I love almond and dark chocolate together. I have a couple signature desserts that I have made hundreds of times for celebrations, Holidays, birthdays, weddings or other special meals. Dessert is not an everyday thing in my house but I do love it to finish off a special dinner.
Almond torte with ganache probably tops my list, along with lemon squares, carrot cake, fruit crisps, pumpkin cake or various quick breads and cookies. I am not a great baker so I like to have a few recipes that I know will turn out. Almond torte is easy to make and turns out delicious and lovely. I usually will make one well known dessert and one first time, that way in case one does not turn out, I will still have my tried and true.
That is what I did for our Easter lunch meal with my daughter's future "In-Laws". Her fiancee's extended family has graciously included us in their holiday celebrations for more than a year. It is wonderful to be a part of this big and friendly family!
I have found that this torte is best made a day or two ahead of time. It gets moister and tastes even better. This cake is called a torte because it has more ground nuts than flour in it. While the chocolate goes great with this cake, it is also great with a simple glaze, a raspberry coulis or even plain. I think it is best with a complementary flavor but even plain it is not overpoweringly almond tasting.
I have been making this so many years and changing it as I go but the idea for the plain almond cake came from a Sunset magazine 25 or 30 years ago. I am not sure how much I have altered the recipe but I want to let you know that a Sunset magazine back in the day was the original inspiration for this recipe!
Toasted Almond Torte with Ganache
1 cup whole raw almonds, toasted
3/4 cup Butter – Softened*
3/4 cup sugar
2 Large eggs
½- 1 Tsp almond extract
1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup Flour
1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
2/3 Cup+ Semisweet Chocolate, chopped squares or chips if you must. For deeper chocolate, use a square or 2 unsweetened chocolate and the rest bittersweet
½ Tsp Vanilla Extract
Toasted sliced almonds for garnish
*You may use softened coconut oil along with the butter. I used about a ½ c butter and ¼ cup coconut oil last time and it was great.
To toast almonds- You may use slivered almonds, sliced or blanched almonds if whole raw almonds are not available. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, watching carefully and stirring often, until golden inside. Cool.
Grind almonds in a blender or food processor, about a ¼-1/3 cup at a time. Grind until almonds are meduimly ground, courser than flour but careful not to grind too long or they will become paste.. You may need to stir once.
Preheat oven to 350 and butter or grease 8"-9" spring-form or cake pan, preferably with a removable bottom. Use parchment paper cut into a round to fit the bottom of your pan, especially if you are using cake pan without removable sides.
In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add extracts. Either on lowest speed or by hand, gently fold in flour and ground almonds.
Scrape mixture in buttered parchment paper lined 8"-9" spring-form or greased,lined cake pan.
BAKE at 350F for 20-25 minutes until center springs back slightly. Cool 15 minutes. If using spring-form pan, remove sides and continue to cool . Once cool, flip onto plate and peel parchment paper. If you did not use parchment paper, run a thin knife between pan bottom and cake and very carefully use spatula to remove cake to serving platter.
To prepare chocolate glaze. In a small saucepan on low heat, heat cream and add chocolate and blend. Remove from heat and stir until melted. Blend in vanilla. Pour warm glaze over cooled torte, starting at the center and working out toward the edges. Just smooth glaze with a rubber spatula to the edge of the torte, not down the sides. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds if desired.
Refrigerate until glaze is set and serve at room temperature.
Store cake in an airtight container.
Variation: You may add 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated, chopped orange zest to batter with flour, If desired.
You may top with Chocolate ganache or if preferred, make a simple glaze of powdered sugar, almond extract and a bit of water or leave cake plain. If leaving cake plain, you can sprinkle with almond slices before baking.