Okay…I admit it…I’m addicted to my newest cookbook. What’s not to love. This recipe was made, per another request by my roommate, after she flipped through my The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free book and found another recipe that intrigued her. Since we’re a bit stocked on gluten-free cake mixes, this is actually ideal and it gives me a bit more experience in the kitchen with cakes (not something I’ve ever been big on…eating or baking), as well as working on some new techniques.
This recipe actually involved having to slice layers of cake in half to end up with four layers. Now, I’ve never done this before, and found out yesterday that craft stores usually have a device that makes this task easy. Wish I had known that sooner. I did it the old fashioned way…very carefully with a sharp, serrated knife. And, considering my cake mix didn’t fluff up like my mix from Betty Crocker, I was quite happy with that accomplishment.
I made this recipe as close to dairy-free as possible, substituting coconut milk for low-fat sour cream, almond milk for milk, and margarine for the butter. I did, however, use heavy cream in the ganache, but if you need to make it dairy-free, you can use a dairy-free whipped topping instead of making up the ganache to frost the cake with instead.
Anyway…this cake is very, very yummy. It has a nutty chocolate taste to it, and the layers look awesome once it’s frosted and sliced into. Otherwise, my cake prior to that, looked like a hot (but delicious) mess. So, straight from The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free…I bring you this recipe.
Recipe: Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Torte
Time: Prep 45 minutes; Bake 18-22 minutes
Ingredients for cake:
- Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pans
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder or rice flour, for dusting the pans
- 1/2 cup whole shelled almonds
- 1 package (15 ounces) chocolate gluten-free cake mix (I used Cherrybrook Kitchen)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream (or substitute with coconut milk, which is what I did)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
For the filling and lemon whipped cream frosting:
- 1/3 cup almond paste (NOTE: Read the label…the stuff at Whole Foods had wheat in it. I bought a can at the grocery store that is gluten-free)
- 8 tablespoons margarine, at room temperature
- 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon milk or heavy (whipping) cream (I used unsweetened almond milk)
For the ganache:
- 8 ounces (1-1/3 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
- 3/4 cup heavy (whipping cream)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Make the cake: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist two 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with the cocoa. Shake out the excess cocoa and set the pans aside.
Place the almonds in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process them in short pulses until finely ground, 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the ground almonds to a large mixing bowl.
Place the cake mix and granulated sugar in the bowl with the almonds and stir to combine. Add the sour cream (or coconut milk if substituting), oil, water, eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and the almond extract and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are just incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.
Bake the cake layers until the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18-22 minutes. Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let the cake layers cool for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pan a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that the layers are right side up. Let the layers cool completely, about 20 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the almond paste in a small glass bowl and heat on high power in a microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. Spoon the warm paste into a medium-size mixing bowl and add the margarine. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the lumps are gone, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and milk and beat again on medium speed until the filling is smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Set the filling aside.
Make the ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a medium size stainless steel mixing bowl. Pour the cream into a heavy saucepan, place it over medium heat, and bring to a boil, stirring. Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and set the ganache aside to cool slightly. Ganache needs to be thick enough to spread like soft butter. If your kitchen is cool the ganache will reach this consistency in 10 to 15 minutes. If the kitchen is warm you can place the ganache in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 minutes to speed up the process.
To assemble the cake, using a serrated knife, slice each cake layer in half crosswise. Transfer the bottom half of one layer, cut side up, to a serving plate. Thinly spread the cut side with 1/2 cup of the filling, then place the top half over it, cut side down. Spread the top of this layer with 1/2 cup of the filling. Place the bottom of the second layer, cut side up, on top of the first layer. Spread that layer with 1/2 cup of the filling. Place the top half of the second layer on top, cut side down. Once the ganache has cooled to frosting consistency, frost the top and the side of the cake liberally with it, working with smooth, clean strokes.
Store the cake, in a cake saver, on the kitchen counter for three days, or put in the fridge.
Things I learned while making this recipe included that not every almond paste is gluten-free. READ YOUR LABELS! The same goes for vanilla and almond extract. Check the labels. Some gluten-free cake mixes bake up better than others. This is something you just learn the more you work with certain ones. I probably should have let my ganache cool a bit more. But it’s chocolate and it formed a nice layer over the cake, therefore it fulfilled its purpose. I need a better food processor. I should probably get one of those cake layer cutting thingies if I really get into this cake baking thing.
As for the taste…chocolate goodness. With just a touch of nutty flavor from the almonds and almond paste. It’s a moist, delicious, chocolate decadent treat that is just made to be sliced into and enjoyed…layer by layer. It’s a task to assemble, but honestly…worth all the hard work in the end.