This cake had a tough fight to win the Facebook Poll this week. It was neck and neck with orange drop scones until the final few seconds – it was quite exciting watching the votes come in!!! Despite almost ending up in second place it was still a very popular choice. Maybe the thought of almonds and chocolate together was just too tempting to ignore!
I've always considered cherries to be the perfect almond accompaniment; I had never considered the possibility of putting almond and chocolate together. It's always good to think outside the box every once a while, so I was looking forward to trying this hopefully delicious combination. I love almonds and chocolate, so I couldn't see what wasn't to like about it!
After a freezing cold trip to the park, I almost wished I'd kicked myself out of bed early to make the cake. It would have been lovely to have a large slice waiting to welcome me home. Alas, I am eternally lazy and I savour every second in my comfy warm bed, so that is never going to happen!!! Once through the front door I immediately turned the heating up a few notches and put on an extra pair of socks. My goodness it was cold! Just before I took my little boy up for his nap I remembered that I hadn't taken the butter out of the fridge. It would take forever to soften in these arctic temperatures. I didn't want to zap it in the microwave as I always manage to melt it, which is no good at all! In the end I decided to pre-heat the oven and place the butter on the hob above. By the time I'd taken Isaac up to bed, read a story and sung a few songs, the butter had been sitting on top of a hot oven for almost half an hour. I gingerly lifted the packet from the hob. Oh dear, it felt a bit squidgy! As I carefully peeled back the wrapper, I was amazed to find that the butter had only melted around the edges but it was very, VERY soft!!
I scraped the butter from the wrapper and into my mixing bowl; at least it would be easy to combine it into the rest of the ingredients! After adding the self-raising flour I automatically reached for the baking powder. When I checked to see how much I should need, I did a double take as it wasn't listed in the ingredients. I think this is the first 'all in one' recipe where Mary hasn't included baking powder. Not having the extra lift of a raising agent made me wonder if this cake was doomed to be as flat as a pancake. All I could do was hope for the best! Next, I moved on to adding the eggs and a good amount of sugar to the mixing bowl. Before reading through the recipe I'd assumed that I would simply use a few drops of almond essence for flavour. However, I was delighted to be using my much loved ground almonds. As I've mentioned before, I always make sure I have several packets in stock. It has become something of an obsession! The next step was the part I'd been looking forward to the most, adding in the chocolate chips. Mary says to use plain chocolate chips. By some miracle I still had half a packet tucked away but, as I required almost two packets, I'd had to pay a visit to the shop. Unfortunately they only sold the milk chocolate variety, so I was forced to use a mixture of the two. As I weighed the chocolate into the bowl I was amazed by the quantity – it was a chocoholic’s dream! I couldn't resist pinching a few of the leftovers; I am only human after all. I kept going back for more, so I had to shove the remainder into the hidden depths of our messy 'I don't know where else to put you’ drawer!! The last ingredient was a bit of a surprise. A teaspoonful of vanilla extract was required. This seemed a lot; I hoped it wouldn't overwhelm the flavour of the ground almonds.
I grabbed my electric whisk and glanced at the clock; I had to beat the mixture for two minutes. After the initial splattering of cake mix and a few escaping chocolate chips, things soon calmed down and I had a lovely smooth mixture. I wondered if it needed to be beaten for a long time to help create some lift and make up for the lack of baking powder. I scooped the thick mixture into the awaiting tin, gave it a good old sprinkling of flaked almonds and popped it straight into the oven.
The cake needed to cook for just over an hour. This seemed to me to be a long time for a relatively light cake. While it cooked I got on with other things and would have completely forgotten about it had it not of been for the gorgeous aroma wafting from the oven. It was truly a wonderful smell – one of the best yet! The cake was perhaps a little too brown by the time I extracted it from the oven but it still looked good. It appeared very wholesome; there was no obvious clue that a calorific amount of chocolate was lurking beneath the virtuous flaked almonds!
I just couldn't wait until the cake was completely cold before cutting a large slice. I'm glad I didn't resist as this cake is particularly delicious whilst still warm. The flavours were lovely, the almonds and chocolate combined beautifully. It was very sweet, but I think this was due to using milk chocolate chips instead of purely plain. The ground almonds really shone through and they also gave a denser texture. As Mary says, this is a great family cake. I have to agree. It is so easy to whip up and the whole family can enjoy it. I know mine did!!
|This cake didn't last long!!|