Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chocolate Almond Upside Down Cake

Christmas Eve dessert! I have had this cake bookmarked in my recipes for a few years now so when I was searching for our Christmas dinner dessert I gave my son the choice between this and a chocolate-praline torte that I made many years ago before he ever joined our family. At first he chose the torte, but then he quickly switched over to this and wouldn't be swayed. The two recipes were very similar, one was more of a two layer cake with whipping cream in between the layers (I bet you can tell that was the other one). I was surprised by his choice because I thought he would go for the whipping cream layers, but I think he was drawn to the almonds. Granted, both cakes have almonds but he couldn't see them in the other cake under the layers of white.

What I love about this cake, and the other, is the taste and texture of the moist cake with the chewy praline topping and crunch of the almonds. It is the perfect combination of soft, chewy, and crunchy in one satisfying bite. I am definitely glad I made this and can finally get it off my bookmarked "to do" recipes. Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Upside Down Cake
Source: Martha Stewart

Caramel Topping:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups sliced or slivered almonds, lightly toasted

1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self rising) 1/2 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Prepare the topping:
Generously butter a 10-inch round nonstick cake pan. Pour 6 tablespoons melted butter into the cake pan and swirl to coat the bottom; sprinkle in brown sugar. Drizzle honey over sugar and sprinkle evenly with almonds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the cake:
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together three times to make the cake extra light. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and continue mixing. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add half the buttermilk and continue mixing. Add another third of the dry ingredients, mix, and add remaining buttermilk and vanilla. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake until set in the center and springy, 45 to 55 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and immediately invert the pan onto a serving platter. Let it sit with the pan still on top for 5 minutes so the caramel can soak into the cake a bit, before removing the pan. If the topping is sticking to the pan, warm the pan surface over a low burner to loosen the caramel and then pour it over the cake. Let cool completely. Cut into wedges with a serrated knife.