Saturday, September 7, 2013

Chocolate Almond Cake

I christened my new kitchen by baking a cake for my friend Bill who was a huge help to me throughout the remodeling project.

It was important to me that the first cake out of the oven go to him since I seriously don't know what I would have done without his help. You know you have a true-blue friend when they are willing to spend days helping to remove lath plaster walls in the summer heat.

So first cake out of the new kitchen is this Chocolate Almond Cake that is very similar to my most requested Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Filling and Chocolate Buttercream except that instead of using peanut butter I used almond butter.

I made one batch of "The Greatest and Easiest Chocolate Cake" and divided it among three 8-inch cake pans. After the cakes baked and cooled, I cut each cake into two layers so that I had a total of six cake layers.

I used three layers for the Chocolate Almond Cake and I wrapped and froze the remaining three layers for a future cake.

"Flowers" made out of slivered almonds and mini chocolate chips add a nice decorative touch and give a hint as to what's in the filling.
The flowers are pretty and so easy to make. Just stick five slivered almonds in a round to form petals and add a mini chocolate chip center.

Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Almond Cake

"The Greatest and Easiest" Chocolate Cake:
3 1/3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
12 ounces butter
3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans.

Place all ingredients in electric mixer bowl and beat on high speed for 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl once during mixing. Pour into prepared pans. Bake cakes for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

When the cakes are cool, slice each cake into two layers. Three of the layers are needed to assemble the cake so you can wrap and freeze the three remaining layers for later.

Almond Butter Filling:

3/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk

In a mixing bowl, whip almond butter and butter together. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Finally add milk and beat just until the filling comes together and is spreadable. Don't over beat.
The almond butter filling comes together quickly and it's important not to over beat it or it will dry out.

Chocolate Buttercream:

3 large egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of fine sea salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water, cooled
1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces, melted and cooled

Place the whites in a clean mixing bowl. Whisk in sugar and cream of tartar.

Place bowl over a double boiler on medium heat, stir frequently until the mixture is very hot (120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit).

Move to mixer and whip whites on high for 2 to 3 minutes; turn down to medium low until cool (use the bowl as your guide).

In a separate bowl with a wooden spoon, stir butter to soften.

With mixer on medium/high speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, adding the next tablespoon just as the previous one is blended in. Once all the butter incorporated, add in vanilla, salt, coffee and chocolate and whip on high speed until fluffy.

"Flowers" made out of Almond Slivers and Mini Chocolate Chips

The garnish ingredients.

To Assemble:
Once cakes have cooled, set one layer on a serving platter and top with 1/2 the almond butter filling. 
Add the second layer and top with the remaining filling. Finally, add the third layer and chill the cake until the filling is set.

Frost with the chocolate buttercream and garnish with the almond slivers and mini chocolate chips.
I like to fill and stack the cake layers and chill them for about 30 minutes before frosting. When I frost a cake I  usually start by adding a big pile of frosting on top.

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