Chocolate amaretti cake

After making a batch of amaretti cookies, I thought I'd use some of them to bake a chocolate amaretti cake.  I love it when things tie together or there's more than one good use for an ingredient. 
I remembered a chocolate amaretti cake recipe from one of Dorie Greenspan's books that I wanted to try; there was a chocolate glaze and optional almond whipped cream you could make to go with it.  But in the end I settled on a version from Giada de Laurentiis that sounded simple and appealing to me.  Everything gets blitzed in a food processor so it's very easy (as long as you have the equipment).
I had the most wonderful time making this cake because I had a special helper!!  My little guy deigned to help me, so long as it wouldn't be "too messy".  I think I've mentioned he doesn't quite share my enthusiasm in puttering around in the kitchen.  But the appeal of working the food processor hooked him in.  It's always the equipment that appeals to the boys.  He had a great time turning the machine on/off and hitting that "pulse" button to his heart's content.  Before long, he wanted to pour the eggs and everything else in and started making fun of how the egg yolks looked.  It was so much fun working in the kitchen together!
My little guy and I made a good cake!  I'm quite partial to single layer/no frosting-necessary cakes, particularly when it's moist and there's chocolate involved like in this case.  Its flavor reminds me of the holidays somehow.  I think it's the fragrance and taste of almonds mixed with chocolate (a combination I love) and the bit of orange zest infused into the whole thing.  The cake came out moist and fudgy, with a grainy, nutty texture from the amaretti as well as additional ground  almonds in the batter.  I'm craving another slice right now as I think about it.
Reading some of the reviews on this cake, I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit by adding a touch more chocolate and a dash of espresso powder to amp up the chocolate flavor.  The cake is decidedly but not intensely chocolate.  I think it helps to take it out of the oven a few minutes before you think it's fully done so that it's nice and moist inside.  We liked the result very much and for me, it's just satisfying yet light enough for everyday.  The other good thing about a cake like this is it holds well for a few days either stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.  Ours only lasted two days but I thought it tasted even slightly better on day 2.

The batter for this chocolate amaretti cake is made entirely in the food processor.  It's very convenient since you have to start by grinding 2 ounces of amaretti with a cup of silvered almonds. 
I used homemade amaretti and I toasted the slivered almonds.
Once the cookies and nuts are finely ground together, transfer it to a bowl so you can continue to make the cake batter in the food processor.  Add a stick of butter and 2/3 cup of sugar (I typically use "scant cups" or a little less than the amount of sugar specified in a recipe in most cases, including here) to the food processor bowl.  Blend the two until it looks creamy and smooth.  Add 2 teaspoons of freshly grated orange zest and pulse to combine.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. 
Next add 4 eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition.  Scrape the bowl a few times to make sure everything is incorporated evenly.  My son was operating the machinery and adding the eggs.  He did a superb job!
Once all the eggs have been mixed in, add the previously ground almond and cookie mixture and melted chocolate (I used 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, a little more than the 3/4 cup or 4.5 ounces that the recipe specifies, and I stirred in 1/2 teaspoon of instant espresso powder to heighten the chocolate flavor). 

Pulse to blend everything together.  Scrape the bowl and blend one final time.  Pour the cake batter into a greased/floured (or spray with baking cooking spray) 9-inch springform pan. 
Bake the cake in a 350 degree oven until the center puffs up and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out almost totally clean.  The recipe says about 35 minutes but I pulled mine out around 28 minutes since I wanted to make sure it would be on the moist and fudgy side.  Cool the cake in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan.  The puffed cake settles as it cools. 
You can dust the top of the cake with unsweetened cocoa powder or powdered sugar.  I added some chocolate curls and powdered sugar to mine.  I think the cake is lovely - fragrant, moist, almond and chocolaty, with a bit of orange flavor - on its own.  If you want to gild the lily, you could serve the cake with ice cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate ganache, or almond flavored whipped cream.



Recipe:

Chocolate Amaretti Cake
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

- Makes one 9-inch cake -

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 ounces amaretti cookies, homemade or storebought (about 1 cup baby amaretti)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
Scant 2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
4 large eggs
Powdered sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder to dust over cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray made for baking and use a piece of paper towel to spread it evenly around (or you could grease and flour the pan).  Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the batter.

Stir espresso powder, if using, into the melted chocolate and set aside.  Place almonds and amaretti cookies into the food process.  Process until mixture is finely ground.  Transfer the almond mixture to another bowl.  Put the butter and sugar into the food processor and blend until creamy and smooth.  Add orange zest and pulse a few times until incorporated.  Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the almond mixture and melted chocolate.  Pulse to combine.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and blend one more time to make sure everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake until center puffs up and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out almost totally clean.  This could take 30 to 35 minutes but I pulled mine out at 28 minutes to make sure the center would be moist and fudgy. 

Cool the cake in the pan for about 15 minutes.  Then remove the sides of the springform pan.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Dust the top of the cooled cake with powdered sugar or cocoa powder.


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