Ends of vacations are the worst. Though as COVID vacations go, this was a pretty good one. Erik and I spent a few days at a cabin where we could go for paddles on my stand up paddle board in the marsh. We saw lots of cool birds. We saw the wild horses at Assateague National Seashore. It’s snowing out right now. And I made these really good mini cakes, the last of which I just ate for second breakfast (first breakfast was cold pizza and a smoothie to cancel out the cold pizza).
I bought the mini Bundt pan I used for these largely with these cakes (and the rest of the mini cakes in Ottolenghi’s Sweet cookbook) in mind. And these were what I actually wanted when I made the Devil’s Food Cake on New Year’s Eve: rich, fudgy, frosted and with a fancy little praline decoration.
They look pretty fussy, but all of the different parts actually came together fairly quickly. Yes, the batter needs to rest for an hour, but use that time to make the praline and it flies right by. I made them on Friday afternoon while Erik was working, which gave me the space to make the kitchen look like this without feeling bad about it:
Plus, they kept very well at room temperature for a couple of days, and having a mini chocolate cake for each of the last three days of my vacation was a good way to end it.
Start by making the cakes. In a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, combine the butter and chocolate and whisk until fully melted.
Remove from heat and add half the sugar, the dissolved instant coffee, Amaretto, almond meal and egg yolks. Stir to combine. If you don’t have a properly big heatproof bowl to just do all in one, it’s OK to transfer the melted chocolate mixture into a big enough bowl before this step.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on high speed for about a minute, until soft peaks form.
With the mixer running, slowly add the remaining sugar and beat until still peaks form.
Spoon one dollop of this mixture into the chocolate batter and fold in gently. Then fold in the remaining egg white mixture and set aside to rest at room temperature for an hour.
After an hour, spray a mini Bundt pan liberally with cooking spray and fill each well 3/4 full. I filled all the way full because I didn’t want to waste any batter, but I think it would have been better to do 3/4 and then pour the rest of the batter into muffin tins for some less-decorative chocolate cakes.
Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Allow to rest 10 minutes in pan before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely, pan still on top of the cakes. Once cool, remove the pan.
The overflowing in mine is a result of filling more than 3/4 full. However, they did actually end up settling down during the 10 minute rest, so the didn’t end up looking this weird.
What I don’t understand is the weird hole-y nature of mine. Probably had to do with the egg whites not being fully incorporated? But if that’s the case, I don’t know why the recipe called for folding them in rather than just fully mixing them in. A mystery, but the cakes were still the dense flourless texture I wanted.
Anyways, in that hour resting time you had you could make the praline. Start by roasting the almonds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 10 minutes at 350°F, rotating halfway through. Take them out once you notice them beginning to brown.
Separately, in a small pan, heat the water and sugar over low heat until the sugar has just melted, stirring constantly.
Then increase heat to medium and bring to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture turns pale amber (or just no longer clear if you’re a scaredy cat like I am about caramel).
Remove from heat and stir in the almonds then quickly pour the mixture onto another baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a wet spatula to spread into a thin layer. Allow to cool, then break into pieces.
Finally, make the ganache. Again, I think I could have made mine a bit liquidy-er, but thick frosting isn’t a bad thing in my book.
Start by placing the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and setting aside.
In a small saucepan, cook the sugar and corn syrup over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts.
once melted, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until pale amber in color.
Remove from heat and pour in the water. The mixture will seize – return it to the heat and stir in the vanilla bean seeds until the mixture comes back to a boil.
Once boiling again, remove from heat and let sit for a minute before pouring over the chocolate. Then let that stand for 5 minutes before whisking to combine.
Whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time, and continue whisking vigorously until smooth and glossy.
Ice the cakes (or if yours was properly liquidy, spoon it over the top so you get pretty little drippings) and place a few pieces of praline on each.
Again, these look complicated, but each part really isn’t so bad. If you wanted to do these in any kind of make-ahead way, the cakes would keep well in an airtight container for a couple days, and the ganache would keep well at room temperature for about the same amount of time, so split up as you see fit.
Iced, we ate them over 3 days with no issues.
Flourless Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (160 g) unsalted butter, cubed
- 7 ounces (200 g) 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 teaspoon boiling water
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Amaretto
- 1 3/4 cups (160 g) almond meal
- 5 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (50 g) sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
- 3 ounces (85 g) 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (40 g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons (35 g) light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- First, make the cakes. In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, cook chocolate and butter, whisking constantly, until melted. Remove from heat.
- Add half of the sugar, the dissolved instant coffee, Amaretto, almond meal and egg yolks and stir to combine.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on high speed until soft peaks form, about one minute.
- With the mixer running, slowly add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Spoon one dollop of egg white mixture into chocolate batter. Fold in gently.
- Fold remaining egg white mixture into chocolate batter. Set aside at room temperature to rest for 1 hour.
- After batter has rested, spray 6 wells of a mini Bundt pan liberally with cooking spray. Spoon batter to fill each well about 3/4 full.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
- Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting pan on a wire rack to cool completely, leaving pan in place inverted. Once cool, remove pan from cakes.
- Next, make the praline. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast at 350°F for 10 minutes, giving the pan a stir halfway through. Remove once beginning to brown.
- In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture turns amber.
- Remove from heat and stir in almonds. Spread quickly in a thin layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces.
- Finally, make the ganache. Put the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium low heat, combine the sugar and corn syrup and stir until sugar melts.
- Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture is pale amber.
- Remove from heat and pour in water. When mixture seizes, return to heat and stir in vanilla bean seeds until mixture begins to boil again.
- Remove from heat and let sit for a minute before pouring over chocolate. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before whisking until smooth.
- Whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk vigorously until glossy and smooth.
- Frost each cake with ganache and add a piece of praline to decorate.