Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Almond Pound Cake

I enjoy baking.  I also enjoy eating what I have baked.  The problem is that I enjoy it a little too much sometimes.  Having sugary sweets in the house is dangerous for me.  So, yesterday, when my husband announced that he was in the mood for something sweet (a chocolate pound cake, no less), I knew I could make it but would have to get rid of it.  I decided to make the cake, keep several slices at home, and take the rest to work.  That way other people would eat it, not me.  Right?  Wrong!  I have had two thin pieces of this cake today and one last night, and it is staring at me right now from the kitchen counter. 

I don't know that this pound cake is extremely different from other pound cakes you have made or eaten, but something about this cake is really addictive for me.  Maybe it's the hint of cocoa, maybe it's the almond extract, maybe it's the insane amount of fat and sugar that go into any pound cake.  Whatever it is, it is tasty and it is dangerous.  Therefore, I will not unwrap the pound cake.  I will not unwrap the pound cake.  I will not unwrap the pound cake.  Maybe if I repeat this enough, it will work (but I doubt it).  This is why I don't bake more often.

Just to give you a little background on this cake before giving you the recipe...this cake has been in my family for years.  I have no idea where the original recipe came from, probably either another family member or a church cookbook.  The cake is not overly chocolately, and it is extremely moist (especially the day it is made) assuming you don't overbake it.  It does contain a little shortening which I realize many people these days try to stay away from.  You can make it with all butter (just use an extra 1/2 cup butter), but I have to warn you that it is the shortening that causes it to have an extra crispy crust on the outside which is one of the things that makes it so delicious.  One more thing, the original recipe only calls for vanilla extract, but I like to add a little almond extract for more flavor.  If you prefer, leave the almond out. 

Chocolate Almond Pound Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup milk, preferably whole (although 2% is fine)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a standard tube pan (or bundt cake pan) and set aside.  Place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Cream the butter, shortening, and sugar in a large bowl until pale yellow and creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Sift the dry ingredients into a medium bowl.  Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture, mixing after each addition.  Be careful not to overmix the batter at this point.  Gently stir in the extracts.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it evenly with a spatula.  Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  I usually begin checking it every 10 minutes after 1 hour just to ensure it is not overbaked. 

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