I was determined to try a different recipe for WG’s birthday cake this year. His birthday fell during Passover and he keeps the holiday rather strictly. I didn’t want him to miss a birthday cake, though. We asked him what kind of cake he wanted, but he left it up to us. Grandma and WG are chocoholics, but we had a bunch of passover brownies during the holiday (not to mention matzo toffee crunch). So, I decided to try to make a good almond cake, cloaked in chocolate ganache. I went hunting on the internet for a recipe, but none suited my fancy. By combining a few, I came up with something that worked for us. I think it is a winner. In fact, I would make it all year round!
Brown Butter Almond Cake
with Chocolate Orange Ganache
5 oz. almond meal (about 1 1/2 cups) – I used Trader Joe’s
1/4 cup matzo cake meal plus additional for the pan
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar, divided
5 eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring or extract (extract has alcohol, so is not strictly Kosher)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9″-10″ springform pan, buttering the inside, then “flouring” with matzo cake meal.
In a small bowl, mix together the almond meal and matzo cake meal. Set aside.
Melt butter over low heat, then, when it is completely melted, turn the heat to medium high and boil until brown bits start to form and the butter is fragrant. This can happen fairly suddenly, so watch it pretty closely or it will burn. It takes about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whip the egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar until very light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. While continuing to whip, slowly pour in the brown butter in a thin stream. Make sure that the brown bits go in!
Then, mix in the almond extract. Fold in the almond and matzo cake meal mixture.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites (clean beaters!) until frothy. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, continuing to whip until you get stiff peaks. Stir 1/3 of whipped egg whites into the yolk/almond mixture to lighten it. Then, fold in the remaining 2/3 of the egg whites.
Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool, then remove from the pan, place on a platter and glaze with the chocolate orange ganache (below).
Chocolate Orange Ganache
4 oz. (about 3/4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 3-inch long strip of orange peel (use a vegetable peeler to remove peel with no white pith)
Put chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Heat heavy cream with the orange peel in a small saucepan over low heat until it simmers. Turn off the heat and let the cream and peel cool for 10 minutes. Return the cream to a simmer. Discard the peel, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute then stir gently until the chocolate is melted. Cool slightly until the ganache is a good pouring/spreading consistency. Pour ganache on the center of the plated cake. Spread to the edges and let it dribble decoratively onto the sides.