Paris. The tenth arrondissement – foodies beware….The rue Faubourg Saint Denis holds a few off-beat treasures.  From Julhes with their cheeses, exotic mustards, gourmet deli and never ending wine tastings to the coffee bean man just up the street  (Brulerie Lanni) and his giant roasting machine passing by the Passage Brady and the Kurdish sandwiches, you could spend hours here snacking and discovering.

On a recent wander hunting cardamom pods and other random pantry staples, I picked up some lemon grass powder in the Passage Brady.  A key ingredient of Thai, Malay, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine this pale green grassy  powder has a long history and is potent, lemony, sweet and tart in your nose.

Here’s a basic flour-less chocolate cake with a playful side. Use agave instead of sugar for a more healthful cake and a different kind of sweetness.


The basil plant on the window-sill is inviting, demanding to be added to everything. I figure a solid chocolate cake can be played with, dark chocolate can always take a little flavouring. I recently had sesame chocolate and Darjeeling tea flavoured chocolate. Amazing. Especially the sesame. To be exploited in an upcoming dessert recipe – tea, dark chocolate and sesame…

Flourless chocolate cake with lemongrass and fresh basil


125 gr good quality dark chocolate
100 gr unsalted butter and some for greasing
half teaspoon salt
150 gr sugar – or 1 cup agave syrup
1 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
3 eggs50gr cocoa powder
1 generous  teaspoon of ground lemon grass powder (available in good spice stores or Asian good stores)



Pre heat the oven to 180 c. Line and grease a cake tin. (about 8 inches – not too big or you’ll have a rather flat cake!)

Melt the chocolate and the butter over hot water stirring constantly until smooth. Add the salt and set aside.

Beat the diced basil into the sugar and add this to the chocolate mixture.  Add the eggs one at a time mixing constantly.  Then  fold in the cocoa powder slowly mixing until smooth. Stir in the teaspoon of lemon grass powder at the end.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 20 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool. Serve warm with a sprig of fresh basil.