This isn't a traditional fruitcake, but the brandied cherries put it in the same family. One admirer remarked that this cake tastes like the chocolate-covered cherries of his youth, but with a sublime adult kick.
The recipe calls for brandied cherries, which aren't the same as maraschino cherries. They can be found at gourmet stores and online; we found several brands on Amazon.com. They're also very easy (and much cheaper) to make; recipes abound on the Internet.
When you process the nuts and chocolate, take care that you don't turn them into chocolate almond butter. Chilling both ingredients -- and even the flour, if you want to be really careful -- makes that unlikely to happen.
This cake is excellent on its own, but it wouldn't suffer if you chose to accompany it with whipped cream.
Make Ahead: The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. Freezing is not recommended.
- 6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate, chilled (about 1 1/3 cups)
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) chopped almonds, chilled
- 2 ounces (about 6 1/2 tablespoons) flour
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) sugar
- 4 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 16 ounces drained brandied cherries (see headnote)
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick oil-and-flour spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
Pulse the chocolate, almonds and flour in a food processor to grind them into a fine meal, being careful not to turn them into a paste.
Beat the butter and sugar together at high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer or held-held electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, then the vanilla and almond extracts, and beat well to combine. Add the chocolate-nut mixture and beat until incorporated.
Beat the egg whites in the separate, clean bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Use a flexible spatula to fold them into the chocolate-sugar mixture.
Spread half of the batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with the brandied cherries, which should fit evenly in 1 layer. Spread the remaining batter over the cherries, using a flexible spatula to lightly level the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake is puffed and set. Cool it on a rack and turn it out of the pan. Dust the top generously with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm or cool.
Adapted from Peter Brett, pastry chef at Blue Duck Tavern in Washington's West End.
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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