lemon jelly

Chocolate-Almond Layer Cake
July 7, 2008, 9:54 pm
Filed under: food, nutrition, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Friends are good for a lot of things – comfort, laughs, moral support, and sometimes even the odd break-and-enter job. They give hugs, induce fits of hysterical and inappropriate laughter, reassure you that you’re not completely crazy, and drive get-away vehicles. This isn’t to say that we clambered up any fire escapes and into bedroom windows this weekend, but by late evening on Friday, everyone had developed a fair appetite, so I was happy to take advantage of another thing that friends are good for – trying out new things on in the kitchen.

I made Melissa Clark’s Double Garlic Soup, Peter Berley’s Garlicky Braised Greens (minus the toasted pumpkin seeds) from his book, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, and a chocolate-almond layer cake, something half-improvised, half-adapted from an Ina Garten recipe. The idea behind the dinner was to introduce my friends to either new and unfamiliar ingredients or more familiar ones in an unusual way – all with nutrition and vegetarianism in mind, of course.

The soup was the dish I was most excited to make because instead of ordinary garlic heads it called for green garlic and garlic scapes, which I had read about in the New York Times earlier this summer and had found at the farmers’ market. The soup was good to begin with and even better two sleep-deprived days later when I remembered that there were leftovers in the fridge. Even so, I’m not really in a hurry to make it again because it was fairly labour-intensive with all of the chopping and a bit on the expensive side. Maybe I’ll have forgotten the pains of the process by next summer when scapes and green garlic are in season again.

I decided on the Berley recipe because I’d been wanting to cook kale (yet another dark, leafy iron- and calcium-rich green of the vegetarian arsenal) for a few weeks but wasn’t sure of how to approach it. Everyone enjoyed this dish too, and it was definitely the easiest of the three to prepare. It basically involved heating up a pot of water and doing some slicing and sauteeing.

The cake, however, seemed to be the real triumph of the evening. The original recipe involved a sugary, butter-heavy icing that I really wasn’t interested in – yes, even dessert couldn’t be entirely nutritionally void. Rather than going to butter for fat, then, I took the almond butter I’d made earlier in the day and turned it into a rich almond cream to separate the layers of fudgy cake. It was absolutely lovely. Seconds were had. Dishes were licked. I’ll be making this again before the end of the summer.

Chocolate-almond Layer Cake

Adapted from an Ina Garten recipe printed in The Toronto Star.

Note: the cup of coffee makes this cake batter alarmingly runny, but not to worry, you will end up with a moist, fudgy cake after 35 minutes in the oven.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh-brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup half-and-half (10% m.f.) cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds

The Cake

  1. Butter two eight-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust with flour.
  2. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined, then slowly incorporate coffee into batter.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for 30 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely. Peel paper off.

Almond Cream

  1. Heat half-and-half in a saucepan over low heat until just about simmering – wait for the first few bubbles and remove from heat.
  2. In the meantime, whisk yolks and sugar into the almond butter.
  3. Gradually whisk half-and-half into the almond-butter mixture. Return mixture to saucepan on low heat until visibly thickened, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and chill in the fridge until ready to use.


  1. Spread half of almond cream over first cake layer. Place second cake on top of the first and spread with the remaining cream.
  2. Garnish with almonds and serve.

5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Jesus, this looks delicious.


Comment by Amelia

This was delicious. I propose some cooking sessions once I get to Kingston- I’m investing in a bunch of Indian spices before I head up there.

Comment by Jordan

Jordan, sounds good. I haven’t really tried my hand at Indian yet, so I’d love to learn. If you’re having trouble finding any spices, let me know before the end of the summer. Ev said that she’d bring back spices with her if I asked. I’m tempted to ask her to bring back some saffron.

Comment by Katie

You can get saffron in Kingston – try the Asian Market or Tara Foods. It comes in little plastic boxes.

Comment by Steve

I was actually going to ask you about that…it just slipped my mind. I know what I’m baking this weekend!

Comment by Katie

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