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It’s almost embarrassing how easy this cake is to make, but the impression it makes on dinner guests is palpable. With a rum-syrup soaked interior, delicious almond-studded chocolate ganache covering the entire cake, it surprises a lot.

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And like I said, very easy to put together, though it takes time. Toast the almonds (15 minutes), grind the almonds in the food processor, bake the cake 30-40 minutes, let it cool for 20 minutes, make the rum syrup (3 minutes), apply the rum syrup then wait for an hour. Finally, make the ganache, let it rest for three minutes, apply the ganache then chill in the fridge for at least thirty minutes. From first scoop of flour to putting the cake into its carrying case was an easy 2.5 hours minimum.

Pleased to see everyone grab a second slice, and the homemade mango ice cream also turned out to be a hit, as well.

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The occasion was Sunday, my one day off that week, and we also had a delicious lamb stew by friend Bruno and I contributed my duck confit du canard as well. And lots of wine. And Astrid’s Salad rounded dinner out for a very protein-rich evening.

For an appetizer, I concocted a small wheel of French sheep’s cheese covered with fig spread and almonds, then wrapped up in a pastry shell. Turned out remarkably well after about 17 minutes at 350 degrees. All enjoyed it with gusto save ‘one’ who made mild protestations about the ‘sheepiness’ and slightly unctuous nature of the cheese (love you, kid–she has an excellent palate inhibited only by her general distaste for foods whose tastes or smells have ‘character’).

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