Tamar Fasja Unikel, co-owner of Masa Madre bakery in Chicago, grew up in a tight-knit Jewish community in Mexico City where Passover was a very big deal. One of her aunts, Adela, started making this cake 35 years ago and it’s now a part of Unikel’s holiday table too. At Masa Madre she and her partner Elena Vazquez Felgueres pay homage to their Mexican heritage by frosting the cake with ganache enriched with the flavors of café de olla, a combination of ground coffee, piloncillo, and cinnamon. This cake gets better throughout the week, whether cold from the fridge or warmed before serving. It can be made parve/dairy-free by subbing in margarine or vegan butter for the butter and cream.
7 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 cup (150 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1¼ cups (125 g) raw pecans, plus chopped for serving
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (125 g) almond flour or meal
½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt
6 large eggs
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
GANACHE AND ASSEMBLY
1½ cups (150 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. finely ground espresso or other dark roast coffee
½ tsp. cinnamon, preferably Ceylon
½ tsp. grated piloncillo or light or dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Pinch of kosher salt
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 325°. Lightly butter a 9×5″ loaf pan; line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on long sides. Butter parchment. Combine chocolate and remaining 7 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. unsalted butter in a medium bowl and set over a large saucepan of simmering water (do not let bottom of bowl touch water). Heat chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat and set chocolate mixture aside.
Pulse pecans in a food processor until somewhat finely ground (it’s okay if there are some coarser pieces). Pulse in almond meal and salt; set aside.
Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the motor running, gradually stream in sugar and beat until mixture is very pale and nearly doubled in volume, about 1 minute. Stream in reserved chocolate mixture and beat until no streaks remain. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in reserved pecan mixture with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape bottom of bowl, until well incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and tap pan on counter to remove any air bubbles.
Bake cake, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in pan.
GANACHE AND ASSEMBLY
As soon as the cake is almost cool, place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring cream, corn syrup, coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo in a small saucepan to a faint simmer over medium heat. Pour over chocolate, whisking constantly until melted and smooth. Add butter and salt and whisk until butter is melted and ganache is shiny and smooth. Let cool until thickened slightly, 15–30 minutes.
Turn cake out onto a large plate or cake stand and turn right side up. Pour ganache over (it should flow over the sides but not quite hit the plate). Scatter chopped pecans over as desired; chill until ganache is set, 10–15 minutes.
As published in BONAPPETIT.COM