Almond Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Almond Pound Cake2

I’ve struggled for years to find a pound cake recipe that results in a cake that has the right texture and level of moistness. Then I stumbled across this recipe in one my old cookbooks from Williams-Sonoma and I instantly fell in love. (“Williams-Sonoma Holiday Entertaining” – page 206 – “Almond Pound Cake with Cherry Glaze”) Because the cookbook is quite old you can’t find it new anymore however, if you’d like a copy for yourself you can click the image below to find some used copies available through various sellers on Amazon.

The original recipe calls for the pound cake to be served with a cherry glaze (see recipe below) which is absolutely delicious but this time around I decided to take the cake into a different direction. Instead of the cherry glaze I covered the pound cake in a chocolate ganache so that it took on a similar flavor to one of my favorites, rainbow cookies! Because I was bringing this cake to a late holiday get-together I used Christmas colored sprinkles to decorate but of course, feel free to use any color sprinkles that you have on hand.

What I like most about this cake is that there are various ways to make and serve it, all of which are equally yummy. If you want a lighter cake, try dusting it with some powdered sugar instead of the ganache or cherry glaze. If you prefer a more traditional pound cake flavor, you can easily replace the almond extract with pure vanilla extract. Also, don’t be afraid to try other flavored extracts as well, there are so many awesome ones to choose from such as brandy, hazelnut, and coconut! This is truly a great “base cake” that lends itself to so many other flavor options and presentations! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (235 grams) sifted cake flour (sift the flour FIRST, then measure)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (315 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (500 grams) granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz.) buttermilk*
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract

*If you do not have buttermilk, make your own.  Measure out 1 cup of milk and add to it 2 tbs of vinegar or lemon juice.  Let stand 5-10 minutes and then it will be ready to use.  It will not be as thick as store bought buttermilk but it will work just the same in recipes.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a bundt pan and dust lightly with flour, shake out the excess.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until creamy and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, one-third at a time, alternating with one-third of the buttermilk. Combine thoroughly after each addition. Lastly, beat in the almond extract.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan then gently tap the pan to release any air bubbles. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes depending on the size/shape of bundt pan.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes. Then, slip a knife between the cake and the pan to loosen any stuck edges and turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Cool completely. Drizzle with the chocolate ganache and cover in sprinkles.

To store, cover loosely and place in a cool, dry place. This cake can be made a day ahead of serving as well.

Cherry Glaze

  • 1 cup (125 grams) dried cherries
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz.) port wine
  • 2 tbs granulate sugar
  • 1 jar (8 oz.) cherry preserves

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the dried cherries, port wine and sugar and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the preserves, reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 6-7 minutes. Let cool slightly. Drizzle the cooled cake with the cherry glaze or serve on each individual slice. If making the glaze ahead of time, allow to cool completely, cover, and keep in the fridge. Reheat with 1-2 tbs of water.

Rocky Road Layer Cake

Rocky Road Cake 1

This past Father’s Day I wanted to make my husband an extra special, over the top cake to celebrate so I decided on this amazing Rocky Road Layer Cake. It was every bit as delicious as it looks and it was so decadent too! I found this recipe on the Preppy Kitchen blog, the original recipe along with step-by-step pictures can be found here: Rocky Road Cake .

While no one part of this recipe was what I consider to be hard to make, overall it was a time-consuming cake to pull together. You have to first bake the cakes and cool them, make the filling, make the ganache and then assemble it all. The recipe calls for the layers to be baked in three 6X2″ pans however, I used the Wilton 2105-0112 Easy Layers! 5-Piece Cake Pan Set, 6-Inch and they worked out great. There is enough batter to make a full five layers for this cake however, during assembly I only used four. At that point it was tall enough and adding the last layer would’ve made the cake a little too unstable so I just set the extra layer aside.

Before assembling the cake make sure to trim the tops of the layers so that you have a flat surface. If there is any curvature to the layers the cake will be unbalanced and unstable. Also, do not overfill the layers or you will find that they slip and slide too much which will also effect the structure of the cake. After assembling the layers I ended up with extra ganache and filling which you can store in the fridge to use for another recipe. Once the cake was complete, I immediately placed it into the fridge to chill and set-up. Because it was also hot outside I decided to leave the cake in the fridge until it was served, I found that allowing it to sit at room temperature caused the chocolate and filling to begin to soften.

To keep the layers moist, you can brush each layer with simple syrup before adding the filling. To make a simple syrup simply combine equal parts water and granulated sugar. Warm on the stovetop until the sugar melts and you’re left with a syrup. Cool slightly and then brush directly on the cake using a pastry brush.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 13 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • tbs coffee
  • tbs vanilla paste
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • cup cocoa

For the Ganache

  • cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

For the Buttercream

  • 2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut chocolate (Nutella™), melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • lb unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 6-by-2-inch cake pans.

  2. In a small bowl mix together the buttermilk, sour cream coffee and vanilla paste.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  4. In a the bowl of a standing mixer beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in flour mixture and buttermilk in three alternating batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

  5. Mix just until almost combined. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom and complete the mixing.

  6. Divide batter between pans, smooth tops. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in pans 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the Buttercream

  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt and melted chocolate. If buttercream is a bit thick you can add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to thin it out.

For the Ganache

  1. Scald the cream in a small saucepan over medium. Bring it just to a boil then pour over the semisweet chocolate. Let sit for two minutes then whisk until smooth. Reserve about 2/3 a cup of the ganache for the drip. Mix in the walnuts and fold in the marshmallows once cool.

To Assemble

  1. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the top edge of the first layer. Use a spatula to fill the center with the ganache. Place the next layer on top and repeat. Cover the outside with buttercream and smooth.

  2. Drizzle the ganache on top of the cake. If it’s thickened then you can mix in a bit more cream and zap in the microwave for a few seconds at 50% power.

  3. Pile the extra rocky road mixture on top of the cake and then press in a few extra marshmallows and walnuts and give a final light drizzle of chocolate.

Rocky Road Cake 2

“How-To” Baking – Chocolate Ganache

Making chocolate ganache is a very simple task that you’ll be glad you mastered as it’s an incredibly versatile accompaniment to many desserts and baked goods. While warm, it’s a fantastic pourable glaze however, once it cools and thickens, you can also use it as a frosting, fudge filling, or even to make truffles! My “go to” recipe for ganache is from the “Williams-Sonoma Mastering” cookbook series. Get it here:

 Williams-Sonoma Mastering: Cakes, Frostings & Fillings

Ingredients

  • 8 oz (20 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 ml) heavy cream, plus more to adjust consistency
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

If using chocolate bars, chop the chocolate with a serrated knife.

Heat the butter and cream over medium low heat. Heat until the butter has melted and tiny bubbles have formed along the edges of the pan, about 2 minutes. Do NOT allow the mixture to boil or it could scorch which will make the ganache taste burnt.

Remove the pan from the heat and add in the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit in the hot cream mixture to soften, about 30 seconds to a minute.

Using a whisk, mix the ganache until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Let the ganache cool to the desired texture and it’s ready to be used as follows:

  • To use as a smooth pourable fudge sauce, use right away
  • To use as a pourable cake glaze, allow to cool for 10-15 minutes
  • To use as a thick fudge filling, allow to cool for 1-2 hours
  • To use as a frosting for cakes/cupcakes, allow to cool completely

**Tip** – If your finished ganache looks broken or curdled, heat it again over a double boiler and let it melt down. Chill for 30 minutes in the fridge and whisk it to bring it back to the desired consistency.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with a Ganache Drizzle

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