I’m pretty certain I acquired my love of marzipan and all things almond from growing up in the frozen Midwest with all those German-Norwegian bakeries that would make and sculpt their own adorable marzipan “fruits” and creatures not to mention lovingly encasing it in buttery, flaky pastries, pies, and toothy cakes. Actually, if a financier and a sponge cake had a love child, it would probably be this cake–more almond-y and with much less fuss and preparation. In fact, except for the trick of unmolding it, it’s dangerously easy to make which could spell disaster for your waistline and arteries so I like to make it in tartlet form and share the
calories wealth 😀 For the most part, I haven’t modified this recipe from the original one by Bon Appétit much except for swapping out kirsch brandy for amaretto to get more of that almond flavor and changing table salt for sea salt cuz that’s what lives in my pantry. Unless you’re a die hard hater of almonds, even people who are so-so about this assertively flavored nut are won over by the buttery, almond-y taste and crispy edges with moist, chewy innards. Oh, and the smell. This is one of those times where you really want the interwebs to be equipped with smell-o-vision, not that I’ve been known to hyperventilate while huffing one of these babies. No siree, nope, nope.
Just in case you were wondering…
1) Flour is flour, right? Can’t I just substitute all-purpose for cake flour or just put in a little less? Actually, part of the chewy, tender appeal of this cake is from the cake flour. Cake flour has about half as much protein or gluten as all-purpose (~6% vs 11%) which means that your chemical reaction and physical structure will be different. A lower gluten content flour with give you a tender crumb cuz there’s less protein to make a firm structural matrix (less baking I-beams and re-bar as it were). This is also why I haven’t done any of my Greek yogurt/fat reduction. You need all that butter (and sugar) to further block what little gluten there is from making anything super stable especially since you have all that protein from the almonds. So just be generous with your friends and neighbors and take the stairs instead of the elevator for a bit 😉
2) Really? An entire stick of butter and then I have to butter the pans too? Yup. Even if you have silicone molds like I do, this is a really sticky batter so greasing and flouring is the way to go unless you want a raggy looking cake and tartlets/enjoy digging your dessert out of the baking pan with a spoon 😦
3) And just in case you’re interested, almond paste has about 40% more almonds in it than marzipan, otherwise they both have sugar, glucose syrup, and water (45% ground almonds vs 28%).
8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
7-oz package almond paste, in 1-inch pieces
3 large eggs
1 tbsp amaretto
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 c cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Powdered sugar, optional
Preheat oven to between 325F and 350F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan or tartlet pan then dust with flour (all-purpose is fine) and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt then set aside.
Beat butter till pale and fluffy then beat in sugar. Add 1/3 of almond paste pieces and beat into butter mixture. Repeat with remaining almond, 1/3 at a time, till well incorporated, it will be soft but look grainy.
Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, till well incorporated then mix in amaretto and almond extract. On low speed add flour mixture till just combined (no lumps or streaks of white visible). Spoon batter into pan and bake till golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. An 8-inch cake pan takes ~25-35 minutes while a silicone tartlet pan with six 3 x 1.5-inch wells takes ~14-18 minutes. Makes 12 tartlets. Even though the hubby was freezing up in Alaska for work, when he got back 4 days his Valentine’s almond cake was still tender and moist 🙂