September was a doozy for James. He’s an orchestrator on the third Hobbit film and didn’t have a day off the entire month. Last week, in the final push to get the music done, he worked fifteen-hour-plus days, seven days straight. By Sunday, the color was drained from his cheeks and he’d shrunk from his six-foot-four frame to Bilbo Baggins-like proportions. Something serious needed to be done to bring him back from his Middle Earth detainment. In other words, cake.
James’s favorite food is chocolate cake. He blames his older sister Christi for this, as she apparently fed him chocolate cake as a baby before he was supposed to be eating solid foods. He’s been hooked ever since. A cake was just the thing to revive him and celebrate all of his hard work. But cakes aren’t exactly my bag. Maybe it’s because I grew up celebrating birthdays and special occasions with pie à la mode, or maybe it’s just the tedium of having to measure an armload of ingredients, but I’d much rather make a tart, custard or crèpe any day over baking a cake. Plus, I needed something that could be thrown together within a four-year-old’s attention span, since Ella would be acting as my sous-chef. This rich chocolate almond cake was just the ticket. It’s ridiculously simple and quick and uses only a handful of pantry staples. The resulting cake is supremely moist and chocolately, and utterly divine with a dollop of whipped cream. It’s simplicity at its finest.
Bourbon ranks second on James’s list of favorites, and on Sunday night, in addition to the cake, we surprised him a bottle of Booker’s and a card from Ella (with a hand-drawn picture of her and Daddy eating cake—it apparently ranks high on her list of favorites as well). Smaug—at least in my own personal version of Hobbit madness—was finally defeated.
Chocolate Almond Cake (Gluten-Free)
- Butter for pan
- 4.5 ounces dark chocolate (preferably 70% cacao content), coarsely chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup (4.7 ounces) sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (3 ounces) almond flour (also called almond meal)
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water or in a double boiler. Let cool for five minutes.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs and sugar. Beat on high until light in color and doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Mix in the salt and vanilla. With the machine running on medium, slowly pour in the chocolate. Scrape down the sides, and add the almond flour. Mix until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until the top is hardened and a toothpick inserted comes out with few damp crumbs (the toothpick shouldn’t come out clean).
Set the pan on a cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes (the top will crack as it cools). Run a sharp knife around the sides and remove the outer ring. Let the cake cool completely. Do Ahead: The cake can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Once cooled, cover tightly and leave at room temperature.
Before serving, dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar. Serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream.