My Kitchen From Scratch

Chocolate Nemesis | The River Café (London)

Posted on: December 30, 2010

Chocolate Nemesis | The River Café (London)

There are very few things in life that you can actually describe as a legend. When something is legendary, it’s unmovable and almost impossible to surpass. In other words, it’s simply the one and only. The Chocolate Nemesis from The River Café in London is one such example.

This restaurant was said to single-handedly transformed the Italian restaurant scene in London in the 1990s. Co-owners Ruthie Rogers and Rose Gray, both self-taught cooks, opened The River Café in 1987 because Ruth’s husband, Lord Rogers who is an architect complained that there were no good places to eat where his architectural firm is at. So the restaurant originally served as a canteen for the workers at the firm. But it also serves as a creative playground for Ruth and Rose, whose daily-changing menus were awarded a Michelin star.

Chocolate Nemesis | The River Café (London) Chocolate Nemesis | The River Café (London) Chocolate Nemesis | The River Café (London)

Enough about the restaurant that I have never been to. Let’s talk cake. Oh wait, it would be inaccurate to call this a cake – not in the traditional sense at least. Let look at the ingredients, shall we? Chocolate, butter, sugar, and eggs. That’s it. So, that qualifies it as a flourless chocolate cake, no? Not at all. The taste is unlike anything I have had. It’s super dense with chocolate, yet it’s not heavy. It has the airiness of a mousse but not delicate like one. A bite of it sends you right to the ultimate chocolate bliss. Just look at the pictures and see how irresistible the nemesis is!

It’s so good, everyone at the table agreed that any sort of icing will ruin the nemesis. I dusted mine lightly with cocoa powder for an elegant touch but truly and honestly, the Chocolate Nemesis needs nothing of any sort to be enjoyed. It’ called Chocolate Nemesis for a reason. It’s famously difficult to make for home cooks despite its four ingredients. It is also your worst enemy if you are on a diet. Last but not least, it changes the way you see chocolate “cakes.” It is hands down, the best chocolate dessert I have ever had in my life – perfect for my last post for year 2010.

Ingredients (serves 20):

  • 675g good quality 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate, broken into small chunks
  • 10 large eggs
  • 575g sugar
  • 450g unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 300F/150C and start boiling some hot water to fill a roasting pan later.
  2. Line a 30cm cake tin with parchment paper and then butter and coat it with a touch of flour.
  3. In a double boiler, slowly melt chocolate chunks and butter. Mix well to combine.
  4. In a separate pot, make a sugar syrup with two-thirds of the sugar and 250ml of water. Turn off the heat when the sugar dissolves.
  5. Pour sugar syrup into the melted chocolate and mix well. Remove from double boiler and let it cool a bit while you work on the eggs.
  6. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with the remaining sugar until it triples in volume.
  7. Add eggs to the melted chocolate and whisk gently until just combined.
  8. Pour mixture into the lined cake tin.
  9. In a roasting pan, put a tea towel in the middle and place the cake tin on it. Fill the roasting pan with hot water up to the rim of the cake tin.
  10. Bake in the oven for 60-70 minutes or until the middle is just set.
  11. Let it cool completely in the tin. Loosen the edges around the tin. Put a plate over the tin and turn it upside down. Give it a few soft knocks on the tin with the knife handle until it slides off to the plate. You may cool it further in the fridge and dust it with cocoa powder on the top right before serving. The nemesis should look like an intensely rich and set mousse.

(recipe adapated from “Chocolate Nemesis” by Ruthie Rogers & Rose Gray, Jamie Magazine, Issue 10 – June ’10)

Final Notes:

  1. I used a slightly deeper 25 cm tin and the chocolate mixture fills up right to the rim.
  2. I don’t have a roasting pan so I used a shallow baking tray and fill up with as much hot water as I can. It turned out fine.
  3. Use good quality dark chocolate for this because chances are, you will only make this once in many months. I used Callebaut for my nemesis.
  4. You should be able to divide the nemesis into twenty slices. The slices won’t be huge but honestly, with something this intense, you do not need much to satisfy your chocolate craving.
  5. The nemesis was wobbling a little after 90 minutes. So I baked for an extra 10 minutes to let it set.

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8 Responses to "Chocolate Nemesis | The River Café (London)"

lovely blog. thanks for visiting my blog – lily’s wai sek hong

I found your site when searching for the recipe for Jamie Oliver’s custard, and then I found this chocolaty goodness. Wow wow wow, this looks amazing…..and soo rich! Yum

Thanks! I’m bookmarking this recipe as well!

Thanks for stopping by Debbie! You have to try the nemesis because it is so good.

It’s funny — my husband had a dessert called Chocolate Nemesis in Sao Paolo and he thought something was lost in translation. I’ll have to tell him it about the famous dessert in London! This looks divine — I think I may have to make it for his birthday.

hi I wanted to make this cake and googled it, to find many recipes. your cake seems the “moistest” :) and just like I want it to look. but I do have a question – you use more water in your sugar syrup (most use half a cup of water.) since there are 2 recipes for this cake (one based on 10 eggs and the other cut in half with 5 eggs.)
basically i wanted to make sure you actually used 250 CC of water and not less. thanks,

I just put mine nemesis in the oven,can’t wait… I’ll let you know ;-)

So … how was it? Did you like it??

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