Friday, January 5, 2018

Cocoa Almond Pound Cake

Chocolate cake..I recall one story from Bill Cosby about this dessert. Apparently, he was unwillingly in charge of breakfast. He did not want to get out of bed, but eventually was booted to the kitchen. Slamming around getting the pan and eggs out, in walks the youngest daughter. He asked her what she wanted and she pointed straight to the big chocolate cake on the counter. That was his cue for a shortcut. Well, the end result was all the kids eating cake for breakfast and the mother quite furious. It was Saturday, so I am sure they weren't sitting around quietly.

I do not recommend it for breakfast, but I will admit that there is something about a chocolate cake that makes it a choice favorite of all ages. When you find cake on the menu at a restaurant, there is very little chance that it is not chocolate. If there is a variety, chocolate flavor is always included. As far as type, milk chocolate has definitely taken a back seat to that deep, dark bitter or semi sweet chocolate.

So with that in consideration, this particular recipe reflects that dark chocolate that we all favor. In addition to chocolate, it is paired up with almond flavor. The almond paste in the batter and the crunchy almonds on top make this chocolate pound cake extra special.

If you are hosting a dinner party or are craving some dark chocolate, this is a good choice. It does make 2 loaves, but an extra loaf is good to have on hand. However, if you have kids, do yourself a favor and make sure it is not on the table at breakfast time!

Cocoa Almond Pound Cake
adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate

1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup or 2 sticks butter (room temp)
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup or 7 oz of almond paste
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sliced almonds

Prepare two loaf pans (8 1/2 inch) by buttering the interior and lining the bottom and two long sides with parchment. Leave some over hang of parchment on the long sides. Butter the surface of the parchment paper. Dust with flour and empty out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350.

Start by taking the almond paste and breaking it up into small pieces. Add it to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until broken up into finer pieces. Then add the sugar and the almond extract. Beat the mixture on medium speed for about 5 minutes. The mixture should still be crumbly and have some pea sized pieces in it (it will not be all fine crumbs) Set aside.

Take out another bowl and sift the baking powder and flour together. Then whisk in the salt and cocoa, distributing evenly.

Cube the butter and drop into the bowl of the almond mixture. Cream the ingredients together with the mixer on medium high speed for 2 minutes, stopping at intervals to scrape down the size of the bowl. This should result in a less dense, airy batter. Add one egg and beat for 30 seconds to incorporate into batter. Repeat this process with the remaining eggs, adding and beating one by one.

In the next step, the dry ingredients are to be folded into the batter in increments. In between the increments, whisk in the milk. Start and end with folding in the dry ingredients.

Measure out half of the batter and fill one of the prepared loaf pans. Smooth the top and repeat, filling the other pan. Lastly, cover the top of each loaf with the almonds, making sure the amount is evenly distributed.

Place in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, turning pans at the halfway point in baking. The recommended bake time is about 45 minutes.

Tips and Notes:
1. You are welcome to try this recipe with marzipan, but be aware that it contains more sugar than almond paste.

2. As usual, the higher quality of cocoa yields a much taster cake.

3. Dark chocolate is very strong in flavor, so the almond flavor is subtle.
                                 *LAST YEAR:Almond Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies*