There was this chocolate almond cake I made all the time when I was in college. It was a very simple recipe that somehow always turned out great no matter how badly I followed the instructions (greasing the tin? who needs to do that?). Unfortunately I can’t, for the life of me, remember where the recipe came from – quite a likely something that was passed down from my mother or from a baking book I had at the time. I hadn’t thought about that cake in years, but I was overwhelmed with such a massive craving for chocolate the other day that I needed to make something quick and easy to satisfy the chocolate monster.
Since I could not find the recipe I decided to play around with the base ingredients: chocolate, eggs, butter, sugar, almonds and flour. I remembered the cake was light but also very chocolatey – as if someone had taken brownies and made them less dense but no less delicious. I am incredibly pleased to announce that my first attempt at recreating the recipe of my youth worked brilliantly – these mini chocolate and almond cakes are amazing! Seriously easy, seriously yummy, and they taste even better the day after you bake them.
For the cake
250g | 8.8oz plain (dark) chocolate, chopped
250g | 8.8oz caster sugar
150g | 5.3oz unsalted butter
125g | 4oz ground almonds
75g | 2.5oz plain (all purpose) flour
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
10 large blackberries (I used frozen)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp water
250g | 8.8oz icing sugar
115g | 4oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 tbsp double cream
150g | 5.3oz plain (dark) chocolate, chopped small
150g | 5.3oz double cream
1 tbsp golden syrup
2-3 tbsp whole milk to thin glaze (optional)
cocoa nibs or edible flowers to decorate (optional)
2. Beat the egg whites and salt until you have stiff peaks and set aside.
3. Place the chocolate and butter in a small pot and melt gently over very low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. Stir in the egg yolks, vanilla paste and sugar. Sift in the almonds and flour and stir together until smooth.
5. Add a third of the egg whites to loosen to the batter and then gently fold the rest.
6. Fill the mini sandwich tin or cupcake cases about halfway up and bake for 20-23 minutes for mini cakes/cupcakes or up to 40-45 minutes for a cake. The surface of the cakes will crackle a little – that’s normal. Cool in the tin and then carefully turn out.
7. Put the blackberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook until the blackberries burst and release their juices then strain the pulp and reserve the syrup.
8. Beat the icing sugar and butter until fluffy and then gradually add the double cream and enough of the blackberry syrup to get a lovely colour.
9. Put the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the cream and golden syrup until almost boiling then pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes then stir until silky smooth. Add the milk if you need to thin it out slightly.
10. If you wish to layer the cakes, then cut them in half and level if needed. Sandwich together with a little of the buttercream and then drizzle with the chocolate glaze until it starts to drip down the sides. Decorate with cocoa nibs or edible flowers (I used lilacs). The cakes keep very well for a couple of days.
Notes: if you make cupcakes you can use the buttercream to frost them and drizzle with a little chocolate sauce. Or you can frost them with the glaze which will thicken as it cools.