Whoa! This week marks Pastry Studio’s 7th blog anniversary, so I’m going all in with a chocolate cake to celebrate. As I look back over time, I’m super grateful for all I’ve learned about blogging and the art of pastry and desserts, a constant lesson. What started out as a way to stay involved in a profession I loved as I returned to consulting in my previous career became an engaging and soul soothing pursuit of the senses. Seven years of testing, writing, photographing, blogging and a labor-of-love cookbook later, I’m still as infatuated with the tools of the trade as ever.
My anniversary pastry is a conspiracy of cocoa, almonds, raspberries and chocolate, old friends assembled for a delicious reunion. It's a simple oil cake mixed in a bowl to which I’ve added toasted ground almonds. The filling is made with fresh raspberries macerated in sugar and lemon juice. The cake is finished in a sumptuous chocolate glaze to bolster the sensation of chocolate and lend a silky high note to the chorus.
Thanks for all the wonderful emails and kindnesses from my readers over these last seven years. It’s been such an incredible pleasure to be here. Have a piece of cake and please make sure to enjoy all your endeavors in your kitchen. Cheers!
- Use an 8” square pan that has at least 2 1/4” sides.
- Mixing cocoa powder with hot water helps to “bloom” the flavor. I prefer to use hot water rather than coffee in cakes made with cocoa powder because I think coffee tends to muddy the taste.
- I like to use sliced almonds because they grind to a finer consistency in a food processor.
- To toast sliced almonds, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a 350 F degree oven for about 5 – 7 minutes. Watch them closely as they will burn quickly.
- The cinnamon helps enhance and round out the cocoa flavor.
- I invert the baked cake onto a small removable tart bottom to make it easier to handle. I also dust the metal disc very lightly with cocoa powder beforehand to prevent sticking. Once the cake is glazed and trimmed, I use a large metal spatula to help transfer the cake off the metal bottom and onto a serving platter.
- For the chocolate glaze, finely chopping the chocolate into very small bits ensures it will melt more evenly, quickly and lump free. When the hot cream is added, let it sit for about 1 minute so the chocolate can absorb the heat. Then stir gently and slowly, starting in the middle and working outward in concentric circles, to prevent it from cooling down too fast and creating air bubbles. As soon as the glaze is blended, flood the center of the cake quickly and then move to the edges.
- Square cakes are harder to glaze, so after pouring on the glaze, I grab the sides of the cake and shimmy and shake the whole thing vigorously so the glaze spreads out and covers the surface. Messy but fun.
- I’ve chosen a square format but it can be baked as a round cake just as easily without the need for trimming. Use a 9” x 2” round cake pan and check it at about 35 minutes. Increase the glaze as follows to cover the entire cake: 5 oz semisweet chocolate, 3/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon corn syrup, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla. To glaze the cake, pour the glaze quickly in the center of the cake and then around the edges. Let it run for a few seconds and then gently jiggle and tap the baking sheet on the work surface to encourage the glaze to run down the sides of the cake. Just as it begins to dry, run a small flat spatula around the underside of the cardboard round to smooth the bottom edge and prevent “feet” from forming. Let the glaze firm up before serving.
- The use of corn syrup in the chocolate glaze adds to the viscosity, ease of pouring and shine. I rarely use corn syrup but in this preparation it is a fairly small amount. You can leave it out if you wish.
Chocolate Almond Raspberry Cake
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) flour
1/2 cup (2 oz) sliced almonds, toasted
3/4 teasoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (53 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 oz) hot water
1/2 cup (4 oz) canola oil
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs @ room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup (4 oz) buttermilk @ room temperature
12 oz fresh raspberries
2 – 3 tablespoons sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
3 oz semisweet (56% - 62%) chocolate
1/2 cup (4 oz) heavy cream
2 teaspoons (1/2 oz) corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease an 8” square cake pan and line with parchment with a slight overhang on two sides.
Place the flour, sliced almonds, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a food processor. Process until the almonds are finely ground. Set aside.
Whisk the cocoa and hot water together until thoroughly blended and smooth.
Whisk together the oil, both sugars and eggs and blend well. Add the cocoa mixture and vanilla and almond extracts and mix thoroughly. Stir in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with half the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until well blended. Pour into the prepared pan and gently tap the bottom of the pan on the work surface to remove any air bubbles.
Bake until a toothpick tests with just a few small moist crumbs adhering, about 40 - 42 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges and lift out the cake using the parchment overhang to assist. Cool completely on a wire rack.
When ready to assemble, set aside a few raspberries for garnish and place the remainder with the sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Mash them coarsely with a fork. Let them sit to macerate for about 10 minutes.
Set up a baking sheet with a piece of parchment or a silpat and place a wire rack on top. Invert the cooled cake onto the rack and gently peel off the parchment. Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally and set the top half aside. Spread the mashed raspberries evenly over the surface. Replace the top half of the cake.
For the chocolate glaze, finely chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and corn syrup on medium heat until it just begins to come to a boil. Remove from heat, add vanilla and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute and then stir just until fully combined.
Pour the glaze quickly in the center of the cake and then move outward toward the edges. Jiggle the cake to encourage the glaze to glide evenly across the surface. Once the top is covered, let the cake sit for 15 - 20 minutes. Using a serrated knife, trim the sides. Garnish with reserved raspberries.