Tag Archives: almond cake

White Almond Petit Fours

White Almond Petit FoursI’ve made petit fours for a couple of Easters over the last few years, and I think I might finally be getting the hang of them. These tiny, poured fondant-glazed cakes are a childhood favorite of mine, but past attempts to make them have driven me to dark places. When I tested the carrot cake version I had to take a day off of work to recover! It’s taken me two years to give petit fours another go, and while I expected some agony, these White Almond beauties were surprisingly fun and simple to make.

Don’t get me wrong—these are still a labor of love, but they weren’t backbreaking, day-ruining work this time, and I think I know why. I took my time, y’all. I didn’t rush a thing. Every step in this process was done when I had the time and energy. While you can certainly make these over the course of a single day, the batch pictured was assembled over four days with lots of down time. It was leisurely and practically luxurious as far as petit fours go.White Almond Petit FoursLet me lay it out for you. On Monday, I made the cake—a sprinkle-free, rectangular version of this white bundt recipe—and then refrigerated it. Tuesday is my long day every week, so nothing happened petit four-wise.

On Wednesday, I trimmed the cake, painted on an almond simple syrup, and adhered a thin sheet of marzipan to the top. Then I popped the whole thing back into the fridge.White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit FoursThe next day (Thursday), I trimmed the edges and cut the cake into 1 1/2-inch squares. Since marzipan is moldable, I scored my squares before slicing—it made the whole process super simple.

Next up, I made the poured fondant coating, which is really just melting a whole bunch of things together. Usually coating is my least favorite part of this process, but these weren’t much trouble. I think using cold, dense-crumbed bundt cake was the secret to my success here—it held together so well that I was able to coat these squares by dipping instead of fiddling with squeeze bottles.White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit FoursMy process went something like this. I stuck a fork in the bottom of a petit four and dipped it in the warm fondant, quickly moving the bowl around to cover the sides. Then I used another fork to help ease the petit four onto a rack to set before moving onto the next.* I had a few casualties, but the solution was to slightly reheat the fondant and keep going. Make no mistake, this was still a tedious process, but it’s nothing compared to the squeeze bottle nightmares of petit fours past! Are there a few crumbs on these little cakes? Sure! But perfection is the enemy of joy here. Also, toasted almond flowers are quite handy for hiding flaws. Aren’t they pretty? I’m obsessed.

*Here’s a video from another baker whose process is similar to my own.White Almond Petit FoursAs far as flavor goes, White Almond Petit Fours are sweet almond through and through! If you love marzipan, these are for you. The cake is dense and moist, the marzipan somehow both melts and remains distinct, and the fondant is almost too much…but it’s also not enough. I always need a second petit four.White Almond Petit FoursThe petit fours of my childhood were super-sweet so I love the intensity here, but if you need some sharpness to cut through all the almond, you could soak the cake in a lemon syrup, or torte and fill it with a layer of raspberry jam or lemon curd. For me though, it’s all about that moist sweet almond cake, especially when enjoyed cold from the fridge at midnight on Easter Day. Or any day, really. I’m not picky.White Almond Petit Fours

White Almond Petit Fours
makes about 35 1 1/2-inch petit fours

Cake:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

Syrup:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Marzipan:
12 ounces prepared marzipan (not almond paste)

Poured Fondant:
2/3 cup hot tap water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces white chocolate chips
2 pounds (7 1/2 cups) confectioners sugar

Garnish:
sliced almonds
~3 tablespoons poured fondant

This recipe is long and requires many steps and chills. Please read through carefully before beginning.

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan and line with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, egg whites, vanilla, almond extract, sour cream and milk in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Use a thin, flexible knife to release cake, and then remove to a rack. Allow to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Remove cake from the refrigerator, unwrap and place on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to trim the top so that it’s even and the crumb is exposed. Discard (eat!) the scraps.

Make the syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Paint syrup all over the top of the cake. It will seem like too much, but it’s not.

Roll out the marzipan. Dust a surface and rolling pin with flour or confectioner’s sugar. Use your hands to form marzipan into a rectangle shape and place it on the surface. Use the rolling pin to roll marzipan into an 8×12-inch rectangle, lifting and turning it occasionally so it doesn’t stick to your surface.

Lay marzipan over the top of the cake so that the crumb is no longer exposed. Use rolling pin to roll over it lightly a few times to adhere. Wrap assembled cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 2 hours or up to a day.

Remove cake from the refrigerator to a large cutting board. Use a serrated knife to trim off crispy cake edges (about 1/4-inch on all sides). Slice cake into 1 1/2-inch squares. Freeze for 30 minutes while you prepare the poured fondant.

On a surface, place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment.

