This is post #4 of LunaCafe’s annual Love Rules! All Chocolate! All Month! celebration. Each post in February will feature a very special chocolate recipe, perfect for sharing with those special people in your life. Click the link above for photos and pointers to all past chocolate posts. And don’t miss the post titled, The Wonderful World of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, which details 17 fabulous cocoas, including my picks for top honors. Now back to the celebration!
I have been dreaming of creating a chocolate and almond paste pound cake for some time now and have finally done it. The impetus was Valentine’s Day of course but maybe even more this gorgeous, nonstick Nordic Ware quilted heart cake pan.
I ran into it online and ordered it on the spot. A couple of days later and there it was, sturdy and gleaming on the kitchen counter. I took a close look at the intricate design and began to have trepidation about whether the cake would release cleanly from the pan, with all of the design intact. The directions that come with the pan indicate to brush the interior with soft butter or shortening before adding the cake batter. I almost floured the surface as well but then thought better of it. After all, the surface is nonstick. The cake released perfectly, every bit of the design preserved.
However, most of my pound cake recipes are engineered for a 10- to 12-cup bundt pan, and although this Nordic Ware pan says it has a 10-cup capacity, it most decidedly DOES NOT. It has a capacity of 7 cups tops, and I recommend that you do not fill it any fuller than 6 cups.
So, because of the capacity issue, I was prepared to test this recipe a couple of times to get the proportions just right for the pan size, but the first test was perfection.
The cake has a moist, tender, dense, and almost chewy texture, with a full chocolate flavor balanced by an equally assertive almond flavor. It is one of those cakes that actually seems to improve in texture the second day after it is baked. And in fact, the cake was still moist when we finished it off on the third day. Do of course wrap it closely with a couple layers of plastic wrap and maybe even foil to boot.
Although this cake is an appropriate choice to conclude a special meal, it is also great as a snack pulled from your backpack after a long hike. Its sturdy texture ensures that you can eat it out of hand with only a few stray crumbs. So, if you are on lunchbox duty and want to impress someone special on Valentine’s Day, this is your cake.
Chocolate Almond Pound Cake
This cake has an enchanting texture, partly because of the chewy effect lent by the almond paste. It is excellent served plain, dusted with only a little powdered sugar, and sublime served with crème anglaise (custard sauce) and dark caramel sauce, both drizzled on the plate. It can also be coated with chocolate glaze for an elegant finish.
unsalted butter, room temperature, to brush pan
1½ cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour (6¼ ounces)
½ cup unsweetened, natural process cocoa (not alkalized) (1 1/8 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ cups sugar
3½ ounces almond paste (half a 7-ounce tube)
¾ cup unsalted butter, cool room temperature (1½ sticks)
2 teaspoons instant espresso
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup sour cream
- Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven with plenty of room above it and preheat the oven to 325°.
- Brush a 6- to 7-cup capacity nonstick cake or bundt pan with room temperature butter. (If the pan is not nonstick, butter it first, and then dust evenly with flour, tapping out any excess that does not stick.)
- Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar with the almond paste until well combined. Add the butter and beat until smooth and creamy. Stop the machine a few times and scrape the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula.
- While beating at medium speed, add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and espresso, a bit at a time, beating only until they are blended.
- With the machine running at medium speed, drizzle in the egg, a little at a time, making sure that each addition in fully absorbed before adding the next bit.
- With the machine running at the lowest speed, and using only bursts of power, add a third of the flour mixture and a third of the sour cream, Repeat twice more with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream, scraping the bowl with a flexible spatula in between additions. Finally, beat the batter on medium speed for 10-15 seconds until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top feels springy and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you see the sides of the cake pulling away from the pan, remove the cake immediately from the oven. Don’t overbake or the cake will be dry.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes or so. Turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
- To finish, dust with powdered sugar.
Make Ahead If well-wrapped to prevent moisture loss, this cake will keep at room temperature for a few days; or longer in the freezer.
Makes one cake; serves 6-8.
Check out these additional CHOCOLATE recipes, from the first, second, and third (thus far) Love Rules! All Chocolate! All Month! celebrations at LunaCafe:
- Spirited Mocha Crepes with Peanut Butter Caramel, Peanut-Cocoa Nib Brittle & White Chocolate Crema
- Heavenly Chocolate Crepes
- Chocolate Shortcake with White Chocolate Crema, Strawberry Lime Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa
- Bittersweet Chocolate Orange French Toast for Lovers
- Fried Banana Split with Mexican Chocolate Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa
- LunaCafe Otherworldly Silky Fudgy Brownies
- Quintessential Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
- The Wonderful World of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- White Chocolate, Cardamom & Coconut Beignet
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Montmorency Cherry Morning Love Muffins
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta Mundo!
- Burnt Sugar & Rosemary Chocolate Tarts
- LunaCafe’s Ultimate Chocolate Pudding
- Luscious White Chocolate & Raspberry Rose Petal Cheesecake
- Mexican Hearts of Fire Cookies
Copyright Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.