Almond-cherry-chocolate layer cake

Whenever summer rolls around, some of my favorite ingredients to work with include lychees, peaches, rhubarb, and cherries. I wanted to make a dessert that showcases fresh cherries, but I did not want to make another cherry tart, since I spent an entire summer making way too many of those. So instead, I went the cake route, since when in doubt, bake a cake. I went with a chocolate-almond cake, using almond flour and milk in the batter, a chocolate mousse with sea salt, and fresh cherries. This dessert is extremely simple, truth be told, and maybe has a difficulty level of 2 out of 10, so I can guarantee you that it is fairly easy and drama-free to make! Oh, and it’s completely vegan!

For the chocolate cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 cups almond milk
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups canola oil

Mix everything together into a smooth batter. Pour onto a parchment-lined sheet tray and spread the batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes. Cool down the cake completely before cutting two 6-inch rounds of cake, and two half rounds.

For the almond soak:
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Mix together. Keep cold for assembly.

For the chocolate mousse:
2 cups dark chocolate chips
16 oz silken tofu
a pinch of salt

Drain the water in the tofu. Puree just the tofu into a liquid. Melt down your chocolate chips over a double boiler with the salt and fold into that the pureed tofu. Once everything is incorporated, transfer the tofu mixture into a piping bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the simple syrup:
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
a pinch of salt

Dissolve ingredients together. Refrigerate until cold to the touch.

To garnish:
Fresh cherries, pitted and halved

Toss one third of the cherries in the simple syrup. Line a 6-inch ring mold with acetate. Place in the two half-rounds of cake and pour in the soak. Spread on the mousse and sprinkle in the unglazed cherries. Repeat these steps with a regular round of cake. For the last layer, place on the last round, then pour on your soak, and top on your mousse and garnish with the glazed cherries. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

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