Thursday, March 4, 2010

the best chocolate birthday cake ever!

our family is a chocolate one and if a birthday or special event appears during the year, it is almost always celebrated with chocolate almond cake. although we may branch out once in a while with some other chocolatey alternative, it is the chocolate almond cake that is our unfailing favourite.
which is why it was the birthday cake of choice for niki's birthday tea party here at the little brown house just a couple of days ago. even though niki's birthday cake disappeared almost as soon as it came out of the oven, it's a pretty safe bet that, should you come to the lbh, you'll find a slice of chocolate almond cake waiting for you (we love it so much we pretty much always have one here!).
and it's not just the finished product that is fantastic with this cake - it's the whole process of making it. there's something intensely therapeutic and definitely a little bit magic about heating up and slowly mixing the glossy, dark chocolate. the smell of it fills the kitchen and i challenge any self-respecting chocolate lover to resist this cake.
and don't worry about serving it with anything because it is just perfect by itself (although, if you want it is a stunning match with balsamic strawberries).
chocolate almond cake
180g dark chocolate (only the finest please. at least 70% cacao)
175g butter, softened
125g unrefined sugar
200g ground almonds
4 eggs, separated
for the icing:
100g dark chocolate
50g butter
heat oven to 150 degrees celcius. line a 25cm springform cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides.
break chocolate into pieces and melt in a copper (or other heatproof) bowl over a pot of simmering water. don't boil the water or you'll burn the chocolate.
cream together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy. add the ground almonds, egg yolks and melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.
whisk the egg-whites until stiff, then add them to the cake mixture and fold everything together with a big metal spoon (be careful not to break the air in the egg-whites). pour into the cake tin and bake for 35mins (the middle should be a little squishy). allow to cool a little before removing from the tin.
to make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter together in a big heatproof bowl over simmering water then drizzle over the cake and leave to set.

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