Chocolate Almond Cake

The ingredients are minimal for this dessert but the prep work is significant so make sure you keep that in mind.  But the results will be fantastic and the fact that it is easily a great gluten free option makes it that much more attractive for those gatherings!

Time:

2 hours

Serves:

10

Good for:

  • Luscious chocolate fix
  • Dessert with a great range of textures
  • Gluten free

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups slivered almonds
  • Handful fine dry breadcrumbs, matzo meal or gluten-free substitute (for dusting the pan)
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¾  cup sugar
  • 1 ½  sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 6 large eggs (separate yolks from whites)
  • 1/8 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn fresh lemon juice

For the Frosting:

  • ½  cup heavy cream
  • 2 tspn instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Kitchen things you’ll need:

  • Cookie sheet/baking tray
  • Parchment paper (instead of oil spray)
  • 9 x 3 inch spring form pan
  • Microwavable bowl (and microwave)
  • 2 Large bowls
  • Electric mixer
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • Metal spatula for frosting
  • Large knife or serrated knife

Making it:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C).
  • Put on the baking sheet some parchment paper.
  • Spread the almonds in a single layer on the prepared pan and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the almonds are lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.
  • Butter the bottom and sides of the spring form pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to fit. Butter the paper.
  • Dust the pan all over with the fine bread crumbs; rotate the pan several times to spread evenly, then invert over the sink and tap lightly to shake out any excess crumbs. Set the prepared pan aside.
  • Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until about 75% melted. Stir and let the ongoing heat melt the chocolate until completely smooth. Set aside until tepid.
  • Place the almonds and ¼ cup of sugar (reserve remaining ½ cup sugar) in a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground, stopping the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides.
  • You should process for about one minute total. The mixture will be a little pasty but should not be the consistency of a nut butter. Set aside the ground nuts.
  • In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and beat to mix.
  • Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary until smooth. On low speed, add the chocolate and beat until mixed.
  • Then add the processed almonds and beat, scraping the bowl, until incorporated.
  • The egg whites should be beaten in the large bowl of the mixer. If you don’t have an additional large bowl for the mixer, transfer the chocolate mixture to any other large bowl. Wash the bowl and beaters.
  • In the clean bowl of the mixer, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the salt and lemon juice, starting on low speed and increasing it gradually. When the whites barely hold a soft shape, gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Continue to beat until the whites hold stiff peaks when the beaters are raised. Do not overbeat.
  • Stir a large spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it a bit. Then, in three additions, fold in the remaining whites. Do not fold thoroughly until the last addition and do not handle more than necessary.
  • Turn the mixture into the prepared pan. Rotate the pan or tap it in order to level the batter.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F (170°C), then reduce the temperature to 325°F (160°C) and continue to bake for an additional 50 minutes. The top might crack a bit; that’s okay.
  • Remove the cake pan from the oven and place it on a rack. Let stand for 50 to 60 minutes.
  • Release and remove the sides of the pan (do not cut around the sides with a knife—it will make the rim of the cake messy). Now, let the cake stand until it is completely cool.
  • The cake will sink a little in the middle as it cools. Use a long, thin, sharp knife (or serrated) and level the top. It will seem like you’re cutting off a lot; don’t worry about it. The finished cake should be about 1 to 1 and ½ inch high. Brush away any loose crumbs. Place a rack or a small board over the cake and carefully invert. Remove the bottom of the pan and the paper lining.
  • The cake is now upside down; this is the way it will be iced.
  • Place 4 strips of  parchment paper (each about 3 x 12 inches) around the edges of a cake plate. With a large, wide spatula, carefully transfer the cake to the plate; check to be sure that the cake is touching the paper all around (in order to keep the icing off the plate when you ice the cake).
  • To make the ganache frosting, heat the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it boils. Add the espresso or coffee powder and whisk to dissolve.
  • Add the chocolate and remove from the heat. Stir until all the chocolate is all melted and the mixture is smooth. Let the ganache stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.
  • Pour the ganache slowly over the top of the cake. Using a long, narrow metal spatula, smooth the top and spread the icing so that a little runs down the sides of the cake (not too much—the icing on the sides should be a much thinner layer than on the top). Smooth the sides with the spatula then remove the parchment liners.

Tips/notes:

  • All of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions.

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