A little bit more about the cake I baked for my 40th birthday. For all the cooking I do, I don’t have a lot of experience with cakes and cake-like desserts. I’m more of a bread man, myself. Nonetheless, I decided to make a cake because it is always a good experience and there was a recipe for a Revamped Chocolate Torte in the November-December issue of Cooks Illustrated that looked worth a try.
I started the recipe on Thursday afternoon with a little prep work, then did the actual baking on Friday afternoon. Overall, I think the cake turned out okay although it is such a rich cake – nearly flourless – that it wouldn’t make my list of favorite cakes. But then, I’m not a big cake person. One challenge is that the recipe uses a food processor, which I don’t own. Instead, I used a stand mixer. Things seemed to work okay, but I don’t know if the slower speed of the mixer affected the texture at all.
I’ll give you a rundown of the recipe and the preparation process:
The first step was to make some almond flour, basically finely-processed almonds. You can buy this in some markets (it is used to make macarons, for example) but the recipe explains how to make it yourself since you use a relatively small quantity. Take 1 cup (4 ounces) of sliced almonds and lightly toast them.
Then process in a food processor for a few pulses until finely ground. You then add 1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) of flour and 1/2 teaspoon table salt and process it a few more seconds to combine. Not having a food processor, I used a coffee grinder attachment for my blender and it seemed to work okay.
Note on food processors. I had one in the US and didn’t seem to use it often. But nowadays I keep encountering recipes that call for a food processor, especially in the making of quick and easy pastry dough. I may break down eventually and buy another food processor. Cooks Illustrated recommends the 12-cup Kitchen Aid model.
Next, melt 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate with 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) of butter in a bowl set over simmering water. After smooth, remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, adding 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of instant espresso powder. Not having that, I had to use instant coffee.
While the eggs are cooling, process 5 large eggs in the food processor until almost doubled in volume. Not having the processor, I whipped them with the mixer. I think this may have made the texture a bit more dense than had I used the food processor. As the eggs are being whipped, slowly add 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) of granulated sugar. What you see here is the almond/flour/salt mixture, the egg/sugar mixture, and the chocolate/butter mixture.
Start by gently folding the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture using the whisk. This does not have to be thoroughly incorporated.
Next, gently whisk in the almond-flour mixture. Divide the batter between two 9-inch cake pans lined with parchment. The pans were not buttered and floured.
After baking about 15 minutes at 325 F. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans and then remove.
Spread a filling made of 1/4 cup raspberry jam and 1/2 cup raspberries (I used frozen as fresh are way too expensive here), mashed together.
Add the second layer of the cake, inverted so the bottom of the cake is facing up, giving you a relatively smooth surface with which to work.
To glaze the cake, melt 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate with 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream over a simmering pot of water. Then pour the glaze onto the cake and use a spatula to spread it evenly over the cake.
You can then add almonds to the side of the cake. I think I was supposed to use lightly chopped almonds but all I had were the sliced almonds. This is kind of a messy prospect. Also, you can decorate the top of the cake with fresh raspberries, which I didn’t have. The biggest challenge for me was that the glaze didn’t have a smooth, liquid consistency. Maybe it needed to be melted a bit further or have just a little more cream in it so it poured over the sides in a smooth motion? This is where my inexperience with cakes comes in.
Per the recipe, I put the cake in the fridge for a few hours to let the frosting set. I didn’t get it removed early enough, though, and when it was served it was still pretty cool and the ganache was solid. When I arrived at the restaurant I should have asked them to leave the cake out rather than put it in the fridge. Anyhow, it was tasty enough and considering it was for my own party, I think it turned out pretty nice.
I hope you enjoyed this cooking adventure and encourage you to try the cake yourself.
That looks REALLY good! Nice job, and great pictures!! :]
That’s a delicious looking cake!
aw…my mouth is watering.
::drool:: I’m not big into chocolate raspberry but… Damn. This was a beautiful piece of work. I Love, Love, LOVE your food porn. Gorgeous stuff.
I think if I tried to make that cake it would look more like a turd then anything else haha.
I think it was lovely. You are inventive with the substitutions – I’d have said “forget it” as soon as I realized I needed almond flour and powdered espresso… But shouldn’t someone else made the cake? I mean it was YOUR birthday! hehe So glad it was a good one!
