A couple of weeks ago I mentioned being upset because of sad news from close friends who live on the other side of the world and of the equator. They used to live right next door, our children grew up together, we learned to be parents together. Today the news was confirmed and it is was much worse than I ever imagined. I can't believe they are so far, that I cannot be with them, embrace them, bring them some comfort.
Today Laura was born. This is my birthday cake to her, because this will be her only birthday and I want to celebrate it. To celebrate her life, her fleeting presence in this world. She spread love to those surrounding her without even meeting them. She is love.
Happy birthday baby Laura.
Recipe from the Joy of Baking.
1 cup (100gr) finely ground almonds
4 large eggs
7oz. (200gr.) bittersweet chocolate (I used over 70%), chopped
11 tbsp (150gr.) butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (150gr.) sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
a handful of almond slivers
If you are grinding your own almonds, preheat oven to 350° F (177° C) and place the blanched almonds on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool completely and then process until finely ground. Increase the oven temperature to 375° F (190° C) and line an 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan with parchment paper.
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Make sure they are at room temperature. Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave. Then add 1/2 cup (100gr) of white sugar to the egg yolks and beat together until pale and thick. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. Fold in the ground almonds. My batter was very dry and I worried I had made a mistake but it loosened up considerably when I folded in the egg whites.
Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup (50gr) sugar and whisk until stiff peak forms. Fold about 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it. Then quickly fold in the rest of the whites and mix only until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. The cake rises during baking but falls during cooling, leaving some cracks in the crust. Decorate with powdered sugar or almond slivers.