Chocolate-Topped Almond Cake
Adapted from: Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven
Preparation time: 1 hour, 10 minutes (20 minutes of work)
Yield: 1 9-inch round (about 6 servings)

A classic Italian-style cake, this tastes best if wrapped tightly and refrigerated for 24 hours before serving. The almond flavor ripens, and the chocolate topping becomes delightfully crunchy.

A little butter and flour for the pan
3/4 cup (4 ounces) almonds, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar
A few extra almonds (slivered, blanched, and lightly toasted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. Place the almonds and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor or a blender, and grind to a powder in a few short bursts. Stir in the flour and set aside.
  3. Combine the 1/2 cup butter and the sugar with the extracts and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  4. Sprinkle the flour-almond mixture over the top of the butter mixture, and use a rubber spatula to fold it in with a few deft strokes. (Don't overmix.)
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden and the top springs back when lightly touched. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan, transfer to a plate, and cool completely.
  6. Melt the chocolate chips gently in a double boiler or in a microwave at a low power. Sift some confectioners' sugar onto the cake, and sprinkle with slivered almonds, if desired. Use a small spoon to drizzle the melted chocolate over the top in a lacy pattern or an abstract expression. Let the chocolate harden before serving.
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