Makes 16-18 servings.
If you are expecting a large crowd this dessert is delicious cake to serve. It is light and not too sweet, and I like to serve it with berries and chocolate sorbet. The cake freezes very well too. Be sure to wrap it in wax paper, foil and place in a Ziploc before putting it in the freezer.
- ½ pound blanched almonds
- 6 ounces high quality imported semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 12 tablespoons unsalted margarine at room temperature, cut into small pieces plus 2 tablespoons for greasing the pan
- 8 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 1½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and scrape off the seed (See Note)
- 1/3 cup sifted unsweetened, imported cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Grease a 12x2½ inches spring form pan with margarine. Line it with wax paper and grease the paper.
- Grind almonds finely, almost like flour in the food processor.
- Place chocolate and margarine into a double boiler set over simmering water. Melt the chocolate until smooth, remove the top and cool.
- Beat the egg yolks in an electric mixer using a balloon whisk, at medium speed, adding 1 cup sugar gradually until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- With the motor off fold in almonds, chocolate, vanilla seeds and cocoa. Combine well with a large rubber spatula.
- Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer, at high speed, until small peaks show. Now add the 1½ tablespoon sugar until stiff. With a large rubber spatula, fold half of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Reverse the process and spoon the chocolate over the whites. Gently fold the two together making a motion like a figure 8 until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes. A cake tester inserted in the center should come out almost dry.
- Cool on a wire rack. Remove the rim and invert unto a serving platter. Discard the wax paper.
Vanilla beans should be cut horizontally to expose the inside seeds. Use the tip of a knife to collect the seeds. If you only need half of the seeds of a bean, simply cut the bean in half, before you cut it open.