Sometime over the last few years, I really started to enjoy cooking. It was no longer an intimidating task where I measured success by whether or not Chip was able to consume the meal, but became a de-stressor at the end of the day. I actually looked forward to meal planning each week and would proudly watch Chip serve himself seconds (hint: it helps if you serve small portions to anyone who wants this ego boost).
My mom has pretty much always enjoyed cooking, but apart from holidays at home, we really haven’t spent much time together in the kitchen. For Mother’s Day, I decided to change that. We had always talked about someday tackling Julia Child‘s recipes, so I gave her Julia’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking with the goal that we will do a couple of recipes whenever she’s in town. We’ve already done two main dishes and two desserts and they’ve been delicious. I thought it would be fun to share some of these recipes and see how long it takes us to get through this ginormous book. It definitely won’t be a year-long project like in the movie Julie and Julia; for one, we’re not in the same city enough to do that and secondly, having that much butter in such a short span of time goes straight to your hips.
The first time we cooked from this book, we made pork chops with mustard, cream, and tomato sauce as our main dish, did our own simple veggies, and had a chocolate and almond cake for dessert. We were inspired to choose this first dessert based on this scene from the movie Julie and Julia. Y’all. I want to make that cake again right now just thinking about it. So. Good. If you’re looking for a rich, yummy dessert and don’t care about calories, look no further!
Chocolate and Almond Cake with Chocolate-Butter Icing:
- 4 ounces/squares semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons of rum or coffee (we went with rum)
- 1/4lb. or 1 stick of softened butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon sugar (in addition to sugar listed above)
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup pulverized almonds (use a food processor or blender for this)
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
- 2 tablespoons rum or coffee (again, we went with rum)
- 5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (way to go, Julia)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
- Set the 4 ounces of chocolate and 2 tablespoons rum/coffee in a small pan, cover, and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe.
- Cream 1/4lb butter and 2/3 cup sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture. Beat in the three egg yolks until well blended.
- In a separate bowl, beat the three egg whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on 1 tbsp of sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
- With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds and almond extract. Immediately stir in one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated. Note: this was way easier to do with two people than it would have been on our own.
- Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a cake tester plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a cake tester comes out oily.
- Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on a cooling rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold it if is to be iced.
- Place the 2 ounces of chocolate and 2 tablespoons rum/coffee in a small pan, cover, and set in a larger pan of almost simmering water. Remove pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth. life chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over a bowl of ice and water until the chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency (this took a while for us….). At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife.