Fancy Shmancy Almond Chocolate Cake

A couple years ago, there was a revolution in our family.

It pretty much started and ended around birthday cakes. Maybe the word revolution is a bit much but essentially, my sister and I have made every attempt going forward to make all the birthday cakes ... as opposed to buying them. Not only are they baked but they are decorated with a theme appropriate for the birthday celebrant. 

I'm not really allowed to decorate the cakes. I lack a certain artistic talent that only my sister processes. I am however allowed to participate in the cake making... and we only make vanilla cakes. Or Red Velvet. Unless it is my Mom's birthday ... in which case she can have chocolate.

I'm just not a lover of chocolate cake. That being said, if you want to make a chocolate cake.... I will eat it. Especially if I get to wear leggings when I do it. Or we are curled up on my couch. 

So, it was a bit of a surprise that I picked this recipe out of a few to commemorate Edith's "alleged" wedding cake. It just didn't seem right to celebrate a wedding with a meringue. We can work on that for episode 3. I doubt Edith manages to snag a hubs this season ... she'll be all sorts of pouty and sour for the next 4-5 episodes.

I was drawn to this cake pretty much because it called for almonds. Almonds are secretly an amazing ingredient. My friend Ria used to make me these killer smoothies when we were in grad school with smoothies. I still think about those suckers. More recently, I've used almonds in Spanish Chicken Stew and  dreamed about using them as an appetizer with some cheese and honey. (I know. That sounds amazing right?)
BUT, this cake... is great. It works well as a single layer cake (i.e. perfect for ramekins and single servings) but would also be good as a more traditional layered cake. The almond provides a great texture ... and the frosting is so light and thin that you are actually really eating cake as opposed to frosting and cake.

It's even worth overcoming my fear of whipped egg whites.

Here's how it comes together.

(Step 1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 8" cake pan.

(Step 2) Set the chocolate and instant espresso or coffee in a double boiler with almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe.
(Step 3) Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time until well blended. Save those egg whites!
(Step 4) Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed.

(Step 5) With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture. Then stir in the almonds, and almond extract.
(Step 6) Immediately stir in 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to lighten up the batter. If you know me at all, you know how anxious this made me.
(Step 7) Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites. When partially blended, sift in one third of the flour and continue folding.

(Step 8) Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all the egg whites and flour are incorporated.
(Step 9) Pour the batter equally into your cookware. I went with three ramekins. It was a solid decision.
(Step 10) Bake at 375 F for 20-30 minutes depending on what size container you went with. Cake is done when it has puffed and 2- 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into the area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken and a needle comes out oily.

For the Icing:
(Step 1). Place the chocolate, espresso and coffee in the small bowl and set over a pot of almost simmering water. If you don't have espresso just use all coffee... no biggie. I think the espresso adds a richer flavor but nothing critical. It's not like the fried shallots from the deviled eggs. 

(Step 2) Let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth. 

(Step 3) Lift chocolate bowl out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency. 
(Step 4) At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife, and press a design of almonds over the icing.

I mean. Let's be real. That looks pretty great right? 

And by great, I mean... overlook the picture quality and think about putting that in your mouth. 

Adapted from this cake recipe and this frosting recipe

Shopping List
For the cake
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbsp Dried Espresso
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup pulverized almonds
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup cake flour, scooped and leveled

For the icing
2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
2 Tb coffee
5 to 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 comment

  1. This cake looks AMAZING. Since I'm watching season 3 right now, I skimmed the post because I think you're ahead of me and it made me nervous that I was going to stumble on secrets. I'm going to have to make this beautiful cake- and I LOVE the small portions. Nice work.

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