Make poured fondant. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together hot water, light corn syrup, and vanilla.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

Place white chocolate chips in the heatproof bowl. When water simmers, place bowl back over the water. Whisk until melted. Alternate adding confectioners sugar and liquid ingredients, whisking constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes (it works best around 100F).

Working quickly, stab a fork into the bottom of on petit four. Gently lower it into the fondant and manipulate the bowl so that the sides get some coverage. Use another fork or an offset icing spatula to remove the petit four off the fork and onto the prepared cooling rack. Re-warm fondant as needed by placing it back over the double boiler for a few minutes. Here is a video for clarity.

This process may also be done by filling a squeeze bottle with fondant and using it to cover the the top and sides of each square. Use an offset icing knife to adjust sides as necessary. This may be done with a spoon as well, although a squeeze bottle is simpler.

Let poured fondant set for about an hour. Reserve any excess fondant for decorating.

To decorate, toast almonds in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely. When petit fours have set, warm excess fondant slightly and load into a piping bag. Snip off a small corner and dot about a dime-size blob on top off one petit four, then immediately arrange five almond slices as a flower. Continue with remaining petit fours. Let set for another 20 minutes before serving.

Petit course may be served at room temperature or cold. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.

White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit Fours

Flourless Almond Cake

Flourless Almond CakeThis is my third gluten-free recipe in a row. As far as my inspiration goes, when it rains, it pours.Flourless Almond CakeYou might think that since I kept it for last, it’s subpar in some way. Quite the opposite—Flourless Almond Cake is really something special. It’s one of those recipes you’ll want to have in your repertoire not only because it’s grain-free and relatively quick and simple, but because it can adapt to any occasion. It’s as perfect for a dinner party as it is for a cookout or taking to a friend who needs a pick-me-up. The holidays are still a while away, but I can imagine this cake being a welcome addition to any dessert spread.
Flourless Almond CakeBut it’s barely August and I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me show you how this cake comes together.Flourless Almond CakeIt starts by measuring out some blanched almond flour. I measure using the spoon & level method, as I do with all my dry ingredients. It’s just what it sounds like—spoon the almond flour into the measuring cup until it heaps over the top, then level it with the flat edge of a table knife.Flourless Almond CakeFlourless Almond Cake This may sound tedious if you’ve never done it before, but it only takes a few seconds longer than other common volume-based measuring techniques. While it’s appealing to scoop ingredients with a measuring cup directly, it may cause your final product to be too dense.Flourless Almond CakePut your almond flour in a large mixing bowl and mix in some light brown sugar, salt, and touches of cinnamon and nutmeg. Next come four egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts, and a little butter. You may certainly just use plain melted butter here, but I like to use brown butter for the extra toasty flavor it imparts.Flourless Almond CakeNext up, wash and dry your mixer attachment and whip four egg whites to stiff peaks. Don’t skip the wash/dry step or your egg whites won’t whip, and you’ll be cursing my name while you separate four more eggs. I tried bypassing this step and using the egg whites as-is, and the result was a dense, flat cake. No, thanks.Flourless Almond CakeFlourless Almond CakeStir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture before gently folding in the rest.Flourless Almond CakePour the batter into a prepared pan, scatter sliced almonds over the top, and bake until the center is firm.Flourless Almond CakeFlourless Almond CakeTurn the cake out onto a serving platter and let it cool completely. Slice it up and serve it any way you see fit.Flourless Almond CakeLike Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, this cake toes the line between celebration cake and everyday cake, and it does it with style. The soft, sweet cake and elegant sliced almond top are party-ready on their own or with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. Or you could add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle caramel over the top. As you can see, I am partial to a little whipped cream and a side of seasonal fruit.Flourless Almond CakeNo matter which suggestion you go with, this simple little cake is sure to be a winner.Flourless Almond Cake

Flourless Almond Cake
makes one 8-inch round cake

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (measured by spoon & level)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup raw sliced almonds

For Serving:
whipped cream
seasonal fruit

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch round pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 3-6 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately transfer the brown butter into a small bowl. Set aside.

Separate egg yolks from whites. Set whites aside.

Combine almond flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed to mix the ingredients together—this will take all of 15 seconds. Add egg yolks, brown butter, vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined. It will be very thick, almost like cookie dough.

Wash and dry mixer attachments, along with a medium mixing bowl. I also like to wipe down the equipment with vinegar, just to ensure that everything is completely clean before I add the egg whites. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.

Transfer egg whites to the very clean, dry medium mixing bowl. Use the very clean, dry electric mixer to whip them until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture. Gently fold half the remaining egg whites into the mixture, followed by the other half.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Scatter sliced almonds over the top. Bake for 21-23 minutes, or until firm in the center.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before running a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the cake. Invert cake onto a clean plate. Remove parchment. Revert onto a serving plate or cakestand. Let cool completely before slicing. Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit, if desired.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Flourless Almond Cake