Marie, who often has chocolate chips for breakfast, was disappointed when I didn’t bring a chocolate dessert to last month’s Discussion Group meeting. I’m determined to satisfy her expectations tonight. This recipe for an almond flour based cake with a ganache icing is inspired by one served at the very cool Foreign Cinema in San Francisco.
Our kitchen benefits from having two stand mixers to use for recipes that require one bowl for whipped egg whites and another for yolks. If you have a single stand mixing bowl, gently transfer the egg whites to a clean bowl and use the (Kitchen Aid) bowl to beat the yolks. If you use a lot of recipes that require separated eggs, consider investing in a duplicate mixer bowl.
DECADENT CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CAKE – Serves 10-12
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
12 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
11 whole eggs, separated
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided into 1/4 and 1/2 cup portions
1½ cups (5 oz.) almond flour or ground, toasted blanched almonds
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 rounded teaspoon espresso powder mixed with 1 teaspoon warm water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
9 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 oz. good quality milk chocolate
1½ cups heavy cream
1 cup of sliced almonds or 20 – 30 pansy or viola blossoms with leaves to decorate the cake.
1. Preheat an oven to 325˚F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and lightly spray the paper.
2. Start to melt the butter in a medium saucepan set over low heat before adding the bittersweet chocolate. Whisk to blend and set aside to cool.
3. Combine the egg whites and ¼ cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk until it is stiff but not dry. Set aside in a large clean mixing bowl.
4. Combine the egg yolks with the remaining ½ cup of sugar in the stand mixing bowl and whisk until they are pale yellow and slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium speed.
5. Pour the cooled chocolate/butter mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Mix on medium low speed until blended, scraping down as needed.
6. Mix the salt into the almond flour and fold into the chocolate mixture.
7. Gently fold about 1 cup of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture before pouring the chocolate onto the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, gently and carefully fold the chocolate into egg whites to evenly combine. Take care to fold the heavier batter up from the bottom to fully incorporate all the chocolate.
8. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes. Using a scale will help insure the batter is evenly divided (about 20 oz. per pan.)
9. When the cakes are out of the oven, heat the heavy cream to just boiling in a medium sized sauce pan. Remove from the heat and add the semisweet and milk chocolate. Cover for 5-10 minutes whilst the chocolate melts. Whisk to blend.
10. Let the cakes cool completely before removing from the pans. Use an extra large metal spatula to transfer the cake layers to the service plate.
11. Arrange 4 short rectangles of waxed paper on a flat cake plate. The waxed paper will catch any ganache that dribbles off the sides. Place the a cake layer on the waxed paper. Pour/spread a layer of ganache over the top of the bottom cake, spreading it evenly. Place the top cake on the chocolate, creating a double layer. Next, spread the remaining ganache so the entire cake is covered, reheating it slightly if necessary to achieve a smooth shiny top.
12. Decorate the sides with sliced almonds or arrange (a garland of) violas, pansies, or violets around the bottom of the cake. Remove the waxed paper when the ganache has set up using a gently horizontal tugging motion. Set in the refrigerator to chill for 1-2 hours before covering so the ganache can set up.
Note: The cake can be made a day ahead. Store chilled and well covered. Remove it from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving.