Chocolate Almond Cake

Time is the most precious commodity we possess. These words of advice have been somewhere in the back of my mind for awhile, but they didn't genuinely register until earlier this year. The way we spend our time is an expression of what we find truly important. Is the way I am spending my time a reflection of who I want to be?  

In school this week, the students were tasked with filling in a pie chart of their daily routine, marking how much of their time is spent on various activities. How much time do you spend on your phone? In front of the television? On sports or hobbies? After filling in the charts, they were given a second pie chart. What do you wish it looked like?

Even though the lesson wasn't meant for me, the changes have been on my mind since. I would call my parents more, just to talk about the mundane details of day-to-day life. I would take a few minutes each day to clean up after myself. I would give each of my students my undivided attention. I would spend less time sitting on the couch.

I would spend more time in the kitchen, enjoying the feeling of dough beneath my fingers. 

This chocolate almond cake was the result of a chocolate craving that couldn't be curbed. With a deep chocolate flavor, it is well suited for the chocolate lover in your life. I prefer to heat each slice for 15 seconds in the microwave before serving. When heated, the warm cake takes on a gooey texture reminiscent of fudge brownies and cookies fresh from the oven.

As a bonus, the cake is naturally gluten-free.


This gluten-free Chocolate Almond Cake relies on almond flour to hold it together and give the cake texture. Dark, semi-sweet, or milk chocolate acts as a base for the cakefollow your preference here. Several eggs are used, which help to set it up similar to a thick custard. Serve for the chocolate lover in your life (especially if that person happens to be you).

Two Years Ago: Honey Oat Bread and Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins
Three Years Ago: Bruleed Grapefruit and Bacon Chive Beer Bread
Four Years Ago: Cheddar Dill Biscuits, S'mores Brownies, and BBQ Bacon Water Chestnuts
Five Years Ago: Chocolate Frosted Yellow Cake and Vanilla Rum French Toast

Chocolate Almond Cake

Yield 9-inch cake

8 tablespoons (113 grams) butter, melted
9 ounces (250 grams) dark. semisweet, or milk chocolate, melted
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, melted chocolate, 4 egg yolks, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt until uniform. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 8-10 minutes. Fold in the almond flour and baking powder. Carefully stir in the chocolate mixture,  

Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the middle of the cake barely wiggles. Take care not to over-bake the cake or it will be dry.

Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. I prefer to heat each slice in the microwave for 15 seconds until the cake is warm and gooey. You'll want to do this too.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (GF)

One of my coworkers has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder caused by gluten intolerance. Whenever I bring treats to the office after a weekend of baking, she is unable to enjoy them. I am too nervous to make her anything special out of my own kitchen, however. A fine layer of flour has settled over every surface and I am not careful enough to avoid cross contamination when filling measuring cups and spoons. As someone who also suffers from food allergiesmainly tree nuts and dairyI know how awful (and life-threatening) it can be when someone else isn't attentive enough.

So I send her recipes instead, gluten-free inventions from my kitchen that she can create in her own.

Though I adore my (gluten-free) almond butter chocolate chip cookies from a couple years ago, I wanted to create a recipe that was more accessible. Almond butter is not only expensive, but it can be difficult to find. Peanut butter, on the other hand, is abundant and cheap. Figuring out the proportions of ingredients was the tricky part.

Even though I would consider myself a fairly prolific baker, I have a terrible habit of not reading recipe directions (this is especially true if the recipe is one of my own). As a place to begin, I planned to mimic the proportions of the almond butter cookie. The first batch of cookies was nearly perfect, but I realized, after eating my third cookie, that none of my ratios were as intended. The second batch, following my original directions, turned out worse than the first. Sandy and crumbly, they reminded me more of shortbread than a gooey chocolate chip cookie.


My lack of recipe literacy has been helpful before (especially with these double chocolate brownies) and this time was no exception. The third batch improved on the first batch, and the recipe was complete. I tried the recipe with the standard processed peanut butters ("Natural Jif" and "Natural Skippy") and the recipe turned out well both times. Though you can use a completely natural nut butter, I would hesitate doing so. These butters tend to create a more oily batter, which causes the cookies to spread differently (either too thin or not enough).

I shared the heaping pile of cookies I created with my teenage students, and this recipe came out the clear winner. The cookie is chewy, gooey, and full of melted chocolate. The fact that it is also gluten-free is just the icing on the cake.