You did a great job on this! It looks beautiful and looks like it taste heavenly 🙂
My mom and I will be happy to try this out – we LOVE chocolate and raspberry! :DThanks for sharing!!!
@Roadlesstaken – hahahaha…. I think you’re too modest. By the way, where are your food pics?
You know, your cooking & baking is so good that I gain weight just reading your blog. Grr….
@ElusiveWords – There’s a reason why they don’t exist.
You did pretty well, considering you’re mostly a ‘bread man’! Haha~I like that term. I wonder if you could do a mango chocolate cake? With fresh mangoes of course. ^0^
I absolutely love almonds in baked goods, probably because I used to be allergic to walnuts, so I’d avoid all walnut-laden cakes. The torte looks delicious! Kitchenaid + Le Creuset are gonna suck my soul out soon… I’m feening for the Kitchenaid Mixer as well as all Le Creuset products… so purdy… *starry eyes*
That looks beautiful and tasted wonderful I am sure. Not so sure I would attempt it!
Looks amazing. Might have to give that a try. Do you do anything with apples?
This is the second time I’ve heard of making flour out of something that is not a grain. Can you taste the almond flavor in the cake? And do you find that it significantly enhances the experience? I am so curious.
@ohletitbe – @osmundaregalis – @foggysunnymorning – @eternal_relevance – @fortheloveofblogging – @Fatcat723 – @yang1815 – Thanks for your kind words everyone. It was a tasty cake although I’ve got a lot of learning to do to increase my skill in cakes.@sassyjessie – Almond flour is used to make all sorts of wonderful desserts such as macarons and almond tuiles. In the case of this chocolate torte, it doesn’t have an overwhelming almond flavor but the ground nuts does add some richness to the flavor, an additional depth that regular flour would not have. It as also designed to keep the torte from being quite as dense and heavy, although since my technique was a bit off by using a mixer instead of a food processor, I can’t tell how much it affected the texture.@runningbartender7 – Apple pie!@moolgishin – If you get the Kitchenaid mixer, which is a fantastic quality product that will last a lifety, you might want to go ahead and pony up the money for a slightly larger and/or more powerful model than the Classic series. I’ve had a classic for a decade and I love it, but think it is a little under-powered especially when kneading bread dough. @CurryPuffy – I am trying to think whether I’ve cooked something with chocolate and mangoes. That sounds very familiar but I don’t see anything in my blog about it. Hmm…@ElusiveWords – Oh, that’s funny. Virtual weight gain? Surely there are some bloggers who write about exercise and you can virtually lose weight by reading their posts, too? Ha ha…@puella_sapiens216 – Chocolate and raspberry is a fantastic combination, isn’t it?@Passionflwr86 – I’m glad you enjoy it. I’ll have to keep a steady supply coming.@Roadlesstaken – That’s what the frosting is for. To make it a pretty turd.@murisopsis – Well, life is all about finding substitutions and work-arounds. I did noticed at the market yesterday that a local company is now selling smaller bags (about a half-pound) of almond flour so that’s good to know for future ease and convenience.
hmm… i’ll have to try this one out too. i suspect that your ganache probably needs a bit more cream, and i also think that that you probably didn’t beat the eggs hard enough or long enough if it came out really dense… but not having a food processor either, my attempt will probably end up like yours (not that that’s a bad thing!).
@kunhuo42 – Well, I got the volume of the eggs almost tripled so I thought it would be enough but possibly not. Next time I’ll keep at it for longer. As for the ganache, I’m sure you are right. Not viscous enough.
nicely done. Working with chocolate terrifies me.
This sounds really awesome. Chocolate and raspberry is one of my favorite combos.
You make me hungry. Happy Belated Birthday!
cake looks awesome. about the glaze, think the ganache was too cold when glazing. warming the ganache will make it more viscous.
@TheCheshireGrins – Isn’t it a great combo? I love chocolate ice cream with raspberry sorbet. Heaven.@icepearlz – @A_M0DERN_BEAUTY – Thank you very much.@AppsScraps – It is an ingredient with which I am not super-comfortable.
Definitely yummy! I recommend this recipe to all chocolate lovers. I have tried it and it was the best. Easy to make too. Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe. Kudos to you!
@Top rated coffee maker – Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the comment.