This chocolate almond cake appeared (and continues to appear!) at almost every festive family occasion. We love its fudgy texture and delicate almond flavor, as well as the astonishing speed with which it comes together.
The Mother of All Chocolate Cakes
For those who haven’t read our origin story, it’s important to know that the source of our crazy sweet tooths can be attributed to two family chocolate cake recipes. Cake #1 was our grandmother Madlyn’s Favorite Devil’s Food Cake. We heard it described often and with fervent affection during our childhood. This is the second cake, which our mother made for almost every special occasion that we can remember. Some of our favorite childhood memories are of fighting over licking the bowl. This was the 1980s, after all, when people still let their children engage in risky unsupervised behavior like eating raw eggs and riding a bike without a helmet.
A Chocolate Almond Cake with Certain Uncertain Origins
Our mother claims to have invented this recipe. Indeed, exhaustive searches of the internet and vintage recipe books reveal nothing quite like it. Here is her version of events: When faced with a kindergarten requirement to come to class on Zoe’s half birthday and not just bring a cake, but make one in situ, she rose to the challenge by inventing this magical confection. The school’s French principal then asked her the name of the cake. Our mother suggested a fancy sounding “Gateau de Zoe” (“Zoe’s Cake” in French), and the name stuck.
We suspect, however, given that this cake plays to all of the food processor’s strengths, that it may have been inspired by one of the free cookbooks that came with our mother’s first Cuisinart food processor. The food processor, like us, arrived on the scene, sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
How to Enjoy our Favorite Chocolate Almond Cake
The texture of this cake is very dense and moist since it is barely leavened (no baking soda or baking powder, just some eggs) and is heavy on the butter and chocolate. Since it contains almonds but not almond extract, it has a very mild almond flavor.
On extra special occasions, our mother would top this chocolate almond cake with her chocolate whipped cream. The light whipped cream is a wonderful contrast to the dense cake. The cake was photographed for its blog debut with both the chocolate whipped cream, and some royal icing flowers, but you needn’t be that fancy. It is lovely with just a dusting of confectioners sugar or a few raspberries on top. The cake’s simplicity is very much part of its charm.
This cake comes together so quickly and keeps so well (wrapped in plastic wrap and unfrosted) that it is perfect for just about any occasion, from a rainy Wednesday night that needs a little pick-me-up, to a festive family party.
Celebrating Something? Here Are Some Other Celebratory Cake Ideas
Chocolate Almond Cake
- 8 x 8 inch square pan
- parchment paper
- food processor
For the chocolate almond cake:
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole almonds
- 2 oz good quality unsweetened dark chocolate (we like Guittard, but our mother always made it with Baker’s brand)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 stick frozen butter
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp orange zest (optional)
For the chocolate whipped cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
For the chocolate almond cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper. Don’t skip the parchment paper or you will be stuck wondering why half of your very moist cake is still stuck in the pan (this seemed to happen to our mother with alarming frequency, so we know from experience).
- Place flour, salt, and almonds in the food processor and process until fine (1-2 minutes).Slice butter and chocolate into small pieces. Add chocolate and sugar and process briefly (30 seconds).Next, add the butter and continue processing until the batter forms a ball (1-2 minutes).Add eggs, one at a time. Process again. Add Grand Marnier, vanilla, and orange zest (if using).
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the the cake batter into the prepared pan.
- Smooth the top of the cake and bake in the middle level of the oven 25-30 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the pan.
- Remove cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then remove cake from pan.
For the chocolate whipped cream:
- For best results, chill the bowl and whip attachment of your stand mixer in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
- Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer and sift powdered sugar and cocoa into the cream.
- Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Place cake on your cake plate or cake stand and, using an offset spatula, frost the top of the cake with the chocolate whipped cream.
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