These (gluten-free) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk cookies are easily my favorite peanut butter and chocolate cookie combination. The texture is thick and dense. Brown sugar adds a chewiness that appears once the cookies have cooled. Combined with chocolate chunks, these cookies could rival any similar cookie, gluten-free or not. Serve these with milk or coffee and dessert will become something special. 

One Year Ago: Blueberry Pie
Two Years Ago: Honey Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Strawberry Charlotteand Fresh Strawberry Cake
Three Years Ago: Homemade Mascarpone, Ladyfingers, Tiramisu Cake, and Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies
Four Years Ago: Strawberry Milk, Raspberry Swirled Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream, Blueberry Coffee Cake, and Vanilla Pear Muffins

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Yields approximately 16 cookies

3/4 cup (200 grams) creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup (135 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (113 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until uniform. Stir in the baking soda and salt. Fold in the coarsely chopped chocolate.

Drop cookies by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely (the cookies will be fragile and need to set-up before they can be moved). 

Blueberry Oat Bars (GF)

People eat with their eyes first, I tell my boyfriend, using this line every time something comes out of the oven that doesn't meet my definition of "cookbook cover." Presentation is everything

Taste matters, too,
he reminds me, digging a fork into whatever dessert I have dismissed. And he is right.

Since the coffee cake revelation of last year, my goal has been to soften my ideas of perfection. More recipes have been shared and fewer have been hidden from view. This approach hasn't been without its challenges, though. I still feel the uncertainty of whether something is exceptional enough to bring into your kitchen. Know your audience, I tell my students. How well do I know mine?

These blueberry oat bars were inspired by a strawberry bar of a similar nature from years past. I pulled them together on a cool Saturday morning, but when they came out of the oven, I hesitated. The jam had bled into the oats, dying them a dark shade of green; the oats had browned unevenly. The decision was made. Do you want a bite? I called to my boyfriend, rejecting the bars on looks alone. They are still warm. 

As any food blogger can tell you, once the fork reaches the pan, the opportunity for photography has fallen away. I took a forkful. Two. Three. I cut myself a square and was mid-bite when my boyfriend reached the kitchen. I am pretty sure this is the best thing I have ever eaten, I said between mouthfuls. I need to photograph these. 

I whisked the bars away before he could get a bite.

The taste easily makes up for whatever these bars may lack in looks. To create them, a layer of fruit preserves is sandwiched between an oatmeal crust. The texture is that of a chocolate chip cookie, hot and gooey from the oven (and it retains this texture for several days). The jam gives the bars a richness reminiscent of fudgea little will go a long way when it comes to this dessert.

Since the fruit is the focus, use a high quality fruit preserve or jam (bonus if it has fruit pieces!). Homemade or store bought will work equally well so don't think or worry you are "cheating" if you take the easy way out.

Blueberry Oat Bars (gluten-free!) are simple to make and a joy to eat. An oatmeal crustmade from oats, coconut oil, and brown sugarforms the base of the bars. A thick layer of fruit preserves are spread on top before baking and caramelizing in the oven. The bars are chewy on the edges, gooey in the middle, and very difficult to ignore.

Two Years Ago: Sunflower Seed Bread, Blackberry Fool, and Lime Curd Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream
Three Years Ago:Grapefruit Soda, Irene's Orange Rolls, S'mores Cupcakes, and Mai Tai
Four Years Ago:Thin Mint Brownies, Strawberry Pancakes, Roasted Pineapple, and Lemon Thins

Blueberry Oat Bars

Yields 16 servings

1/3 cup (70 grams) coconut oil, solid state
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1  cup (90 grams) oat flour*/**
1 1/2 cups (135 grams) old fashioned oats**
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (~300 grams) fruit preserves or jam (I used blueberry fruit preserves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x8-inch pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together coconut oil and brown sugar until uniform. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until blended. Stir in the oat flour, oats, chia seeds, baking soda, and salt. Batter will be slightly sticky. Using greased hands, press 3/4 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread preserves or jam evenly over the top. Crumble the remaining 1/4 of the batter evenly on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly in pan before serving.

* To make oat flour, place old fashioned oats in a food processor and process until oats are a fine powder.

** To make gluten-free, use gluten-free rolled oats.