for my father – chocolate cake w almond cream filling

by hungryrabbit on June 15, 2012

Chocolate Cake w Almond Cream Filling

I never quite get the story straight about my Dad and his siblings. I grew up knowing aunt number one, two, three, five and six; my Dad being the youngest was number ten. This was where things got confusing—when the histories of numbers seven to nine were vague or nonexistent. The only clear fact – my Dad was the only male in that lineage.

Being the only male in one generation of a Chinese family had its privileges. What I gathered from the conversations around dining table while growing up is that my Dad was definitely the prince. My aunts not only pampered my Dad (but so did his three sons).

We benefited, too. My brothers and I got to attend family gatherings when most of our cousins weren’t invited. We’d get to sit at the VIP tables at family banquets . . . you get the picture.

Though grew up in this fashion, my Dad was not spoiled nor was he a brat about the situation. He was, in my mind, a classic gentlemen—always charming, well mannered, and polite yet very funny. He got my quirky sense of humor, and we always had our moments of laughter, just between us.

My Dad taught me about table manners, both East and West— properly holding chopsticks, correctly picking up a fork and knife, gently laying a napkin on the lap, and never resting elbows on table. Some called him strict, even I did back then, and now I am eternally grateful for learning the basic social skills at an early age. Even at age ten, I have never felt awkward attending formal dinners.

Another trait I took up from my Dad was his appreciation for finer things in life, not necessarily expensive, but an appreciation for fine craftsmanship. It could be a well-made pair of shoes or the luxurious feel of a sweater, as well as a perfect har gow (shrimp dumpling) made with the thinnest translucent dough or the beautiful hand-crafted pastries that he savored with his percolated coffee.

At age twelve, I painstakingly filled crispy chocolate coated cigar-like cookies with almond ice cream. I don’t know how I got that idea in my head, but I didn’t stop until I filled ten of them. I stored them in the freezer until my parents got home and presented them like I just invented sliced bread. My parents loved the treat, but my father really understood how important it was to me. He proudly announced that he wanted to show off my almond chocolate cigars at their upcoming dinner party. I immediately said yes without thinking how much time it would take to fill 3 dozen cookies, but alas, I did it and got high praises from the dinner guests.

For this upcoming Father’s Day, I made individual Chocolate Cakes with Almond Cream Filling, flavors reminiscent of my early culinary moment with my Dad. He taught me so much, yet even with his discipline, he allowed me the freedom to explore. Thank you for recognizing my passion for food and encouraging me. I would gladly spoon ice cream into chocolate cigars again just to see your smile once more.

Chocolate Cake w Almond Cream Filling

recipe by hungry rabbit
yield: Six 3-inch cakes


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1-1/4 cups water, boiling
1/2 cup (2-1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 ounces) almond flour
3/4 cup (3 ounces) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened, plus extra for greasing pans
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs , room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Almond Cream Filling, recipe to follow
Chocolate Glaze, recipe to follow
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped (for garnish, optional)


1. Adjust oven rack to middle positions and place baking sheet in oven; heat oven to 350℉. Meanwhile, grease six 3-inch x 3-inch high cake pans with butter and line bottom of each pan with parchment paper round. Combine chocolate, cocoa and espresso powder in a 4-cup measuring cup; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Sift together flours, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. Place butter in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs one at a time, beat until fully incorporated. Reduce speed to medium-low; add sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined, about 45 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. With mixer on low, add about one third of flour mixture, followed by about one half of chocolate mixture. Repeat, ending with flour mixture. Remove mixing bowl and finish mixing with a rubber spatula, careful not to overmix.

3. Divide batter evenly among cake pans, smooth batter to edges of pan. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 23 minutes. Cool on wire rack 20- 30 minutes. Run knife around pan perimeter to loosen. Invert cakes onto large plate; peel off parchment, and reinvert onto lightly greased rack. Cool completely before icing.

Almond Cream Filling


3/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons almond paste
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup (2-3/8 ounces) granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1/2 cup heavy cream


1. Heat milk and almond paste in small saucepan over medium heat until just simmering and almond paste has dissolved. Whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in bowl until smooth. Remove milk from heat and, slowly add milk to yolk mixture to temper. Whisking constantly, pour tempered yolk mixture back into saucepan. Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens to consistency of warm pudding, about 4 minutes. Add amaretto and whisk to combine; strain almond cream into a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 40-60 minutes.

2. Using a stand mixer with whisk attachment or a hand mixer, whisk heavy cream to stiff peak. Add almond cream in 3-4 additions, whisk until fully combined. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso power
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Combine chocolate, espresso powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

2. Warm heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan until just simmer. Pour over chocolate mixture and whisk gently until smooth. Let glaze cool and thicken slightly, about 15 minutes.



