Recipe: Flourless Chocolate and Almond Layer Cake

Recipe: Flourless Chocolate and Almond Layer Cake

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Tami Weiser
Apr 7, 2017
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

This cake has magical synergy. With no flour at all, this delicate and tender almond cake is based on the taste of ancient recipes, yet it's made with modern cake-baking techniques. You'll bake this cake in a jelly roll pan and split it into threes to make the layers. We'll keep running with the theme of almonds with a nutty chocolate cream cheese filling. To finish, the cake is covered with chocolate ganache and toasted almonds.

The Lightest Almond Cake Around

What makes makes this cake shockingly light, delicate, and tender is the length of time spent letting whole eggs whip themselves into a thick frenzy. You'll beat them for almost seven minutes (if you've got a stand mixer, be sure to use it). To create the layers for this cake, you'll slice it into three portions of equal width — about 3 1/2 inches wide. While they cool, you'll make the filling.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

A Filling for the Season

This filling showcases almond butter, and comes together in a few minutes. It's tangy and nutty, and delicious paired with this fragrant almond cake. I suggest that you double the recipe for the spread; refrigerate it in a covered container (it will keep for up to a week); and use it on matzo during Passover, and as a dip for fruits like apples, pears, and bananas anytime of year for an after-school snack. It's a testament to all the ways almonds can deliver!

Flourless Chocolate Almond Layer Cake

Serves 8 to 10

For the cake:
Cooking spray
3/4 cup almond flour
1/3 cup potato starch, tapioca starch, or cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups whipped cream cheese
1/3 cup smooth almond butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

For the ganache and garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
Toasted slivered almonds (optional)
Chocolate shavings or curls (optional)

Make the cake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325°F. Coat a 10x15-inch jellyroll pan with cooking spray. Line the entire pan with parchment paper, making sure to go up the edges; set aside.

Place the almond flour, starch, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine; set aside. Place the butter, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a small bowl and mix to combine; set aside.

Place the eggs and egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (Alternatively, use a large bowl and electric hand mixer.) Mix on medium-high to high speed for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and gradually mix the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high to high and mix until very pale, shiny, and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes more. (You can't overmix this step, so let it go!)

Add the almond flour mixture and fold it in very gently with a rubber spatula, being careful not to deflate the eggs.

Add about 1/2 cup of the egg and almond flour mixture to the reserved butter mixture and stir well to combine. Transfer this to the remaining egg and almond flour mixture and gently fold it in with the rubber spatula. Transfer to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer.

Bake until the cake is a pale toasty-brown, a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake has started to pull away from the sides of the pan, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan; it will deflate considerably.

Fit a wire cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake crosswise into 3 even pieces each about 5 inches wide. Remove the cake pieces from the pan and place on the cooling rack.

Trim the sections so they are identical in width, making sure to specifically trim the cake on the edges or sides that are browned. Each final cake section should be about 3 1/2 by 12 inches; set aside.

Make the filling: Place the cream cheese, almond butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes.

Whisk the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a small bowl. Add to the cream cheese mixture and beat on medium-low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until very fluffy and no streaks remain, 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a large, offset spatula, spread about 1/4 of the filling on top of 1 layer of the cake as a crumb coat. (Some of the crumbs may stick a bit.) Spread another 1/4 of the filling evenly on top of that coating. The layer of filling should now be about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick.

Top with a second layer of the cake and repeat spreading the remaining filling. Top with the final layer of the cake. Refrigerate while you make the ganache.

Make the ganache: Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat just until starting to steam. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir briefly. Let sit for 3 minutes. Stir again until completely smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool until barely warm to the touch and still pourable.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour about 1/2 of the ganache over the top of the cake, making sure to cover the corners and edges well. Allow the ganache to drip down and, using an offset spatula, spread a little ganache to cover any spots on the sides that might not be fully coated. Pour the remaining ganache over the cake and allow to drip again.

Let sit for about 2 hours if you want a firmer ganache. Garnish with almonds and chocolate curls if desired before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • Almond flour: Almond flour is very fine in texture and should be skinless, without flecks of brown. If you cannot find almond flour, you can use almond meal, but process it in a small food processor along with the starch in 10-second pulses until light, dusty, and feathery first.
  • Make ahead: The cake layers can be baked and trimmed up to 1 month ahead. Stack the layers with parchment paper between each layer, then wrap well in aluminum foil and freeze. Let come to room temperature before using.
  • Storage: The assembled cake can be covered in plastic wrap after the ganache is completely set and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
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