Chocolate Swirl Walnut Pound Cake

1.26.2013



A few years ago I ventured into the gastronomic business with a small café, something you probably know if you come here often. I closed it (sold it) a few months ago, have absolutely no regrets whatsoever of any shape, size or form, just in case you´re thinking how sad, and got my life back.
Gastronomy. It´s a hard life, which you hear about endlessly, and yet nothing compares to reality. Especially when you dive into it with another job going on and not a drop of experience. 
Molly of Orangette, brilliantly explains the feeling `A couple of years ago, not long after we opened Delancey, back in the days when I was still cooking there every night and trying to write on the side and living on pizza and cookie dough and adrenaline and contemplating a third career as a mass murderer, ..´


Now that I have more time, and before it magically dissapears again, for whatever reason, I decided to start investigating certain things I had on my mind for the longest time, like nut pastes and creams. I am very familiar with the well known frangipane (almond cream), a mixture of almonds, sugar and eggs mainly, and an extraordinary base for fruit tarts, like pears, peaches, plums, figs, or apples as in this crackly apple almond tart.


The almond paste is the first step when making almond cream, where the nuts are ground with powdered sugar and a binding ingredient is added, in my case egg whites, though I´ve made it with honey and corn syrup too. 
I often wondered why other nuts where not used as often as almonds. I mean, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, all marvelous flavors to use in fruit tarts. Or as is the case here, in a gooey, tender walnut chocolate pound cake.


So, taking matters into my own hands, I made a walnut cream and used it in this cake, where it is treated almost as a butter and then swirled with chocolate, before a crumble is added on top. Simply wonderful.
This is a pound cake with a texture unlike a regular pound cake. It is more buttery, not so doughy. Any nut goes well with chocolate, so feel free to change the flavor. The crumble is a nice and crunchy surprise, which might seem too much, but it works.

Being this a very rich cake, if you have to feed many people, it´s a good idea to bake it in square form, and cut it in smaller pieces. Or serve it with coffee after a meal for a perfect sweet bite to end the night.



CHOCOLATE WALNUT POUND CAKE
adapted from Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, by Nancy Silverton

Ingredients

For the cake:
8oz (225g) unsalted butter, at room tº but not greasy
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup sugar
1 cup walnut paste **
5 large eggs
2 cups cake flour or all purpose flour
4 oz (115g) semi sweet chocolate, melted

For the streusel:
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
4oz. (115g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

Directions

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350º. Butter or spray a non-stick 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter with baking powder. Add sugar gradually and then walnut paste and beat for 2 or 3 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove from the mixer and add flour in three additions, mixing well with a spatula.
Pour into prepared pan, level batter and add chocolate on top. Swirl with a knife, bringing some white batter to the top. Add crumble over batter and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack and unmold. It keeps, well wrapped in plastic, for a few days.

** Walnut paste: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, put 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup powdered sugar. Process until well ground and mixed. Add 1 egg white and continue processing until a crumbly paste forms. Keeps well covered and refrigerated for a few weeks.

For the streusel: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, mix flour and sugar. Add butter and process until crumbly. Do not let it form a ball.




31 comments:

  1. Paula, "walnut paste" sounds interesting. We almost always get the walnuts here from France and they start appearing in the markets in September, eagerly anticipated by many people. I use them extensively for all kinds of dishes and baking but have never made a "walnut paste" with them and I am sure that it adds quite some depth of flavor to your Chocolate Walnut Pound Cake. It does looks like a perfect cake to enjoy with that late afternoon cup of tea!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the idea of walnut paste my friend, it sounds perfect in a pound cake :D
    And chocolate too? Indulgent :)

    Cheers
    CCU

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm glad to hear that you're happy with your decision to move on from the cafe. It's always good to try new things, give it a good shot, and walk away with a smile if the fit just isn't there.

    I have a bag of freshly cracked walnuts in my freezer right now that need to jump into this cake. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn´t know you could freeze walnuts... great tip

      Delete
  4. Oh, Paula, this looks amazing! I love walnuts - and chocolate. People are always telling John & me that we should open a restaurant, but I really think it would take all the fun out of cooking for us. I wouldn't be able to deal with the complaints & throwing food away. I can only imagine how much work this was for you.