1. Hold a cake upside down; using a 2-inch cookie cutter, center the cutter on the bottom of the cake and gently push in, about one inch inward. Pull out cutter with a slight twisting motion. Remove cake from cutter and trim the disc of cake to about 3/4-inch thick. Using a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon or any small spoon, scoop out additional cake; take care not to puncture the sides. Repeat with the rest of the cakes.

2. Transfer Almond Cream Filling to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip; pipe filling into the cavity of cake, and cover with the reserved corresponding cake discs. Place cakes on greased cooling rack lined with a baking sheet. Spoon glaze over cakes and let it run down the sides.  Let set for 10 minutes, decorate with chopped almonds.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar June 15, 2012 at 7:04 am

This cake is absolutely beautiful! Great idea!

Meeta June 15, 2012 at 7:05 am

So wonderful reading about your dad. Having met you I can see how moments like these would mean so much to you Ken. These cakes look decadent and divine!

Brian June 15, 2012 at 7:15 am


Your father sounds like a very sweet man… Someone you really look up to. Thank you for sharing this little background into your life, as well as this gorgeous cake recipe!


Suzi June 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

What a beautiful tribute to you father, it brought tears to my eyes. Sounds like a wonderful relationship you had. Lovely cake also it looks fantastic.

Urvashee June 15, 2012 at 9:38 am

I hope my kid is as brilliant as you were at 12 and invents a yummy dessert treat! The cake sounds yummy and what lovely presentation.

Wendy Read June 15, 2012 at 9:56 am

OMG Ken, I just want to slather this all over my body!!! I really enjoyed reading your story too..hope we get to meet in person sometime soon.

abby dodge June 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your dad. Judging from the lovely son he raised, he was a great dad. And I know he’d love these cakes!

Cookin' Canuck June 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Wow! This is stunning! And what a wonderful tribute your dad. My husband and I are sticklers about table manners (as my parents were with me). My kids roll their eyes at us now, but hopefully it will pay off in the end.

Jenn Baker (@jbakerhenry) June 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Thank goodness your parents recognized your gift. What would we do at all these gatherings without Hungry Rabbit?! What I ask. Hope you and the family have a great father’s day weekend.

Meghan June 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Beautiful cake, and I love the story behind it! Lovely tribute to your dad Ken.

thyme (sarah) June 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Beautiful. Just Beautiful…I’m too choked up to type anything more…

Rosie June 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Lovely story and lovely cake!
My dad was #7 out 9 and there were only 2 sons in this Chinese family. He was spoiled.

Katie June 15, 2012 at 7:16 pm

This cake is just gorgeous. What a beautiful tribute to your dad!

Cait @ Cait's Food Therapy June 16, 2012 at 1:52 am

Beautiful food photography and post!

Jamie June 16, 2012 at 8:20 am

Ken, these are stunning! Absolutely stunning and gorgeous! Your story made me smile and then brought tears to my eyes. You are the perfect son…. x

Barbara @ Barbara Bakes June 16, 2012 at 8:40 am

Such a sweet loving post and a fabulous little dessert!

Deb June 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

A wonderful tribute to your father! I enjoyed reading your story as much as I was tempted by the seductive chocolate, almond cake.
A splendid post!

Sasha @ The Procrastobaker June 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm

What a lovely post, and my goodness that cake looks beyond beautiful! Rather tasty too I bet :)

Denise June 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm

What a special little story and what a gorgeous, gorgeous cake! It’s almost to beautiful to eat. Almost yes, bcause it sounds aboslutely delicious!

Denise June 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm

and that’s ‘absolutely’, of course. That cake was distracting me;)

Gail June 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Ken, this is such a beautiful and loving tribute to your dad. Even without the cake, it’s a wonderful post.

But I’m glad there is cake.


Val June 17, 2012 at 6:54 am

Beautiful Kenny. Both your story & the cake.

Now… would you consider coming to my place & teaching my boy-os some table manners? B/c I’m failing miserably in the department…

Shumaila June 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

This looks beautiful!! Would love to try it out. Pinning it!

Margaret June 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm

What wonderful memories of your dad! You must’ve looked so cute and determined to fill those cigars. This cake is gorgeous. Thanks for a glimpse of your childhood. It made me smile to picture a little Hungry Rabbit running around. xo

Bunkycooks June 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm

This is a lovely tribute to your father. It is so important for parents to teach their children about manners and the finer things in life, including great food. That is wonderful you were encouraged early on to pursue what you loved. This cake is gorgeous and much thanks can go to your dad for that! :-)

Adrienne April 12, 2013 at 9:58 am

I loved reading about your father; he seems very similar to my grandfather, a true gentleman (something of a lost art in today’s world). Can’t wait to try your recipe!

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