Chocolate Almond Cake

Some people seem to be under the impression that I never have kitchen fails.  Believe me, just like everyone else, I have my fair share.  Granted, they have become fewer and farther between with my increasing experience in the kitchen, but they still happen nonetheless.  This cake was born of a major kitchen fail.  Someone at work had a big birthday that slipped under the radar and some sneaky investigation revealed that a chocolate almond cake would have been his cake of choice.  Fine, great, I was on it.  Except my extensive internet searching really didn’t turn up the sort of recipes I was hoping for, and none from sources that I count as reliable.

Eventually I found something that seemed like it could work, but the cake was way too small for our needs.  I doubled the batter, baked it in a springform, and hoped for the best.  Unfortunately the type of cake I had chosen is one where the usual toothpick test for doneness simply doesn’t work.  The cake appeared totally done from the outside and came out of the springform beautifully but in attempting to transfer it to a platter, it fell quickly to pieces.  It was underdone and inedible.  And, it was 9:00 pm the night before I needed it.  I may have said a few choice words and even shed a tear or two, but I was still determined to make a chocolate almond cake.  I did some quick thinking and searching based on the ingredients I had on hand, and within minutes I had a new game plan.

One of the best things about Bundt cakes is that they are simple to whip up and look pretty when all is said and done.  So, I jazzed up a basic chocolate Bundt with some almond extract, topped it with ganache and sliced almonds and finally I had a product I could live with.  And you know what?  I think this turned out much better than the original (much more complicated) cake would have.  That little bit of almond extract in the cake gave it a great flavor and I had people asking all day what special ingredient I had added to make it taste so good.  Thankfully something good came of the disaster cake endeavor.

Chocolate Almond Bundt Cake
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For the cake:
2¼ cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1½ cups sour cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

For the ganache:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup

For garnish:
Sliced almonds

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla and almond extracts.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating each addition just until incorporated.  Mix in the melted chocolate just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the batter evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.  Let cool in the pan 10 minutes.  Invert onto a cooling rack and gently remove the cake from the pan.

To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.   Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in small circular motions until the mixture is well blended and the ganache is smooth.  Stir in the corn syrup.  Drizzle the ganache over the cooled cake and garnish with sliced almonds before the glaze sets.

Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma

42 Responses

  1. This cake looks great! Thanks for sharing your story with us, it makes you look almost-human. 🙂 I don’t know how you do everything you do but you’re my hero!

  2. oh my….not nly does this cake look amazin but the recipe sounds super delicious! i must try it. and an intelligent approach you took on after a kitchen fail. very good result!

  3. The cake looks great. I love Bundt cakes…I’ve had many kitchen failures…more than I care to even think of!

  4. i’m glad your failure in the kitchen lead to somethimg much for fantastic! this cake looks delicious and elegant! i love the flavor that almond extract gives to desserts, and of course i adore chocolate, so i will definitely be baking this cake soon!

  5. This cake looks amazing. Pretty picture!

  6. I was just thinking this morning that I needed a fun chocolate dessert for our Girl’s Night next week…. this will be perfect!

  7. Oh thank you for sharing a fail story. I try so hard to be a good cook but I can’t tell you how many times I have set off the fire alarm. My husband and I have a joke that we know dinner is done when the fire alarm goes off. But I keep on trying!

  8. Wow – this sounds delicious! Love the almond extract in the cake batter…we’re suckers for that stuff…and this cake is gorgeous!

  9. Just amazing! I look forward everyday to your adventures in the kitchen.

  10. I think I’ll have to make this for my Christmas dessert! Beautiful!

  11. I love almonds. This recipe sounds so good! I mess up in the kitchen all the time, hehe.

  12. Very cool. I also used my bundt cake yesterday for a rum cake. I do to love them, like you said, very easy to put together which is my kind of thing :-). The cake looks delicious by the way 🙂

  13. I too had a massive cake failure when my substitution for cake flour resulted in my devil’s food cake crumbling when I took it out of the pan. Since I’m not a classy gal, I proceeded to cry and curse. My boyfriend moved me aside and swept the debris into a ziploc bag, which we snaked on for a week. Thus, Bag Cake was born.

