Almond cake with blackcurrants, cherries and bittersweet chocolate

Almond cake with cherries, black currants and bittersweet chocolate

Almond cake with cherries, black currants and bittersweet chocolate

We’re watching L’eclisse at the moment, so today I’m going to wander around town in low-heeled but surprisingly noisy shoes, looking serious and wistful but bursting into laughter at life’s absurdities. Also, it’s my birthday, so I’m going to claim birthday privilege and write the most nonsensical rambling post ever. First of all, here’s a scene from L’eclisse that I like a lot. We haven’t watched the whole film so I’ll reserve judgement, but this scene I found surprising and beautiful.

Second of all, let me tell you about my lunch. I’m very excited about it. It was: a saltine cracker topped with brie, avocado, tomato, castelvetrano olives and lots of black pepper. I don’t usually eat lunch, but I’d been thinking about brie and avocado for a while now, and I had to try it. Everything tastes good on a saltine cracker.


Finally, I’ll admit that this birthday is a hard one. 45. The only good thing you can say about turning 45 is that it’s better than not turning 45. For some irrational reason, birthdays ending in five or zero are harder than any other birthdays. So I’ve been in a blue mood all week. And then one evening after dinner the boys and I walked to the store to buy ice cream novelties. I was feeling heavy and tired and discouraged. We walked through a big open space in town, and Malcolm said, “Mom! Sky Dive!!” He grabbed my hand and flung his other arm out. Slowly, I caught on, and stretched my arm out, and then he took Isaac’s hand and Isaac stretched his arm out. We were flying and buoyant and weightless in the sweet air of a perfect June evening. And I feel alright, I feel grateful for all of it, for everything.

Almond cake with blackcurrants, cherries and bittersweet chocolate

Almond cake with blackcurrants, cherries and bittersweet chocolate

Our blackcurrant bush is bonkers. Full of fruit. You pick a bowlful in the morning, and it’s completely laden again in the evening. The berries seem to ripen as you pick them. So I boiled them for a long time with lots of sugar, and then pressed them through a sieve and ended up with a thick beautiful sauce. I added this to a custard one night and made ice cream. And yesterday I made a cake. I made a soft almond cake, and put a layer of blackcurrant sauce, fresh bing cherries and bittersweet chocolate chips. The whole thing is tart/sweet/soft and juicy. You have to eat it with a fork, though, cause it’s delightfully messy.

Here’s Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. Sounds like a June day, doesn’t it?

6 T very soft unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 t vanilla
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup black currant sauce or jam
1 cup cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly butter a cake pan.

In a food processor process the butter till soft and fluffy. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and process until smooth and frothy. Add the almonds, flour, salt and baking powder, process until fairly smooth.

Pour half the batter into the cake pan. Spread the jam, cherries and chocolate chips in the middle, leaving about an inch to the edge. Pour the rest of the batter over the top.

Bake 20 – 25 minutes until puffed and golden and springy. Let cool, slice, and serve.


4 thoughts on “Almond cake with blackcurrants, cherries and bittersweet chocolate

  1. Happy happy happy birthday Claire! Don’t let the number get you down. I think 45 is a pretty number. All cornflower-blue and magenta. xoxo

  2. Happy 45, Claire! I agree, it is a pretty number. I have happy memories of 45, now almost 15 years ago!

    You have a currant bush!? Wow! Can I see? I bought frozen currants from NW Wild Foods because I wanted to taste them. They have a funky flavor! Kinda juniper berryish.

    This morning Doggies and I were dancing to your Nina Simon link. Thanks and cheers.

    • Thank you, Diane!

      And good heavens, come and get some blackcurrants!! You can pick them yourself or we can pick them for you, or you can have some of the syrup that is currently boiling away on my stove! They do have a funky flavor, almost acrid. But I love it!

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