I've been meaning to make this cake for months now, but whenever I make sweets they end up sticking around the apartment until they're rock solid, moldy or attract flies (that happened with the apple pie, it's gross, I know). Sunday afternoon, I had a feeling of emerging from winter, ragged and weather-beaten but still alive. Plus, I felt a little celebratory: After more than 10 years of attending my church, I finally completed the membership class to officially join. Can we say committment problem? Actually, I don't think I have committment issues; I just take it seriously. I don't want to commit, even to something small like going to a movie with friends on a Friday night, if I don't think I'll be able to follow through. So yesterday, I became the last member of my family to join West Hills, and it felt like a big deal. Like something that should be commemorated with a cake.
Yesterday was actually the 50th anniversary of the church, making it that much more special to me. The charter members (so the first people to join the church 50 years ago) came up with the new members, and I (almost teary) just thought of how thankful I am that all those people stuck with the church for 50 years--I can't even conceive of that amount of time. I am so blessed because of their faithfulness. I just love my church; it's filled with people who are so honest about their faith, which is such a rare gem these days. These people are not looking for easy answers to life's questions, and I love that. And they wouldn't care that I poured a whole cup of amaretto liqueur into this cake and served it to the high school students--not that that's at all edgy considering the alcohol was completely cooked out, but I'm sure someone out there would have scoffed.
The cake is supposed to go in a bundt pan, which I do not own. Two cake rounds worked out fine, plus I got to use the two cake stands I got for my birthday. Oh it was so good. Almost like a brownie with a crunchy crust. The almond flavoring from the amaretto really came out, and it is chocolatey in the best sense--as in not milk-chocolate sweet, but dark, bitter and complex. While I was mixing it, I kept wanting to stop after each step because the batter already tasted so good. I'm glad I went all the way.
Chocolate-Amaretto Cake: aka Boozy Cake from Orangette
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup amaretto liqueur (alternatively whiskey, bourbon or kirsch brandy)
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
powdered sugar and almond slivers for garnishing
Preheat oven to 325. Melt chocolate using a double boiler or fill a pot of water a little bit, place a glass or heat-resistant bowl in the pot, bring the water to a soft boil and melt the chocolate in the glass bowl.
In a medium-size bowl, combine the espresso and cocoa powders. Pour about a 1/2 cup of boiling water into the bowl, blend the powders until they've completely dissolved. Pour in the liqueur. Orangette recommends whiskey or bourbon, but I didn't have either (not a big whiskey fan). I love the flavor of amaretto though.
In a large bowl, mix the butter with an electric beater until creamy. Add the sugar and blend until smooth. Add each of the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla and baking soda and blend again. Pour in the melted chocolate and mixture until smooth. Pour in one-third of the boozy mixture, blend. Dump in one cup of flour, blend. Pour in half of the remaining boozy mixture, blend. Add the last cup of flour, blend. Add the last of the amaretto, blend. Transfer batter to two 8- or 9-inch cake rounds or one bundt pan--well greased all around. Bake for 55 minutes in the cake rounds or for 1 hour and 10 minutes in the bundt. Garnish with powdered sugar and almonds to fancy it up.