Treat of the Week: Chocolate Almond Angel Food with Mocha Glaze

There is something so satisfying about angel food cake.  I have managed to convince myself that it's actually "good for me".  There is very little fat involved and all those egg whites are loaded with protein.  Still, I suppose moderation reigns supreme.

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Angel food cakes scare off some folks.  If you haven't made one before, I hope you will consider it.  Like many things we cover here, it can be accomplished once you have the right tools and a little information.  I promise to never present something here that you can't tackle.

Given that, I must make this disclaimer... baking is science.  There are reasons that ingredients react the way they do to temperatures, air, etc.  Trying to side step the process or outwit it can (and often does) lead to a disastrous finish.  Fortunately, so many have gone before us to make the mistakes from which we can learn.  Today's treat is no exception.  However, if you follow the instructions, the reward will be worth the effort.  The cake is light and delicate and balanced perfectly with the richness of the mocha glaze.  It's heaven.

savour... heavenly bites

Get the rest after the jump...

Chocolate Almond Angel Food with Mocha Glaze

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Before you start:

Make sure your tube pan is squeaky clean.  Wash with mild detergent before you begin.

Do not overbeat eggs.  That is the single biggest mistake when it comes to angel food cakes.  The whites should not reach stiff peak stage.

Be patient.  You will need to gently fold in the dry ingredients over 8-10 additions.  Folding must be done is such a way as to not loose all of the air that you have built up in the whites.

Invert immediately when it comes from the oven.  The cake will want to withdraw naturally.  To help it keep its shape you must help gravity work in your favor.

Many tube pans come equipped with ‘feet’ to hold the cake up over the surface for cooling.  If yours does not feet place the tube on an inverted funnel or over a bottle.

I used vanilla sugar which I had left over from another project.  If you have some that you keep around, you can reduce the amount of vanilla to ¼ teaspoon.

To serve, break cake apart with two forks.  Cutting may smash down the cake and ruin it’s delicate nature.

The ingredients:

For the cake:

  • ½ cup cake flour / 60g
  • ½ cup cocoa powder / 35g
  • ¾ cup sugar / 160g + ¾ cup / 160g more
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 ½ cup egg whites (10-12 eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 ¼ cups sliced almonds
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For the glaze:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

The method:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Dissolve espresso powder in the water
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, salt, and ¾ cup sugar.  Repeat a couple of times.  Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer place egg whites, water/espresso, lemon juice, and extracts.  Mix on low speed for 1 minute and then turn to medium speed for 4 minutes.  Your mixture should look something like rich foam.
  5. Sprinkle in sugar one tablespoon at a time while mixing on medium high speed for 2-3 more minutes.  Your batter should be at glossy soft peak stage.
  6. Remove bowl from mixer.
  7. Sift a thin layer of dry ingredients over the top of the batter and gently fold it in with a rubber spatula until the flour is incorporated only.
  8. Repeat until all of the dry ingredients have been gently incorporated.
  9. Pour almond slices into the bottom of your tube pan and distribute evenly.
  10. Pour batter into pan.
  11. Run your spatula about half way down and around the middle of the batter to release any unwanted air pockets.
  12. Smooth out the top of the batter with the rubber spatula.
  13. Bake at 350º in the bottom third of your oven for 40-45 minutes or until it passes the clean toothpick test.
  14. Remove from the oven and invert it immediately on a wire rack.  Allow to cool completely.
  15. To remove run a thin knife around the outer edge of the pan, invert and tap lightly against countertop.
  16. Top with mocha glaze.

For the glaze:

  1. Dissolve espresso powder in the water.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave or in double boiler.
  3. Add heavy cream, dissolved espresso, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla to melted chocolate and mix well on medium speed until you reach icing consistency.
  4. Drizzle over cake while warm.
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