Chocolate cake is the little black dress of desserts. Everyone has a recipe for one. Growing up in the 70’s, my mom made chocolate salad dressing cake which sounds gross, but it’s actually so delicious. She also made chocolate sheet pan brownies with chocolate buttercream frosting. Also delicious! I remember coming into the house after hours of playing in the yard- just a gang of neighborhood kids climbing trees and catching frogs in the creek getting dirty and hungry. I’ll always remember the smell of fresh baked chocolate cake filling the house and the sight of frosting beaters just waiting to be licked. With cold milk, there just wasn’t a better treat. Today I’m reminiscing by filling the house with the fresh chocolaty aroma of a flourless chocolate almond cake.
Typically, flourless chocolate cakes require egg whites beaten until stiff. Such cakes rise more when baking, but then it sinks once cooled, creating a “crater” on the surface and a slightly denser cake. This recipe calls for a bit of baking powder which produces a slightly fluffier cake, different from the typical dense chocolaty flourless cake with the fudge texture. This fluffier cake combined with the denseness of the almond flour makes for a fantastic texture. Plus, it’s far easier and quicker to make, and the cake has a more level surface with a thin crackly layer, like brownies. The the inside is lovely and moist. To recreate a bit of the fudge-like quality, I’ve added a chocolate ganache. This is a cake that is quick and easy to throw together while yielding a quality flavor and texture suitable for your best guests and even the gang of kids playing in the yard.
Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake
- 2/3 cup regular olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups almond meal (flour) or 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour ( for a non-gluten free alternative)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 X 9-inch springform cake pan
- Ganache (recipe below)
- A handful chopped hazelnuts and almonds
- dark chocolate shavings (use a vegetable peeler and pull along the side of a piece of chocolate to create small chocolate curls.)
- Preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Grease your springform pan with a little oil and line the base with parchment paper.
- Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or pitcher and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, rather thin paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
- In another bowl, combine the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.
- Put the sugar, olive oil, and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes, until you have a pale-pink, aerated, and thickened cream.
- Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in, you can slowly add in the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) mixture.
- Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the sides are set and the very center, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mostly clean, but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
- Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its pan, then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the pan.
- Leave to cool completely.
- This cake is delicious warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but if you’re serving it for an occasion make the ganache. Who am I kidding? Always make the ganache. It is fabulous!
- 8 oz dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp Heavy cream *
Note*: My original recipe calls for Hazelnut milk instead of cream, but I personally have not been able to get the hazelnut milk blended as smoothly with the chocolate. Heavy cream seems to make a silkier, creamy ganache.
- Place the chopped dark chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the hazelnut milk or heavy cream to a simmer and pour over the chopped chocolate. Leave for a minute or two before stirring with a whisk until completely smooth.
- Spread the ganache on the cake with a rubber spatula and decorate with the chopped hazelnuts and dark chocolate shavings.