- ¾ cup natural (skin on) almonds, walnuts or toasted and peeled hazelnuts
- 1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped orange zest
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 2 large whole eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- ¾ cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3.5 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup sliced natural almonds, lightly toasted
- Orange zest, optional garnish (remove thin strips with bar zester)
- Orange liqueur flavored whipped heavy cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour and tap out excess.
Place the almonds, orange zest and 2 tablespoons of the sugar (from the 1 cup) in a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the ground almond mixture to the flour mixture until blended and set aside.
Combine the whole eggs and egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium high until frothy. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, scrapping down the bowl from time to time, until the mixture is thick and pale in color, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer on its lowest speed add the California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil in a slow steady stream, almost a dribble. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the orange juice and vanilla; gently stir with a rubber spatula until blended.
In three or four additions gently fold the flour and almond mixture into the egg yolk mixture until blended. The batter will deflate slightly. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center is feels set when pressed lightly with a fingertip, about 30 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack.
Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a knife or small spatula. Remove the sides of the pan and cool the cake on a rack. When cooled slide the cake onto a serving plate.
Chocolate Glaze: Heat the heavy cream to a boil in the microwave (about 2 minutes) or boil in a small saucepan. Add the chocolate to the hot cream and stir until chocolate is melted. Cool at room temperature until glaze is thick enough to spread. Hasten the cooling in the refrigerator but stir often to keep it from becoming solid. Use an offset spatula to spread the glaze on the top of the cake.
Garnish the rim of the cake with almonds and orange zest, if desired. Serve with a spoonful of whipped heavy cream flavored with Cointreau, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur.
Chef's Note: Use a soft, mild flavored California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil for this almond and orange-flavored chocolate cake.
Remove the orange zest with a vegetable peeler and then coarsely chop before finely chopping with the almonds and sugar in the food processor.
The impact of the sharp steel blade releases the volatile oils in the orange zest and give the cake bright fresh orange taste.
Recipe courtesy of Marie Simmons
Adapted from the James Beard and Julia Child Cookbook, Award-winning Lighter Quicker Better by Richard Sax and Marie Simmons (William Morrow, 1995)