It rained cats and dogs all weekend at the lake. Add windy conditions and a considerable drop in the outside temperature, it seemed more like fall than summer. Stranded inside for the weekend it was a perfect time to bake. I had purchased some amaretti cookies a few weeks back for a Chocolate Amaretti Cake recipe I had intended to make for a family party which we cancelled due to a family emergency. With all the necessary ingredients waiting to become something it seemed the right time to finally tackle the recipe. It comes from Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian cookbook. It was the first time making the recipe. Based on the results I would make it again, however, with a few minor adjustments.
This is essentially a chocolate flavored flourless cake. Ground almonds and crushed amaretti cookies replace the flour and provide the structure for the cake. I am a big fan of almond flavored anything and selected this recipe expecting the nuts and cookies to deliver that rich almondy taste I like so much in pastries and desserts. No so. Chocolate is the predominant flavor though it is subtle rather than rich (using dark or bittersweet chips instead of the prescribed semi-sweet would likely enrich the flavor).
Less dense than most flourless cakes, it is quite moist and slightly fudgy, with the nuts and cookies providing texture and a satisfying slightly crunchy bite. The recipe calls for the zest of 1 orange which overpowers the flavor of the cake on the first cut, but seems to dissipate and becomes almost undetectable the next day. All in all, in spite of the fact that the almond taste I craved was not there, (I would add a teaspoon of almond extract next time) the cake is quite delicious and a great choice for a dinner party dessert. Not too sweet or rich, and simply wonderful with a good cup of coffee.
Chocolate Amaretti Cake
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup (about 2 oz. amaretti cookies)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
2/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. grated orange zest (1 orange)
4 large eggs
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T. sliced almonds
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Spread the 2 T. sliced almonds over the bottom of the pan and refrigerate.
In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate chips, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a food processor (I used a mixer instead), combine the almonds (I used sliced almonds instead slivered) and cookies, and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl. Add the butter, sugar and orange zest and blend until creamy and smooth. With the machine running add the eggs, one at a time. Add the nut mixture and the melted chocolate. Pulse until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center puffs and tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter, and sift the 2 T. cocoa powder over the top and serve.