Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Chocolate Almond Mary Ann Cake

Servings: 12-16
Laced with semisweet chocolate chips, this luscious cake is topped with ganache, a rich, smooth mixture of melted chocolate and cream. A sprinkling of toasted almonds adds the finishing touch. The cake will keep at room temperature for up to 4 days; store under a covered cake dome.

Mary Ann Pan?
First introduced in the United States in 1921, “Mary Ann’s Cake Shell Pans” were designed to bake light cake shells to hold everything from fresh fruit to rich custards. The Mary Ann pan produces one round cake with fluted sides and an inverted well for spooning in whipped cream, fruit curds, custard, fresh fruit or even ice cream.

It seems that Williams-Sonoma is no longer carrying the Mary Ann cake pans but you can now find them at Amazon.com or at Crateandbarrel.com

For the Cake:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups boiling water
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz/170g) unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the Ganache:
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Grease a Mary Ann cake pan* (see note below on where to buy pan) and dust with cocoa powder.

To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 3/4 cup cocoa, the sugar and boiling water. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs and vanilla. Pour into the cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in the flour mixture in two additions. Pour the batter through a fine-mesh sieve into the prepared pan and stir in the chocolate chips.

Bake until the cake springs back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Tap the pan gently on a work surface, invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, then slowly whisk until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes before using.

Pour the ganache into the well of the cake. Using an offset spatula, spread evenly. Sprinkle the almonds in a 1-inch-wide band around the outside edge of the ganache. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes to set the ganache.

Makes 12-16 servings.

*Note: Mary Ann Cake pans can be purchased at Amazon.com or at Crateandbarrel.com

Source: Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
Date: April 12, 2005