Time for dessert with the best chocolate cake in the world or at least from my childhood, my Grandma’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cake! It’s flourless thanks to using ground almonds, which not only give the cake a top texture but also add a delish flavour. It’s moist and has a crinkle top, like the one of a good brownie. The best part? It’s easy to put together. You can serve it without any decoration at all since the sponge itself is already to die for, but if you want to give it a final touch in order to dress it a bit more, you can dust some cocoa powder on top.
A Short Story on This Cake
My paternal grandfather was my godfather, however, the one who acted as my godfather was really my grandmother. For Easter, it’s a tradition here in Catalonia that the godfather gives an Easter cake to his godchild, but it was always my grandmother who made one for me. Specifically, she made me this Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond cake every year :).
It was her first recipe that I wrote down, back when I was 9 or 10 years old, and I still have it! She would cover the cake with chocolate, which she would melt with a little butter, and when it had cooled down a bit and gained consistency, she would slide a fork side to side so that it would be decorated with stripes. What I really liked though was the interior. I love a good chocolate-nut combo, actually, it’s how I love to eat chocolate the most. That’s why today I am bringing this cake to you with just a delicate layer of cocoa powder as a topping, I want the interior to shine!
Key Factors to Succeed with This Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cake Recipe
Good Quality Chocolate
Chocolate is the star of this recipe, and as such, it should be of good quality. You don’t need a very expensive one, but we do have to avoid those very cheap ones since the flavour of the cake will largely depend on it.
This recipe calls for dark chocolate, ideally 55% to 70%. The higher the percentage, the more cocoa that chocolate will have, and more than 70% could make the cake a tad drier. I personally like 55% to 62% because it gives it a light chocolate flavour, it’s not bitter at all and it doesn’t make it heavy.
Properly Whipped Egg White
It’s important to whip the egg whites very well to stiff peaks. This is what gives volume to the cake, since it doesn’t call for any rising agents such as bicarbonate of soda or baking powder. Here you have some tips to ensure they are properly whipped:
Freshness of the eggs
- Use as fresh eggs as possible. Fresh egg whites whip up faster and are more stable than “old” eggs.
- When you separate the whites from the yolks, make sure that no yolk falls into the bowl of the whites. If the egg is cold, it’s easier to separate the white from the yolk, but to whip the white (and beat the yolks with the sugar) it’s better if it’s at room temperature.
Equipment to use
- Use a clean, dry bowl. It’s of utmost importance that there’s no fat trace, since this prevent the egg whites from whipping up. If you want, you can clean the sides of the bowl with a little vinegar or lemon juice (I prefer to clean them very, very well though, since I find that using vinegar or lemon leaves a bit of flavour).
- Preferably use a glass or metal bowl. Personally, I find that in the plastic ones, the egg whites have more difficulties with whipping up. In addition and in relation to the previous point, it’s easier to wash the fat out from a glass or metal bowl.
- Use clean and dry blade beaters, for the same reasons as explained above for the bowls.
Whipping the egg whites
- Add a pinch of salt. My grandmother always did it, because experience said so. Now I have learned that from a scientific point of view salt helps to stabilize the egg whites and to maintain their volume once they are whipped.
- Start beating on low speed, and once foam has formed, increase it to medium. Whisking progressively and from low speed helps with the stability of the egg whites.
- Whip the egg whites just until they have taken on volume and if you tilt the bowl they don’t slide down the sides of the bowl (in fact, if you turn the bowl upside down, the egg whites should remain stuck to the bottom and not fall off).
Adding the egg whites to the batter
- It’s very important to add the whites in a folding fashion. Before adding the egg whites to the batter, the batter can be quite thick, so you can add the first heaped tablespoon of whites without being so careful, just to loosen the batter. Then fold the rest gently into the mixture, running the spatula along the bottom of the bowl and then up and over the batter and whites.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC and when you put the cake in it decrease the temperature to 170ºC. My grandmother explained to me that this was so that the cake would have a “heat shock” that would make it rise and then that we had to decrease the temperature so it would properly bake on inside, the wisdom of grandmothers! Cause this technique is very common in professional confectionery for sponge cakes that use egg whites as the rising agent.