  14. This cake looks and sounds amazing! I love almonds, so will definitely have to give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Bundt cake to the rescue! I love them too! Impressive looking and delicious!

  16. Your cake looks delicious! Good to know everyone has kitchen disasters!

  17. Worth a victory strut around the kitchen I think. 😉 Beautiful and I love the way the topping looks.

  18. Lovely cake! I won’t even mention the MANY kitchen failures I’ve had or recipes that didn’t “fail” but I hated. To make it more almondy, you could probably swap out 3/4 cup of flour and replace it with 3/4 cup almond meal. I’ve done that before and it turns out well. Good save!

    • Yeah, the failure cake had ground almonds in it so after that, I wasn’t really in the mood to use them again 🙂

  19. Looks absolutely beautiful!

  20. Annie, this is such a beautiful cake. The almonds almost have the appearance of petals on top. Just lovely! I bet it tastes wonderful, too. Thanks for sharing the little story about your flop – None of us are professional chefs, we all make mistakes!

  21. Oh I feel for you! I think I would have given up! Your second try is beautiful!

  22. Kitchen fail turns into kitchen WIN! This cake is beautiul. Finally I can do something with my almond extract and bundt pan that always get passed over.

  23. This cake totally makes up for any kitchen flubs! Cheers to you for looking on the bright side and turning it around!

  24. This is the most beautiful bundt cake I’ve seen!

  25. This looks so yummy! It actually resembles the chocolate almond cake from Julie & Julia a lot! (I don’t know if you’ve seen that movie, but she makes one that looks sort of likes yours!). 🙂

  26. What an elegant looking cake that is! You did a fine job pouring the ganache and the distribution of sprinkling almonds. Eating a cake like that right now would be felicity! Thanks for the inspiring holiday recipe! Looks like a must.

  27. This looks absolutely delicious.. i had to have known this post was from annies eats 🙂
    the chocolate almond combo is one of my favorite, nuts and chocolate is a no brainer!

  28. Love the presentation of this bundt! Sometimes mishaps do happen for a reason! This bundt was just meant to be!

  29. I was just looking for a chocolate cake to bake for a birthday celebration this weekend, so it is so perfect that you posted this! Thanks for another great recipe!

  30. Ok. I have a question. I’m not a big chocolate fan, but I have to know how you managed to get such a good photo after 9pm, indoors, in Indiana, with daylight savings time?? I am against a blogger brick wall with photography right now, since it is pitch black outside at 5 pm when my dinner dish is prepared! What special lighting equipment do you use?

    • Normally, I use a SpeedLite with great results. This photo was taken the following morning with natural light.

  31. We all have failures in the kitchen! Sometimes it looks good, tastes terrible. Other times it tastes great, looks awful.
    You did a great job of improvising a new recipe. It looks marvelous and I bet everyone loved it!

  32. It’s amazing how u came out with such a beautiful second cake after the first failure! And a more delicious one at that! Well done!

  33. Looks delicious! Good for you for not giving up after an initial setback!

  34. A delectable way to take on the winter!

  35. I have a similar mess-up baking experience the other day, I’m excited to get back into the kitchen and fix my mistakes. This looks delicious! And beautiful, to boot 🙂

  36. This looks so heavenly! Love the beautiful pic!

  37. Hey Annie, I am serving this cake on Tuesday night. I was planning to bake the cake Monday. When would you recommend that I do the ganache and almonds? Monday after the cake cools, or sometime Tuesday (and if so, how soon ahead of time)? Thanks!

  38. I just wanted to let you know that I made your Chocolate Almond Bundt Cake this weekend and everyone loved it! Thanks for the great cake idea!
    I posted about you and your recipe with a link to your blog here… I hope that was okay?

  39. i made the cake this weekend and it was delicious. dense and rich. delicious. easy as pie…but it’s cake!

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