Len Lo has been to ALL of my DCF events. I’m proud to say that she’s now a part of my biggest event yet.
Elaine “Len” Lo is a frequent visitor to this site and she’s attended almost all of my events: the very first Dessert Comes First party, cookbook swap, my and baking demo. She’s one of my most loyal and supportive readers. I’m grateful to have her as a reader and friend. She’s also an exceptional baker and makes the one chocolate cake that I compare almost every other similar cake to.
When I first tried Len’s Almond Toffee Crunch Cake (above, cover photo), I wanted to give a slice of it to every baker that’s ever given me a sample of their chocolate cake to try. Every baker thinks their chocolate cake is the bomb but Len’s cake stands on its own, an example of contrast and continuity. A chocolate cake can be so boring, especially if it’s just straight-up cake and endlessly smooth.
Len’s cake on the other hand, is a chocolate cake alright but mingling and mixing in it are layers of chocolate cream to keep monotony at bay. Sufficiently lavish, it embraces and then suddenly, shards of almond toffee, a brittle-like candy, disturb my chocolate reverie with its resounding crunch of sugar and nuts. All senses are suddenly stimulated a second time. What a rush! This is my type of chocolate cake: enough textural variety that makes every bite beguile.
Len also makes the best chocolate pound cake. Pound cakes, as befits their name, are generally dense and tightly-crumbed affairs. Len’s cake turns that maxim on its head by offering up a cake that’s by definition, still a pound cake but is feather-soft; how she achieves this I haven’t a clue. Imagine the whisper of a cake crumb, what I call a “downy” mouthfeel, like liquid velvet but with more structure. It possesses a chocolate flavor that sits on the tongue, expanding ever so gently. Eating this cake is like trying to eat a chocolate bar that’s melting faster than I can eat it. The comparison can’t be denied.
To complete this chocolate triumvirate are Len’s chocolate sablés (SAH-blays). Sablé is French for “sand,” and texturally, these are similar to shortbread but with various ingredient proportions. I’d definitely choose coffee to pair with this cookie, as the beverage mans up to the grittiness of sugar intersecting with chocolate bits and the crumbly texture, underpinned all by a resonant chocolate flavor.