- As I always say, there is no better friend when baking than having an oven thermometer, especially if you have an old oven (like the one in my rental apartment, which, poor thing, sometimes has had a 30ºC difference between what the thermometer says and what the temperature wheel…).
- If you are after a set and moist result, I recommend baking the cake for at least 30 minutes. Do not open the oven before this time because it could make the cake deflate. In my case, I bake it for exactly 35 minutes, which gives me a set interior but at the same time moist, like the texture of a good brownie. In this case, if you do the toothpick test, you should get some crumbs stuck to it when you take it out, but there shouldn’t be any traces of raw batter. The longer you leave it in the oven, the drier it will be and the cleaner the toothpick will come out. And well, as always, the exact baking time will largely depend on our oven.
If you keep these tips in mind, I assure you that you will bake a spot on chocolate almond cake! And what’s more, it’s worth having this gluten-free chocolate almond cake recipe in your repertoire in case you have intolerant or celiac friends over.
How to Make Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cake?
This chocolate almond cake recipe is very easy to make. If you take into account the tips above, it will come out perfect!
Start with whipping the egg whites with a pinch of salt till they reach stiff peaks and set aside. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they have lighten up and increased their volume. At this point, if you lift the beaters, the batter should fall in a wavy fashion (it’s called ribbon stage). Then add the melted chocolate with the almonds.
I like to buy whole almonds – raw and no skin – and process them until they look like what you can see in the photo below. Some almonds would have turned into almond meal, but some will remain a bit bigger. I personally love finding these small almond pieces when I take a bite of the cake. If your after a smooth texture, you can use almond flour or almond meal, you can either buy it or process the whole almonds until there are no little pieces left.
Next, it’s time to add the egg whites. First add a heaped tablespoon to loosen the mixture and then proceed with the rest, folding them gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the cake tin and into the oven it goes. Once it’s done, all you have to do is wait for it to cool down and enjoy this chocolate cake!
Trick So There’s Less to Wash Up
As mentioned earlier, the egg whites have to be whipped up without any trace of yolk in the bowl and using very clean material. However, the yolks with the sugar can be perfectly beaten even if there’s a little white. That’s why you can whip the egg whites first, set them aside and use the same beaters, without cleaning them, to beat the sugar with the yolks.
More Easy Chocolate Cakes
This Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cake will always have a special place in my heart, however here you have more options that are equally delicious:
If you make this Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cake recipe, be sure to leave a comment and rate it. Hearing from you is everything! Oh, and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram, I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!
Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cake
- 1 23 cm diameter cake tin
- 6 L eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 185 g sugar
- 150 g dark chocolate - 55% to 70% cocoa, chopped
- 105 g unsalted butter - cut into cubes, preferably at room temperature
- 185 g almonds - raw, no skin and processed as you can see in the blogpos (or almond flour/almond meal)
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder - optional
- Preheat oven to 180ºC, no fan (170ºC fan). Grease the cake tin with spray or butter.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and melt over low heat (you can also do it in the microwave, starting with 30 seconds and then in 5-10 second intervals). Set aside.
- Separate the whites from the yolks.
- In the bowl of egg whites, add a pinch of salt and whip them to stiff peaks. Start at low speed and when foam appears increase up to medium speed. They will be ready when the beaters are full of stiff egg whites and they do not fall and when tilting the bowl the whipped egg whites do not slide down the sides. Set aside.
- In the bowl of the yolks, add the sugar and beat until the mixture looks paler, has taken on volume and when you lift the beaters the batter falls undulating like a ribbon.
- Add the melted chocolate, it can be warm but not hot, and the blended almonds. Mix until it has a uniform colour.
- Using a spatula, carefully fold the whites into the batter. Before adding the egg whites to the batter, the batter can be quite thick, so you can add a first heaped tablespoon of whites without being so careful, just to loosen the batter. Then fold the rest gently into the mixture, running the spatula along the bottom of the bowl and then up and over the batter and whites. We don't want to knock the air out.
- Pour the batter into the tin, decrease the temperature to 170ºC (160ºC fan) and bake the cake for at least 30 minutes. It will be ready when a toothpick comes out with some crumbs stuck to it but no raw batter- in my oven it is ready in exactly 35 minutes. Let it cool completely on a wire rack and unmold.
- Optionally dust it with cocoa powder, serve and enjoy!