I have a new favorite movie. It’s Julie and Julia. For starters, Meryl Streep is an incredible actress. Next up is my absolute adoration of Amy Adams. I don’t think I’ve seen anything I didn’t like her in. Finally, it’s about cooking. And I love cooking. 🙂 A major warning of this movie: it makes you terribly hungry. By the end I was poking through the cupboards and inventing some cheesy garlic bread for a quick fix. Definitely not the same thing as the marvelous creations in the movie, but I told myself to put the movie recipes on hold for the next day.
So, I discovered the recipe for the delightful Chocolate Almond Cake that Julie Powell and her husband smash in each others faces. The cake was relatively simple, though it did involve melting chocolate, whipping egg whites, and sifting flour in rapid succession, but if I could do it then so can you. I also had a little trouble with the frosting….stirred it a little too much in the ice bath so it got a bit too stiff for spreading. But I smoothed it out and popped in the fridge to hopefully work itself into submission. But here it is:
* Round cake pan , 8 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches deep
* 3-quart mixing bowl
* Wooden spoon or Electric beater
* Rubber spatula
* Cake rack
* 4 ounces or squares semisweet chocolate , melted
* 2 Tbsp. rum or coffee
* 1/4 pound or 1 stick softened butter
* 2/3 cup granulated sugar to mix with butter
* 3 egg yolks
* 3 egg whites
* Pinch of salt
* 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar to beat with egg whites
* 1/3 cup pulverized almonds
* 1/4 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla works if you don’t have this)
* 1/2 cup cake flour , scooped and leveled, turned into a sifter
* Chocolate-Butter Icing*
To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour the cake pan. Set the chocolate and rum or coffee in a small pan, cover, and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.
Cream the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture. Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.
Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle 1 Tbsp. sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir in one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.
Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 ·minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.
Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on the rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.
To serve: Use the Chocolate-Butter Icing, and press a design of almonds over the icing.
*Chocolate Butter Icing:
* Small covered pan
* Larger pan of almost simmering water
* Wooden spoon
* Bowl with tray of ice cubes and water to cover them
* Small flexible-blade metal spatula or table knife
* 2 ounces (2 squares) semisweet baking chocolate
* 2 Tbsp. rum or coffee
* 5 to 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Place the chocolate and rum or coffee in the small pan, cover and set in the larger pan of almost simmering water. Remove pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth. Lift chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency. At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife.