Chocolate and Almond Cake

I love the idea of Julie & Julia.  Learning how to cook by working through all of the recipes and techniques in ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’.  I just can’t handle the idea of an aspic.  Who want’s to eat a savory jello?

This recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

No substitutions were made.

chocolate almond cake 1

Chocolate and Almond Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

A round cake pan 8 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches deep – I used a square pan
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 tblsp rum or coffee – I used coffee

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.

3 quart mixing bowl
A wooden spoon or an electric beater
1/4 lb or 1 stick softened butter
2/3 c granulated sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.

3 egg yolks

Beat in the egg yolks until well blended

3 egg whites
Pinch of Salt
1 tblsp granulated sugar

Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

A rubber spatula
1/3 c pulverized almonds
1/4 tps almond extract
1/2 c cake flour, turned into a sifter

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 the middle level of a preheated oven for about 25 minutes.  Cake is done with 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 a rack.  Allow it cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

Chocolate-Butter Icing

2 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 tblsp rum or coffee – I used coffee
a small covered pan
a larger pan of almost simmering water
5 to 6 tlbsp unsalted butter
a wooden spoon
a bowl with a tray of ice cubes and water to cover them
a small flexible blade metal spatula or a table knife

Place the chocolate and the rum or coffee in the small pan, cover and set in the larger pan of almost simmering water.  Remove the 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.

cartoon-strawberry-9We had some friends over for dinner and I made this for dessert, which is why there’s only a single picture of the cake.  Also, I moved the cake when it was cooling and a corner broke off completely.  This icing worked as the perfect glue.  If you have the time, make the cake in the morning and the icing in the afternoon, when the cake has had plenty of time to cool.  BTW, this cake is dense and moist; the almond and chocolate balance each other perfectly.

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Creamy Almond Coated Chicken

We’ve been living on a diet heavy with chicken lately since husband’s doctor has asked him to cut out red meat.  It’s challenging me to find new recipes and get a little creative.

This recipe is from Step-by-Step Italian, Mexican & Chinese Recipes.

No substitutions were made.

almond chicken 1

Creamy Almond Coated Chicken

1/2 c blanched almonds
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (approx 6 oz each)
2 to 3 tblsp vegetable oil
1 tblsp butter
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1 fresh Anaheim or poblano chili – roasted, peeled, seeded, deveined and finely chopped
1 sm tomato – seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c heavy cream

Process almonds, about 1/4c at a time, with a spice grinder to create a fine powder  Place ground almonds on a shallow plate.

Coat chicken with almonds; reserve remaining almonds. – My chicken was a little too wet, so the almonds didn’t stick well.  live and learn.

almond chicken 2

Heat 1 tblsp of oil and butter in a deep, large skillet over medium heat until foam subsides.  Place breasts in a single layer in the skillet without crowding.  Cook 6 minutes or until chicken is light brown, turning once.  Reduce heat if almonds get too dark.  Remove chicken to plate.  Repeat with any remaining chicken, adding oil if needed.

Add 1 tblsp of oil and onion to skillet.  Cook and stir over medium heat 3 minutes or until onion is softened.  Add chili, tomato and garlic.  Cook and stir 1 minute.  Add broth, salt and reserved almonds.  Bring to a boil over high heat.

almond chicken 3

Return chicken to skillet.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until chicken is tender and juices run clear.  Remove chicken to serving plate; cover and keep warm.

Add cream to broth mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.  Pour over chicken when serving.

almond chicken 4

cartoon-strawberry-9This chicken was good, but I would want to tweak it a little next time.  I expected the roasted chili to add more heat, so I’m wondering if some cumin or chili powder in the sauce would give it the kick I’m looking for.  But the sauce, Oh My, the sauce.  All I wanted to do was add some cheese and make a queso out of it.

On Wednesday, I’ll be posting about the rice pictured here, Arroz Rojos.

Honey-Glazed Almonds

Husband and I are both big fans of the almond.  He loves an almond covered in dark chocolate.  I love almonds covered in yogurt.  So I thought this would be a great alternative for both of us in the “covered almonds” department.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, November 2011.

One change, noted below.

Honey-Glazed Almonds

1 1/2 c raw, unblanced almonds
1 tblsp sugar
1 1/2 tblsp honey
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile powder – I used cayenne pepper.
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the almonds in a medium nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a 2-cup glass measure.  Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds.

Add honey mixture to pan, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Arrange almond mixture on prepared baking sheet in a single layer; let stand 10 minutes.  Break apart any clusters.

 

We both really liked these.  The spice adds a little kick of an aftertaste.  This would be a great recipe to triple and give out as a homemade Christmas present.