Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Almonds and Dried Fruit

Sweet Sherries are often overshadowed by Port and other dessert wines, but a Pedro Ximénez, with its toffee, hazelnut, and raisin flavors, can be a better match with many desserts than even the best Port. A case in point is this cake by Vicki Wells, pastry chef at Bolo in New York City.


Pair with Pedro Ximénez Sherry; recommended wines include Sandeman Royal Ambrosante and Dios Baco PX.

  • For the cake
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or 1¼ cups chopped)
  • 9 ounces (or 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) butter
  • 6 eggs, separated (keep both whites and yolks)
  • 8 ounces (1¼ cups) sugar
  • 2/3 cup toasted almonds, chopped
  • 1½ cups chopped dried fruits (cherries, raisins, apricots, figs, or all four)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
  • For the ganache
  • 2½ cups chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch cake pan.

To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate and butter are melted. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and half of the sugar. Combine the yolk-sugar mixture with the melted chocolate mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in the almonds and dried fruits.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and remaining sugar until they hold soft peaks. Scoop the meringue over the cake mixture. Sift the flour onto the top of the meringue, then fold the beaten whites and flour into the chocolate mixture until homogenous.

Fill the prepared cake pan ¾ full with batter. Bake until the cake is set all the way through, about 40 minutes. (The middle of the cake will remain soft.) Let cool completely in the pan, then invert onto a cake rack set over a baking sheet.To make the ganache: Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, wait about 1 minute, then stir gently with a whisk until combined and completely smooth.

Let the ganache stand a few minutes before pouring it over the cooled cake. Let the ganache set, transfer the cake to a cake plate, and serve.

Published on December 18, 2009
About the Author
Dylan Garret

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