I bought this book about 3 years ago while traveling in Napa Valley, CA. I treated myself to a week of cooking course at Napa Valley’s Culinary Institute of America. Oh, my my, what a culinary adventure it was. Then we headed to Berkeley just because I HAD TO eat at the famous Chez Panisse restaurant. (The most expensive Mac and cheese we ever bought for our little toddler, $12, but the best one we ever had! Ever!). Then I found out that the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory was in this town, so of course we went for a visit.
I didn’t have a big crush on chocolate back then but I bought the book maybe because the aroma coming out of the factory did have an impact.
My addiction to chocolate actually started about a year ago while I was pregnant and diagnosed with gestational diabetes. My strong affection to home-made baked goods and pastries (see “A cake for the weekend”) had to stop for a while in order to control my blood sugar. At the same time I discovered Frans’ chocolate in Seattle. What a bad timing. So, to treat myself to a little something that won’t make my sugar levels jump so high, I cheated a little on the strict diet I had to follow and had a little truffle now and then and got into the habit of shopping at a Fran’s store once a month or so. Her truffles are so heavenly (No point in trying to make my own at home). Anyway…
I came across this book that sat on the shelf untouched and took a pick and found this recipe. I love pound cakes and coffeecakes, but after 5 years of baking a cake at least once a week, I got so bored. In this book I found a new direction. The cake is wonderful. Try it. It tastes even better the next day, so if you can, make it a day ahead. And go and visit David Lebovis’s blog, it’s wonderful.
Cocoa-Marzipan Pound Cake
Makes two 8½-inch loaf cakes
3/4 cup (7 oz.) almond paste
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup milk
2/3 cup sliced almonds
Butter the loaf pans and dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the almond paste, sugar, and almond extract until the almond paste is broken into very fine pieces.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
Add the butter to the almond paste mixture and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir in half of the dry ingredients, then the milk, then add the remaining dry ingredients.
Divide the batter between the loaf pans and smooth the tops. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake the cakes for 45 minutes (I had to add another 10 minutes – N.), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Remove cakes from loaf pans. Wrap in plastic wrap overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
Have a sweet weekend.
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