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Nana’s Chocolate Gateau with Crushed Almonds

Mary Anne here. This cake was my Nana’s signature dessert and it was highlighted in her cooking journal – a.k.a. the aforementioned book of “Receipts”. It’s an absolute knockout for any chocolate-loving company, and it’s incredibly easy. During my years catering, it became my most requested dessert.

If you don’t own an egg separator, now is the time to invest in one. When whipping egg whites, it is essential that your beaters and bowl be spotless, otherwise they will not form the stiff peaks necessary in many cake and meringue recipes.

Nana’s Chocolate Gateau with Crushed Almonds
Serves 8 to 10

Mariel’s note to travelers: Recently I brought this cake as a hostess gift on a two-hour flight down south. Fearful that it’d end up upside down or otherwise bashed in, I stopped by the local grocery store and picked up a 10-inch cake box from the friendly bakery guy. I made this cake the night before my 6AM flight, frosted it and let it set for about 12 hours. Before leaving for my flight, I gently covered the cake with a layer of saran wrap and a layer of tin foil. I taped the bottom of the cake dish to the cake box and hoped for the best. It arrived without a scratch (and it tasted delicious), so if you plan on bringing this anywhere, feel free to swipe my M.O.!

Note: Whenever you’re frosting a cake, cut strips of waxed paper and lay them around the perimeter of your serving plate before inverting the cake. After you’ve frosted the cake, remove the strips. Any smears will be on the waxed paper, not your serving piece. And those little strips are great for stealing a taste of this delicious confection before you have to share it with guests.

Ingredients for the cake:
3 eggs, separated – stock
¾ cup slivered or sliced almonds – $3.49
5 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate – $4.23
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened – stock
¾ cup sugar – stock
2/3 cup all-purpose flour – stock
¼ cup whole milk – stock
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract – stock
½ teaspoon salt – stock

For the frosting:
5 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate – calculated above
¼ cup unsalted butter – stock
3 Tablespoons milk – stock
1 cup confectioner’s sugar – $1.09
½ teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked pantry: $8.81
Per Serving: $0.88

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the almonds. Set aside half of the ground almonds to garnish the cake.

3. Melt the chocolate either in the top of a double boiler, or in the microwave set on defrost. (Approximately 4 minutes if you nuke it on level 3, but watch it.)

4. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream the softened butter with the sugar, adding the sugar by the tablespoonful until fully incorporated. The mixture should be fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate, mixing until thoroughly combined

5. Turn the speed of your mixer to low and gradually add the flour, alternating with the milk, beginning and finishing with flour. Don’t over beat or your cake will be dry. Fold in half of the ground almonds and the vanilla extract. Transfer batter to a large bowl and carefully wash the mixer’s beaters and bowl.

6. Using the immaculate beaters and bowl I warned you about, whip the egg whites with the salt. If you’re making just one cake and not doubling the recipe, use a small bowl for this part – the whites will whip up faster. Beat until fairly stiff peaks form when you lift the beaters.

7. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold only until the whites are just combined.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

9. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the edges of the cake. Invert onto a second wire rack and then invert again onto your cake stand or plate. (Top-side up for frosting.)

10. When the cake is fully cooled, prepare the frosting by melting the chocolate with the butter and milk in a double boiler over simmering water. When melted, transfer to a mixing bowl. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla or almond extract.

11. Frost the top and sides of cake and sprinkle the top with the reserved ground almonds.