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Chocolate spice cake

The typical Passover Seder meal is a minefield of familial politics. Jackie Mason could base a stand-up routine on it: "I want the soup but no chicken in it; matzo balls but soft, not hard, ones; tzimmes but no prunes; ... Read more

Active work time: 20 minutes | Total preparation time: 1 1/2 hours | Serves 10 to 12
  • 1 1/4 cups almonds
  • 10 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup Passover wine or warm coffee
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cups matzo cake meal
  • 1/4 cup potato starch

Step 1Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast them until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool, then finely chop and set aside.

Step 2Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 10-inch tube or angel food pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease and dust the sides with potato starch.

Step 3In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks and 1 1/4 cups sugar until very thick and pale yellow, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the wine or coffee, cocoa powder, salt, cloves and cinnamon. Stir in the matzo cake meal, potato starch and the chopped almonds.

Step 4In a large bowl, gently whisk the egg whites with clean, dry beaters to break them up. Increase the speed and gradually add the remaining sugar, beating on high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy but not dry, 6 to 8 minutes. Briskly and thoroughly fold about one-third of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten. Then in two separate additions, fold in the remaining egg whites into the yolk mixture, taking care not to deflate the egg whites and to still blend the batter properly.

Step 5Pour the batter into the pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 65 minutes.

Note: Not just any old chocolate cake, this combines warm spices like cloves and cinnamon with toasted ground almonds for an effect that is distinctly Italian. The almonds can be toasted up to a week in advance and stored, tightly covered, in the freezer. But grind them at the last minute to keep them tasting fresh.
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