50 minutes prep time | Serves 12
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/3 c cocoa powder
2/3 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar, plus 3 Tbsp
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 c unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c milk
2/3 cup ground almonds or hazelnuts
Fresh raspberries, strawberries, or cherries for garnish, optional
1/4 c water
3 Tbsp sugar
1 c semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round or heart-shaped cake pans. In a small pan, melt 1/4 cup butter. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa. In a large bowl, cream together 2/3 cup butter with 1 cup sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add chocolate mixture, egg yolks, and vanilla. Gradually add flour, salt, and milk. Beat until well blended. Stir in ground nuts.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, beating just until soft peaks form. Gently fold into chocolate mixture.
Pour batter evenly into pans and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool about 15 minutes, and then remove from the pans and place on a rack to cool completely.
To prepare the glaze: In a small pan, combine water and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate pieces and vanilla. Beat with a whisk until chocolate is melted. Use immediately.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spoon half of the prepared glaze over it. Top with the second layer, and spread top and sides with remaining glaze. Cool until glaze is set. Garnish with fresh berries, if desired.