    I'm just glad you're here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My challenges were with employees (most of them so young and with such little interest in their job), and with the million (accurate number) of things to cope with every.single.day that had nothing to do with food or enjoying the customers.

      Delete
  5. That is one tasty looking cake! Love the crumb!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Paula,
    I love this post and recipe! Your words are always so honest and eloquent. Everything happens for a reason and you have no regrets and you have TIME. . which is a wonderful thing! I'm happy for you my friend! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. This looks like an utterly incredible recipe. And as for the post, what wonderful words. I often think running a little cafe would be fun, but I know the reality could be hugely different. Very honest, fascinating post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kate! Though I would go visit if you ever open a cafe...

      Delete
  8. That cake looks incredible! Such a good idea to make paste with other nuts. I made almond paste for the first time last summer and instantly fell in love.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the crumb topping on top of this delicious looking cake. Sounds and looks wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was glad to read you have no regrets about your choice. I guess people often romanticize owning a little cafe without realizing how stressful running one can be! And now you have the time to make all these beautiful things (and share them with more people). Beautiful cake!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am totally with you about gastronomic biz...used to work in the hotel restaurants (well, that's not even my own business) and I had enough with long working time...I meant 14 hours a day was normal, 16 hours wasn't anything special..
    The cake looks really rich, bet it tastes super! I would love to try the walnut cream.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Can you use this process to make any nut paste? I have been looking for hazelnut paste for EONS! This looks wonderful, well except the walnuts which I don't like but I could sub a different nut paste, right? And also, thanks for confirming my decision to never ever go into the food service industry! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I´ve substituted any nut with great results. But this is not hazelnut paste as in nutella...

      Delete
  13. That cake looks stunning and so are the pictures!
    Nothing beats Almond cream,it's so tasty!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cut in smaller pieces??? Not for me. I'll take a big fat slice of this cake. I love rich cakes. I'm dying to try the walnut paste too.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I often think about how life would be if I quit my day job and opened up a bakery. I'm a realistic gal - I know the hours are brutal, it's physically and mentally exhausting, and it's hard to make money. I'll just have to keep the baking as my personal hobby and make cakes like this one for myself. This looks amazing, Paula - I love that golden crumb on top and those delicious chocolate swirls. Walnuts are my favourite nut to bake with. I can't wait to try this.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Love this cake! What a great way to use walnuts, just sounds fantastic! :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Baking for work is so different than baking whenever and whatever you wish. I am very happy to be able to bake for pleasure and manage my own little kitchen. I am glad to hear you are enjoying developing new recipes, as we your readers are pleased with your creations! The Chocolate Swirl Walnut Pound Cake is a perfect example of delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have never had walnut paste, that sounds like an awesome addition! Your streusel top looks so delicious! Hugs, Terra

    ReplyDelete
  19. This looks absolutely spectacular. Pound cake is one of my favorites, but this takes it to a whole new level. Love the addition of the walnuts. Congrats on this new chapter!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Good for all the readers that you have now time to experiment and share many great recipes ;) like this pound cake, that walnut paste sounds great, I would like to try it(when I am not that lazy :D)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am glad that you have the time to experiment with walnut paste now!!! how amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love the walnut paste which will give it such fabulous flavor. I'm a huge fan of chocolate and walnuts.. Great recipe--and photos.

    ReplyDelete
  23. OMG, Paula! This looks absolutely incredible! I am very familiar with Nancy Silverton's wonderful recipes...I've made her bran muffins on my blog, and they are the best ever, so I'm positive this is no different!

    ReplyDelete
  24. As a kid I loved Sara Lee chocolate swirl pound cake which was taken off the market, then returned and taken off again.The chocolate was distinct and you could really taste the swirls. It also had almond extract. Your pictures look pretty convincing that I might be able to nearly replicate the swirl experience. One question- the cake call for 1/4 cup of sugar- is that correct? I realize the the walnut paste has 1 cup of confectionery sugar but I just wanted to confirm the sugar measurement before trying the recipe. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  25. Just checking that only 1/4 cup of cane sugar is the correct amount. I know there is sugar in the walnut paste that is added to the cake, but just wanted to confirm the measurement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes June, only 1/4 cup. The rest is provided by the overly sweet walnut paste.

      Delete

Your comments make my day! Thanks for taking the time to leave a note.

>
Vintage Kitchen Notes. All rights reserved. © Adorable Design.