This is my favorite cake. All 21 layers of it. It has been since my mitten-wearing years. My mom used this intricately layered almond and chocolate cake as an activity for us kids – something to keep us busy on rainy mornings, when crayons had lost their interest. It is single-handedly responsible for my obsession with almond paste (and it’s sweeter counterpart, marzipan).
The original recipe might as well be called “the dance of dirty bowls.” I took a hacksaw to the method, removing five extra bowls. Your baby soft hands will thank you. The best part? No cake goodness was harmed in the streamlining of this recipe.
NOTE: You need two days to make this cake because the cake needs to chill in the fridge overnight.
All ingredients should be room temperature
1 1/2 cups almond paste, tightly packed (12 oz)
6 Tbsp half & half
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp), softened
1 cup sugar
10 eggs, separated (put the whites in a bowl big enough to whip them up to stiff peaks)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
10 0z jar apricot jam
1 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped.
For the chocolate glaze:
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp rum, preferably dark
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Any recipe that includes almond paste has my heart. Fun fact: I always have almond paste on hand; it keeps indefinitely in an air tight container in the fridge. For years, even.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste with half and half, one tablespoon at a time. It will resemble mashed potatoes when you’re done.
Next, beat in softened butter until fluffy, scraping the bowl to make sure its all mixed in.
I dare you not to sneak one (or fifteen) tastes of this batter.
Next, beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides. Ponder the square root of 48. Sneak another taste of the batter.
Next, incorporate the happy balls of sunshine, one at a time.
Don’t forget to splash in the vanilla. You can never have too much vanilla. Be sure to dab a little on your wrists and behind your ears.
Next, sift in the flour and cornstarch in thirds. Beat until well incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed.
Next, beat the egg whites until they make stiff peaks, but aren’t dry. This is where it’s nice to own a hand mixer, since the standing mixer has your other ingredients in it.
Let’s play a game. What do you see in these egg whites? I see a ram’s head.
Once you’re done day dreaming, fold the egg whites into the batter until it looks and tastes like an almond paste cloud.
How to bake the cake:
Now for the fun part. Get your broiling shoes on.
Turn on the broiler and let it warm up for a few minutes. Meanwhile, grease and line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper. Use more butter than I did, or your paper will curl.
Next, spread 1/4 cup of batter in the bottom of the pan.
Broil this layer until deep golden brown.
Then, add another 1/4 cup batter. Spread it out with a brush and broil, as before.
NOTE: Get your layers browner than pictured below or the layers won’t be distinct. If you look at my final cake pictures, you’ll see I eventually went darker with the layers. The highest ones show up much better than the ones at the very bottom of the cake.
After repeating this step a few times, spread a layer with a bit of apricot jam. Continue making a few layers of cake to every layer of jam, until half the jam is used up.
Be sure to push the batter evenly around so the cake remains flat. Doming cakes are forbidden. You can correct as you go.
The next day: bedazzle the cake
Spread the top and sides of cake with the remaining half of apricot jam. Set in refrigerator while making chocolate glaze.
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add corn syrup (if you have a non corn syrup glaze recipe, I’d be interested in seeing it)…
…vanilla extract and rum. Dark rum is better but I didn’t have any. Simmer a few minutes to let the ingredients mingle.
Remove from heat and toss in the chocolate chips. Be sure to replace any casualties that get lost in your mouth along the way. Cover five minutes, or until the chocolate is completely softened.
Stir the glaze until glossy and pour evenly over top and sides of cake. The sides can be ugly – they’ll get covered with almonds. Hurrah for that!
Press crushed almonds over the sides and outer edge of cake. Refrigerate to set the glaze.
Slice… and serve with a giant smile. You did it!
Enjoy on a rainy day, with a cup of hot tea, a garden view and some dreamy piano music. I like it best straight from the refrigerator, with a chilly nip to it, although you could eat it room temperature, too.
This is a dense, rich cake. Small slices are recommended but not required.
Enjoy this, your very own fairy tale… with a view of another, German one.