Melissa's Chocolate Almond Birthday Cake

I'm really good at birthdays. Like, really good. I remember my friends' birthdays, their kids' birthdays and even some of their parents' and spouses' birthdays. I send gifts, sometimes even thoughtful ones. And I love nothing more than to bake a good birthday cake.

And yet, I was looking at the calendar last week and realized that I had missed my own blogging birthday. My first lemon pound cake post landed here February 17, 2014 and got probably 4 views. To those of you who've been with me from the beginning (Mom and Dad), THANK YOU. To those of you who just found me, THANK YOU, too! Blogging has given me a creative outlet and a way to share something that I love with this little world. It has kept me going during some long, lonely weeks when we were new in San Diego and I was still making friends. It's given me a place to track my life through the goods that I bake. We've met Olive and her mom Leigh. I've talked a lot about Stacy. My dad has made an appearance or two. Family, friends and good times have been shared here. Before this starts sounding like my epilogue, let me tell you about this cake.
THIS CAKE, Melissa would write in all caps. And, she would be right. Melissa from Julia's Book Bag makes this gorgeous chocolate almond cake for herself for her January birthday so I thought I'd make it for mine! Well, my blogging birthday, anyway. (THANK YOU, Melissa. Big hugs!) Random fact about Melissa: she grew up on Maui with my daughter's godmother Tatsinda and the first time I met this fabulous blogger was when she was a Laura-Ashley-wearing (complete with matching headband. Dark hair + creamy-Snow-White skin + ruffles + flower prints = just divine) college freshman. And now she's an attorney blogger photographer kick ass mom. I'm pretty sure Melissa rules Washington state. Ooh, Melissa, you should be Mayor! Or Governor! Or Senator!

Back to the cake. Almond cake is a classic Italian dessert which turned out to be fortuitous for me as I happened to be last minute hostess of family dinner this week. In attendance we had 2 D'Amicos and 5 Stabiles (that's Stah'-bee-lay in the old country) and only one of us (Irish heathen that I am!) married into the Italian bloodline: everyone else created it. Sometimes called Nonna Cake for the Italian grandmothers who must have originated almond cake recipes like this one, this is a dense and different dessert. I added almond and vanilla extracts to the recipe Melissa uses and I'd do it again. It's small-ish size does not reflect its larger-than-life taste. Marzipanian with a dark chocolate twist, this cake is a delicious marriage of deep flavors with a satisfying almond-mealy texture. We served it with ice cream, but I heartily recommend a brandy- or almond-flavored dollop of whipped cream instead.
Any way you slice it, this has been a fantastic, surprising year and I am fortunate beyond measure to share my baking world with you all. Thank you for reading, commenting (when the functionality works) and supporting me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I heart you.

Truly, madly, deeply yours,


Melissa's Chocolate Almond Birthday Cake
6 oz. Ghirardelli Double Chocolate chips chocolate
12 T unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 C sugar
4 eggs, separated
1/3 C ground almonds or almond flour (Melissa uses this kind of almond flour, so I did, too)
1/3 C all-purpose flour
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract

4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
3 T butter
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C plus 2 T heavy cream

Make the cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter and flour on 9-inch cake pan or spring form pan.
3. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool.
4. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks and set them in the fridge.
5. Cream the butter with the sugar and then add the egg yolks one by one until thoroughly mixed in, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
6. Add the extracts and the melted chocolate.
7. Add the almond and all-purpose flours.
8. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture until it all comes together.
9. Pour your batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until center of cake springs back when touched but still appears moist.
10. Cool the cake for 2 hours or up to overnight before icing it.

Make the icing:
1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over low heat, whisking fairly regularly until melted. Set aside until the cake is cooled.
2. When the cake is cool, steadily pour the icing over top of the cake and spread gently, just until the icing flows over the sides of the cake. It should continue to flow down the sides a bit - sort of like lava.

Let the cake set and slice into slivers. Eat slowly and savor. Mmmm. 


  1. I'm thrilled to pieces you made the cake! Next time around, I'm going to add the extracts as well because that sounds like an extra dose of awesome. Ok, I was wearing what now? I have no memory of this! But it sounds just like something I would have worn then, so I'm going to nod yes in agreement.....ha ha ha, Andrew thought that was hilarious and he too says, yep, that's sounds incredibly likely......#lauraashley4ever

    1. Melissa,
      You have always been the prettiest of pretty. Indeed #lauraashley4ever!


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