake tin will need longer baking, about 30 minutes). Remove from the oven to cool.
Mix together the egg white with the icing sugar and Grand Marnier (or rum) if using.
Depending on the cake tin, there are 2 ways of baking the glaze:
1) Directly in an easy-release cake tin: once the cake is cooled down (but still warm), spread on the glaze and return to the oven for no more than 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool then turn out on a serving plate.
2) Remove the cake from the tin and place on an ovenproof serving plate. Spread on the glaze then return to the oven for no more than 5 minutes. Remove from the oven then decorate, if desired.
For special occasions such as Christmas, serve the cake topped with whipped cream laced with a dash of Grand Marnier® or rum or simply with a dollop of crème fraîche.