Flourless chocolate cake with salted almond praline
Would you rather have super strength or super speed? This is a question I encounter frequently, in my travels. Usually it’s Isaac doing the asking. But there’s a trick to the question, because Isaac already has super speed
! He makes his hands rigid, like knives
, and they slice through the air, propelling him forward at a remarkable rate. Malcolm’s new favorite sartorial accoutrement is a button down shirt, usually flannel, always plaid, worn open over a t-shirt. Not because he looks cool, or it keeps him warm, but because if he holds the corners and pulls it up behind him over his head, when a slight breeze blows it feels as though he could fly. We invented a super hero called “Whatever Boy.” His power is that he’s as impervious to discomfort as a ten-year-old boy. Sub zero temperatures? He’s fine in a t-shirt. Sand in his swimsuit? Pour some more in there, he won’t mind. Soaking wet jeans? Bring them on. This was my little joke, and I left it at that, but Malcolm didn’t. He’s expanded the universe of Whatever Boy to include arch enemies, additional powers and side-kicks. All he needs now is a uniform and a theme song. I love this about my boys! I love that they see the potential in themselves and in everybody around them to have super powers. If you think about it enough, your shirt might
become a cape, and you might take off into the sky. If you see things in the world around you that are upsetting, invent a superpower to battle it, and it just might work. Of course they’re not always typically heroic powers intended for commbat with evil-doers. Sometimes they’re quite practical. Malcolm invented a scenario in which super heroes live together in a sort of dormitory, and they all have powers that come in handy around the house. There’s vacuum man and hose man and fan man and fire-starting man. Yes, they can save the world, but they can also keep a tidy house, cool you on a hot day and fill your swimming pool. Whilst walking through the woods, Malcolm and I saw a rusty oil drum. He told me that in World Tenn, a universe in which Malcolm and Isaac have different names, powers, sisters and flying dogs, the whole point
is to stop things like that from happening. He told me that when they finish writing their book I’ll know a lot more about it. I can’t wait! If you were to ask me what superpowers I’d really like to have, I’d tell you I’d like to be as glowing and funny and singing as my Isaac. I’d like to be as bright and brave and vivid as Malcolm. I’d like to have their super creativity, and their super energy, and their super generosity in seeing everyone around them as capable of marvelous powers and heroic deeds, in seeing a world where you could have any power you want, just by wanting it.
salted almond praline
This cake was gooooood! First I made a praline of salted almonds, skin and all. I keep buying salted almonds because, of course, they make a healthy snack for hungry boys. But nobody else notices they’re there, and I can’t resist them! So I decided to keep myself safe from them, and use up a few of them in a not-at-all healthy cake! Unassailable logic. So, first I made a praline of salted almonds. And then I pulverized that praline into a crumbly mess. Some big pieces, some quite small and powdery pieces. And I stirred this into a batter of ground almonds, melted chocolate, butter, strong coffee and eggs. And the result was a dense, delicious cake that I couldn’t resist! Damn. Very very good with fresh strawberries or raspberries or sliced pears and a dollop of whipped cream.
Here’s Old School by Danger Doom and Talib Kweli. I love it! And they talk about cartoon super heroes.
1 cup sugar
1/2 t lemon juice
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup salted almonds, coarsely ground in a food processor, skins and salt and all (you still want them to be quite piece-y)
Butter a small baking tray. Mix together the sugar, water and lemon juice in a medium-sized saucepan. Put it on medium-low heat, and warm until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and cook for about fifteen minutes, until the mixture is golden brown. Don’t stir at all, but you can dip a brush in warm water and brush down the sides of the pan. When it’s golden brown, take it off the heat and stir in the nuts. Spread in a thin layer on the buttered baking sheet. Leave in a cool place to set.
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup strong cool coffee
1 t vanilla extract
1 T chocolate liqueur, rum, or the liqueur of your choice
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 T cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1/2 – 3/4 cup salted almond praline, pulsed until coarse and crumbly
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 300. Butter and flour a cake pan or springform pan. I lined mine with a square of tinfoil as well, and buttered and floured that. If you’re trying to keep this gluten free, use cornstarch instead of flour.
In a small saucepan over a larger saucepan full of boiling water, melt the butter and chocolate. Stir till nice and smooth, and then take off the heat to cool for a while.
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. In a larger bowl, beat the yolks until pale yellow and frothy. Beat in the vanilla, coffee and liqueur.
Meanwhile, combine the almonds, sugar, salt and cornstarch in a processor and process until the almonds are completely ground and powdery. Add the egg yolk mixture, and continue to process until it’s as smooth as you can get it – for a few minutes.
Pour all of this back into your big bowl, and beat in the chocolate and butter. Put a large spoonful of egg whites into the batter, and gently mix it in. Then add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold them in. Pour this mixture into your prepared pan.
Bake for about 40 minutes, till it springs back slightly when you touch it, it’s pulled away from the pan a little bit, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave to cool, and then carefully remove from pan, and place upright on a pretty plate.
Melt the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in a small saucepan over a bigger saucepan of boiling water. Beat until smooth, and then spread over the top of the cooled cake. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the top. Serve with fruit and a bit of whipped cream, if you like.