Chocolate Nemesis Cake

I’d like this year to be the year I restarted running. After marathon plans fell through, my efforts tailed off last year due to a combination of lack of motivation, extensive travelling, and a lack of time.  Anyway, one of the best feelings after a long run is the knowledge that you can stretch out your aching muscles, and curl up to a thin sliver of chocolate luxury.


The River Cafe’s Chocolate Nemesis Cake is well-named. It is notorious for its difficulty, yet despite this, remains incredibly popular thanks to its reputation for being one of the Most Delicious Chocolate Cakes Ever. I thought it was about time I tried out a new challenge, and so this cake came into being.

It certainly lived up to its reputation. I found this cake rather complicated in its method.  It needs to be baked in a water-bath, and I have yet to acquire the skill of wrapping my cake tins so they don’t leak. There was a little water leakage onto the edges of the cake, not enough to affect the texture, but enough to make me think twice about baking this again. If anyone knows a foolproof way of wrapping cake tins so they are watertight, I would be delighted to know a good trick or two!

On first taste the Chocolate Nemesis was actually slightly disappointing – lightly moussey, which wasn’t what I was looking for. However, I went back to it a few hours later and was sold. It had settled into a very dense, almost fudge-like texture of chocolatey intensity.

I turned it out onto the cake stand upside down, but this is what it looks like once baked:


The image is pleasingly similar to the picture in the cookbook, but I am keen to know how it looks at the actual River Cafe restaurant.


Chocolate Nemesis Cake

Slightly adapted from River Cafe Cookbook Easy

  • 272g dark chocolate
  • 180g unsalted butter
  • 112g +56g caster sugar
  • 80ml water
  • 4 eggs

Grease and line a 23cm cake tin. Wrap around the tin securely with tin-foil. Preheat the oven to 120˚C.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bain-marie and set to one side. In a small saucepan, heat 56g caster sugar with the water so the sugar dissolves into a light syrup. Bring it just to the boil, and take off the heat. Pour the syrup into the chocolate, leave for 1 minute, and stir together. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool.

Whisk the eggs with 112g sugar until quadrupled in volume. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture, and beat on a very slow speed until it starts to come together. Finish mixing with a spatula.

Boil a large pan of water for the water bath. This probably works out better than having to boil the kettle three times in a row.

In a large roasting tin, fold a tea-towel and place it on the bottom. Place the cake tin on top of the tea towel. Then pour in the water until it comes three-quarters up the sides of the cake tin, and bake for around 50 minutes (it took 49 in my oven) until set. Leave the cake to cool in the water before turning it out of its tin. Leave it aside for a few hours to settle before serving.  Cut into thin slices with a hot sharp knife.


3 thoughts on “Chocolate Nemesis Cake

  1. I’ve had this cake at The River Café and it’s supposed to be somewhere between cake and mousse. They make them specifically to hit windows in service to ensure they’re not sitting around too long getting heavy. So, although you preferred it more dense, Nemesis is ‘authentically’ light If you’re in the neighbourhood, I recommend you try a slice, mainly to satisfy your own curiosity. But it’s not really worth the £10+ it’ll set you back. (Don’t feel you have to push the boat out either – I went towards the end of lunch and just ordered the cake.)

    There’s a video of them making the “Easy” version on YouTube, which might help.


    1. Great to know. I will give it a try should I ever eat at the River Cafe, I hear a lot of mixed reviews about the restaurant as a whole. Thanks for the video link – I was very interested to see the differences in how I made it based on the cookbook instructions, and also weirdly gratifying to see that even professional metal tins warp in the oven.


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