If you have ground almonds in your freezer, it takes almost no time to prep. But don’t rush the baking and final steps: it is important to bake the cake until it is dark golden-brown for the best texture, and to sprinkle a layer of chopped almonds on the serving plate so that the bottom of the cake doesn’t stick to the plate.
This recipe calls for two kinds of almonds, unpeeled sweet whole almonds and Marcona almonds from Spain, but you can use all sweet almonds if that’s what you have on hand. In that case, sprinkle a little more flaked salt over the top of the cake since Marcona almonds are already salted and fried in oil when you buy them. To highlight the taste of the olive oil in the cake, use one of the more pungent varieties. Just make sure you select oil that you really like, since you will taste it even after the cake is baked.
Chocolate, Orange, and Almond Olive Oil Cake
Makes one (8 1/2 -inch) Cake, 8 to 10 servings
- 3/4 cup organic all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/2 cup ground roasted unpeeled whole almonds, divided
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/3 cup fruity olive oil, such as arbequina
- Finely grated zest of 2 large oranges, preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 recipe Chocolate Orange Glaze (recipe follows)
- 1 ounce Marcona almonds, coarsely chopped (or use more whole almonds chopped and sprinkled with sea salt)
- Flaked sea salt, for serving (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350°F. Oil the cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment circle. Do not oil the parchment.
Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and baking powder to the strainer and stir with a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the ground almonds and stir with a wire whisk to combine and aerate the mixture.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange juice, oil, zest, vinegar, and vanilla and almond extracts until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Rotate the pan to level the batter and tap it lightly on the counter. Bake for 43 to 45 minutes or until the cake is dark golden-brown, the sides have started to pull away from the pan, and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. The cake will have risen considerably, but will become more compact as it cools.
Place the pan on a wire rack. Carefully run a thin knife between the cake and the inside of the pan. Cool for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper. If the bottom of the cake feels very wet, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the reserved ground almonds, pressing lightly so they adhere. Cool the cake completely without inverting it. Make the glaze while the cake cools.
Assemble The Cake
Sprinkle a serving plate with the remaining ground whole almonds. The almonds will keep the moist cake from sticking to the plate. Slide a 9-inch cardboard cake board under the cake and gently slide the cake off the board onto the plate. It will be bottom side up.
Drizzle or spread the Chocolate Orange Glaze on top of the cake and sprinkle with the Marcona almonds. Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set.
Slice the cake cold but serve at room temperature with the optional sprinkling of flaked sea salt. Drizzle the plates with olive oil if using.
I like the texture and flavor of the cake best the day it is made, but the cake will hold overnight at room temperature loosely wrapped in parchment. The cake freezes well for up to one month with no loss of flavor, but do not add the chopped nuts until the cake is defrosted. Wrap the cake tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and slip it into a large zipper-lock bag. Defrost the cake unwrapped. Refrigerate the glaze in a covered container for up to three days. Allow the glaze to return to room temperature before using.
Chocolate Orange Glaze
Makes 2/3 Cup
- Finely grated zest of 1 large organic orange
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
- 3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (70 to 72%), very finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Combine the zest, orange juice, and chocolate in a small saucepan. Cook over the lowest heat until the chocolate begins to melt. Remove from the heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the glaze is smooth.
Recipes reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, (Running Press 2013). Photo credit: © Kate Lewis