Posts Tagged ‘chocolate cake’

An Anniversary Dinner: Soup, a Savory Pie and Chocolate Almond Cake

November 3, Evan and I celebrated our third anniversary. It seems that each year before this one, November 3 has been a hectic day full of lots changes. On our first anniversary, I moved out to Budapest. Evan was already there, and I was joining him to live there for a couple of months before we went to London. On our second anniversary, we started to move into our apartment in LA. We didn’t finish the move because my parents’ dog, Murray, died that day, so we went to spend time with my parents. This year didn’t have any of the fuss of the years before. Evan went to work, I stayed home and worked, and I decided to cook us a nice dinner so we could just enjoy each others’ company at home.

I turned to my trusty New Vegetarian Epicure cookbook and found a nice seasonal meal of butternut squash and pear soup, chard and fennel pie, and one of Evan’s favorite desserts — a chocolate and almond cake with a layer of raspberry preserves.

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

The soup was quite simple — I cooked a butternut squash and a sweet potato in some vegetable stock and water until they were tender. Then I sauteed 4 pears and 1 onion in some olive oil. Once everything was tender, I blended it all together and added just a touch of cream (it would have been fine without it, but it was a special occasion). The soup was nice and sweet and hearty. I would definitely make it again.

A Slice of Chard and Fennel Pie

A Slice of Chard and Fennel Pie

Our main course, the chard and fennel pie, was a bit time consuming to make because I had to make a dough, let it rise, make the filling, put together the pie and bake it, but it was worth it. The doughy crust was nice and light and bready, since it was a bread dough and not a pastry crust. The contents of the pie blended together really well, with the chard adding a deep green color, the cooked fennel adding its slightly anise taste, and feta cheese adding a nice amount of bite and salt. It also looked quite nice (and could have been even nicer had I been a little better at handling the dough), and it sliced beautifully. It also held up well as leftovers, both hot and cold, for quite a few days.

Chocolate Cake with Almonds and Raspberry Jam

Chocolate Cake with Almonds and Raspberry Jam

The cake was a favorite I’d made once before. I did have to make it twice since on my first attempt I didn’t fold in the egg whites quite enough and the cake became a strange consistency and had some white streaks through it. But on the second try, the cake turned out perfectly — it wasn’t too flat, I was able to slice it in half easily (though not exactly evenly), and we even dusted the top with powdered sugar. It’s a great cake that isn’t as rich as it looks, has a slight crunch from the almonds, depending on how well you grind them, isn’t too sugary, and is just a really nice finish to a meal.

I actually made the cake again this week for a holiday party. It’s a recipe that Evan’s parents got as a handout for a department store selling some sort of kitchen gadget. They didn’t buy the gadget — and don’t even remember what it was — but they have used the cake recipe. I haven’t made many cakes from scratch before, and it does take some effort, but this one comes together really well. Here’s the recipe…

Gateau Chocolat-Amande

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 eggs separated
  • ¼ cup cold coffee (I often don’t wait for the coffee to cool, and have used both regular and instant coffee)
  • ½ cup finely ground almonds
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (8 tbs or 1 stick)
  • 1 Tbs. Triple Sec
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • Raspberry preserves,
  • Powdered sugar

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter, line, and flour a 9” round cake pan

2. In a double boiler, combine and melt together the 4 oz. of chocolate and the ¼ cup of cold coffee

3. When the chocolate is melted, whisk in the ½ cup of unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time. When the butter is absorbed, whisk in ½ cup of sugar. Allow the mixture to cool.

4. While the chocolate mixture is cooling, separate the 4 eggs and grind the ½ cup of almonds.

5. Whisk the egg yolks into the cooled chocolate mixture one at a time. Fold in the ground almonds, the 1 Tbs. Triple Sec and the 1/4 cup flour.

6. Whip the egg whites until stiff and then fold them gently into the batter. (This is the hardest part to get just right. You need to make sure everything is incorporated, but you don’t want to over-mix. Thankfully, if the egg whites fall a little too much when you incorporate them with rest of the ingredients, the cake will still turn out ok, just a little thin. We’ve put the raspberry preserves on top instead of cutting the thin cake in half, and it still tasted delicious.)

7. Turn the completed batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes. The cake is done when it springs back to the touch, and it will be moist in the center.

8. Unmold the cake and allow it to cool on a cooling rack. When cool, split the cake into two layers.

9. Arrange the bottom layer on a serving plate and spread it with a layer of raspberry preserves. Top with the second layer of cake. (The original recipe says “thin” layer of preserves, but you can judge the thickness that you’d like — we tend to put on quite a bit).

10. To serve: Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioner’s sugar. Use a doily or a cake rack to make a design if you wish. (You’ll want to do this just before serving since the cake absorbs the powdered sugar quite quickly)

The cake will keep well refrigerated, though its taste and texture will become a bit richer as the preserves get absorbed by the cake.