Never Too Many Almonds!


Today’s dessert is for almond lovers only, but isn’t that pretty much everyone?  As it is, few people have a greater affinity for almond than do the Spanish, who not only grow the nut in orchards throughout the country, but who also started California’s championship almond industry when they settled the territory.  It’s only fitting, then, that Spaniards invented a beautifully fragrant cake, Torta de Santiago, that celebrates all that is almond.

The recipe made it into the September/October 2018 Milk Street magazine, and not only is the top layered with a generous serving of almonds, but the cake itself is made from almond flour, not wheat flour.  Not only does this amplify the sweet almond-y profile, but it makes this gluten-free, which concerns more than one of you.  Finally came the personal decision to add a splash or two of Disaronno, which accented all the other almonds and makes the cake even moister.

Not to worry.  Though the liqueur is from neighboring Italy, Spain reclaims its honor with a fresh dollop of sherry-infused whipped cream.  Nice enough on its own, but taken together with a bite of cake, it’s superb.  The sherry’s sweetness accompanies the almonds’ haunting melody.  So much so, that it seems to have been invented just for that purpose.

Then there’s the crust.  As the cake bakes, the turbinado sugar and the sliced almonds that top the dessert merge together to form a thin layer that’s simultaneously crunchy and chewy.  It’s almost a paper-thin almond brittle, which toasted almonds make all the more satisfying.  This also provides a pleasing textural contrast with the tender cake and the smooth dollop of sherry cream.

It comes together to create a confection that subtly plays off the almond’s sweetness.  This is a dessert for adults.  The sweetness is nuanced and sophisticated, going perfectly with the sherry-infused cream.  Almond cake, almond britle and almond liqeure prove that the more almonds, the better.

*****

Torta de Santiago

(Spanish Almond Cake)

  • 1 cup, plus two tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, plus 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 taspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (*1)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (*2)

Place a rack at middle height in the oven and preheat to 350°.  Lin a 9-inch round baking pan with parchment paper and spritz it all with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the white sugar, eggs, salt and both extracts until well-combined, about thirty seconds.  Add the almond flour and whisk to combine.  Pour the batter into the cake pan you prepared.

Sprinkle the top evenly with almonds and turbinado sugar, and bake for 50 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack for fifteen minutes, then remove cake from pan, discard the parchment paper, slice and serve with Sherry Whipped Cream (recipe below).

NOTES:

1 –  Instead, I use a couple teaspoons of Disaronno.  After all, almond extract is mainly alcohol anyway, and the cordial adds a nice flavor.

2 – The original recipe specifies the sliced almonds be chopped.  Less work to leave them whole, and it gives the topping a nicer, more unified texture.

*****

Sherry Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sherry

Put a mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer.  After fifteen minutes, attach the bowl and the whisk to the mixer and pour the cream into the bowl.  Pour in the powdered sugar and mix at low speed, until the two combine.  With motor still running, pour in the sherry. Gradually increase motor speed to high an whip until cream is light and fluffy, and stiff peaks form, about ten minutes.  Spoon a dollop onto each plate, or use a pastry bag.

33 thoughts on “Never Too Many Almonds!

    1. Thanks, Tamara!

      Not only do almonds please the taste buds, but they’re a superfood, benefitting all manner of body parts.

      Plus, they’re among peach’s relatives. Quite a family they’ve got there.

      Like

    1. Much appreciated, Kate! Almond flour is a pleasant surprise, as I doubted it would be as effective as is conventional wheat flour. That it’s used to make almond cake is an added coincidence, a bonus. Anyway, a bag of almond flour now has a home in my pantry!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope, Jennifer. Worse yet, I didn’t even know it existed!

      Geez, give a state a few vineyards, and suddenly everyone living there knows all about wine!

      Wait…shouldn’t I know this too, then? I used to live in Orange County. Obviously, been on the East Coast far too long now!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I made something similar once and even ground my own almond flour in the food processor. It was absolutely delicious. The addition of disaronno and Sherry whipped cream sounds like a great idea! 😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, major “from scratch” kudos, JoAnn!

      Being distilled near almond groves gives the drinks a certain…quality, don’t you think?

      Disaronno, naturally, as it’s almond-based, but sherry gets in on the act too. The same water that fortifies almond trees also goes into the booze. There has to be a connection!.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The picture is amazing as usual, but I especially love the title of this post! Never too many almonds. Almonds are like ambrosia, DIVINE 🙂
    And, ok, can I please to take a minute….
    [she stares at the post… stares.. stares and stares some more in reverence. Sighs in content]
    IT IS A SPANISH RECIPEEEEEEEEEE!!! YAYYYYYY
    [she does the happy dance]
    And, the “Sherry” on top so perfect!
    Love the introduction of the post! Love everything about the post!
    Thank you for honoring Spain with this fantastic post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Thank you much, Daniela!

      More like, Spain honors me with its fantastic recipes. So much still to explore. We haven’t seen the last of Spanish cuisine. No, not even close. As long as this site still draws breath…

      France gets all the attention (not entirely without justification), yet Spain and Italy offer their own stunning artistry. Plus, they’re less known and thus, there’s so much more to discover. Superb and unexplored – a great combination if you ask me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Naturally. We all have our predilections.

        I’m significantly of British descent myself, and one of my goals is to show people that English cooking and Colonial American cookery aren’t as awful as may be imagined.

        Part of that, no doubt, reflects my heritage, but part comes from the thrill of a challenge, to resolve unjust aspersions.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. oh that reminds me K of a youtube channel that has become a top fav of mine! “English Heritage” it’s a cooking channel the victorian way! i LOVE IT! wondering if you’ve seen it and what u think about it

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, I haven’t, Daniela, though your recommendation is enough to launch a full investigation. I’ll have to give you a report.

        We’ve known each other for, what, nearly two years now? Based on your tastes, I think I’m going to enjoy the channel too!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. oh wow that long??? time flies when one is having fun! can’t wait to see your report! I JUST finished watching 3 more episodes! Nesselrode Cream, Christmas Gin Punch, and Christmas cake

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Daniela, I love these videos – thanks so much for telling me about them! Just finished watching three: Butter, Gingerbread Cake and Apple Dumplings. There’s so much to share with you. Where to begin?

        First of all, everything required so much work, and this was in an upper-class, well-supplied kitchen. How many hours of churning and patting to produce butter? Truly, after watching this video, never again will I complain about how “difficult” a recipe is.

        I watched “Gingerbread Cake” because that’s exactly what I baked last weekend. Surprisingly, my recipe produced cake as good as what they prepared on “English Heritage,” maybe even a bit better. To be fair, though, we have access to so many more spices than were available 140 years ago. Plus, I added a bottle of Guinness, and that never hurts!

        Finally, Apple Dumplings were a surprise. Who knew cooks wrapped the apples in cloths and boiled them? No cinnamon, either. Oh, those poor people!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. lol exactly what I thought! I was surprised by the apples too! and also thought If this is the wealthy, can’t imagine how hard for the less fortunate. i will never complain again either! Glad you enjoyed them!

        Liked by 1 person

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