Celebration Chocolate Cake

For those of you who follow me on Facebook (yay you - you know who you are!!!) you will know it was my lovely Henry's 18th birthday yesterday. To celebrate we had two waves of visitors, kicking off with assorted grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins for early evening drinks, followed by a second wave of youngies for later drinks. At Henry's request I made Mexican Fish Sliders with Smoked Paprika Mayo and Corn and Prawn Fritters with Coriander Lime Pesto from an earlier blog, as well as Spicy Chicken, Almond and Avocado Wraps (recipe still in my head). For the cake he requested a chocolate almond cake, and since this was a vast chocolate-laden, 10-egg-sized cake it is now simply called Celebration Cake. This is a variation of my Hazelnut Chocolate Cake with Frangelico Ganache, swapping out the hazelnuts and Frangelico for almonds and Amaretto - and making it super-sized. It looked particularly fab loaded with ganache and sprinkled with Valhrona chocolate balls - yum - serve with softly whipped cream spiked with a little Amaretto and icing sugar for a happy birthday boy! (Please excuse the prop-free pics, as I grabbed a two second window in-between food prep to snap a few pics!)

400g dark chocolate, chopped
300g butter
1 1/4 cups raw sugar
10 eggs, separated
  4tbsp Amaretto liqueur 
1/2 tsp almond essence
1 tbsp dark cocoa powder
3 1/4 cups ground almonds
300ml cream
350g chocolate, chopped
  2 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
1/3 cup Valhrona chocolate balls or similar

Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and grease and line a 26cm round spring-form tin with baking paper. Put chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat on medium for 1 minute. Stir and continue heating in 30 second bursts as necessary until melted and smooth when stirred. Add sugar, egg yolks, Amaretto and almond essence and stir to combine, then add ground almonds and cocoa and mix through. In a separate bowl whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Place 1 large tablespoon of egg whites into chocolate almond mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the rest of the whisked egg whites and pour into tin. Cook for 50 minutes and allow to cool completely in the tin.
For the ganache, pour cream into a microwave safe jug and heat for 1 minute on high. Add chopped chocolate and stir to combine. If it doesn't become smooth after a minute, heat in the microwave on medium for 30 seconds and repeat in bursts until it can be whisked until smooth - do not over heat or the chocolate will 'catch' and be beyond saving! Whisk in Amaretto and leave  for 3-4 hours until thickened. Smooth onto cake and top with Valhrona chocolate balls. Serve with softly whipped cream flavoured with a little Amaretto and icing sugar. This is a large cake, which serves 15-20 depending on your portion sizes!

Happy Birthday Henry - and thanks Aunty Kimmie for the fab white marker for writing on the cook top splash-back.....

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