Blog Archive

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chocolate Almond Cake with Avocado Crème Anglaise

Chocolate Almond Cake with Avocado Crème Anglaise

Chocolate Almond Cake with Avocado Crème Anglaise

by Victoria Challancin

Here in Mexico, where I have lived for over 23 years, we love avocados.  Yep, we love 'em.  They appear daily in the form of guacamole, in salsas, in cubes in our soups, and in slices to adorn our plates.  Almost all of our plates.  Yep, we love 'em.

When I look at the sheer numbers of avocados I have consumed in my life, I am actually astounded.  From the giant "aligator pears" of my youth in Florida, served when in season at practically every meal liberally sprinkled with lime juice and a touch of salt and pepper--no more, no less,  to the countless bowls of guacamole I have come to expect almost daily in Mexico, the avocado holds a prized place in my kitchen and in my heart.  I know that I wrote about the use of avocado leaves here, taught you to caramelize them here, and gave you a recipe for avocado mayonnaise here, and have no doubt waxed philosophical about them elsewhere, but this recipe, which includes avocado flesh in both the cake batter and the sauce, deserves special notice.  

In Mexico and in my kitchen, they are practically revered.  But with all the savory dishes that include avocados, from botanas to soups to salads, we still tend to think of them as a vegetable rather than as the unctuous fruit that they really are.  Yes, I see avocado ice cream at street stalls (yum...), but truly, its use as a fruit in sweet dishes is somewhat overlooked.  Not today!

Most of the classes I teach to Mexican cooks involved International Cuisine.  As the cooks are already proficient in Mexican cooking, I look afar to both educate their palates by introducing new ingredients and to expand the repertoire of recipes.  But every now and then, I sneak in a recipe that I know they will just love, usually one  that showcases Mexican ingredients in an innovative way.  And this recipe for a chocolate cake that includes avocado in both the cake batter and the accompanying sauce accomplishes that--in spades!

This recipe intrigued me because when I read through it, I knew it would be tasty.  I was also certain the Mexican cooks in my class would be interested in the idea of a cake made with avocados and a sauce as well.  True on both counts.

Chocolate Almond Cake with Avocado Crème Anglaise on my Mom's pretty plate...

The recipe itself comes from the California Avocado Commission, a source of many inspiring recipes including  Avocado Tempura, Avocado-Fennel Aioli, Baked Avocado with Crab and Green Goddess Dressing, and even an Avocado Daquiri!  What's not to love about a site that showcases a favorite ingredient in such innovative ways?

This recipe worked beautifully.  Because it uses only a tablespoon of flour, I knew it would turn out as a molten-style cake, and of course, it did.  Next time I make it (and I will make it again!), I will probably use individual ramekins instead of the square pan I used in class--just because I tend to prefer preparations in individual servings when possible.  The crust was crunchy and the interior a heavenly, moist bit of chocolate heaven.  I didn't have any pistachios, so we used almonds instead.  The cake itself  has no pronounced avocado flavor, but oh my, the crème anglaise is loaded with it.  Soothing, interesting, unusual, and delicious--I'll find lots of ways to use this in the future.  No doubt about it.

Chocolate Avocado Pistachio (Almond or Pecan) Cake with Avocado Crème Anglaise
(Recipe from the California Avocado Commission)

6 oz/3/4 cup pistachios, shelled  
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped in the food processor
6 oz/3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces (3/4 cup)
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon flour
4 eggs, separated
2 ripe, fresh Haas avocados, peeled, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 teaspoon cream of tartar
Powdered sugar

Crème Anglaise

1 ripe, fresh California Avocado, seeded, peeled, and scooped out
1 cup milk
¼ cup sugar
3 egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Arrange pistachios on a baking sheet and place in oven for about 15 minutes to toast the nuts until they are dry and aromatic. Stir the pistachios occasionally, being careful not to allow them to brown; cool completely. Finely grind nuts in the food processor with 1/4 cup sugar and the flour, pulsing on/off, until the consistency of fine meal. 

Increase oven heat to 350ºF. Butter an 8-inch springform pan, line with parchment paper, then turn paper over. 

Combine chocolate and butter in a bowl and microwave on medium power for 2 1/2 minutes Stir until smooth.
Beat egg yolks with the whisk attachment in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until yolks are very thick. Add the avocados to the mixer, increase speed, and beat until smooth. Reduce speed to low and gradually stir in the vanilla and chocolate and nut mixtures.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, and continue beating until stiff, but not dry. Gently fold  al little of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture (yolk mixture will be very thick).  Fold the yolk mixture back into the remaining whites.  Pour into the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the work surface and smooth top with a spatula to level. Bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Allow the cake to cool in pan. 

Remove sides of the springform pan and using a long spatula, slide the cake off the paper onto the serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Ladle Crème Anglaise into the center of each dessert plate, place a wedge of cake in the center of the plate and serve immediately.  

California Avocado Crème Anglaise
Do-Ahead:  The sauce can be completely prepared a day or so before serving.

Place the avocado in a food processor, pulsing on/off, until coarsely chopped. 
Mix milk and sugar together in a small heavy saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat.
Whisk egg yolks together just to blend in a medium bowl. 

Whisk scalded milk into the yolks, a drop at a time, and return the mixture to the saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat with a spatula until the sauce thickens. Do not allow the mixture to simmer or boil at anytime or it will curdle. Add the mixture to the avocado in the food processor and process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container, until completely puréed. Cover and refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.  

Chocolate Almond Cake with Avocado Crème Anglaise with left-over Valentine roses...


Other recipes from my blog using avocados:
Caramelized Avocados
Avocado Mayonnaise
Avocado Leaves:  A Secret Mexican Ingredient  (a top-rated post!)
Avocado Oil-Orange Vinaigrette

Victoria Challancin
Flavors of the Sun International Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende,

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.


PEI traveler said...

An avocado in Creme anglaise. Great " out of the box" creativity.
Can't wait to try it.Love your blog

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

This looks divine! I hear you on the avocado front! It's so delicious in sweets-I love avocado ice cream and shakes too :)