This light and airy almond crunch cake is the perfect sweet dessert for a birthday, baby shower, or bridal shower. Elegant and simple.
Picking my own birthday treat was so much harder than I thought it would be. There are so many options out there! The suggestions I got from you were all so very tempting. I had it narrowed down to margarita cupcakes, a peanut butter/chocolate concoction, or a Neapolitan style cake when my friend Michelle finally suggested the winner: Ann Frautchi's Almond Crunch Cake.
I've only had this cake one other time in my life. 14 years ago. And I could still taste it.
Michelle nannied for the Frautchi family while we were in college. Ann made this awesome dessert for a fancy party she hosted. I remembered the texture being so unique--light, creamy, and crunchy/chewy all rolled into one. It takes a very special dessert to stick in my memory after only one slice.
Once Michelle suggested it, I could not think of anything else. I had to have this cake. When she sent me the recipe, I knew it fit my requirements for being something a little more challenging. I consider myself a fairly savvy baker. Michelle on the other hand, can't follow a recipe to save her life. She is an amazing chef in the kitchen, but needs to follow her own path. Recipes are always tweaked. I figured if she could handle this cake, I could easily manage it.
Oh how wrong I was. I think I called her at least 3 times during the afternoon I made it with questions about the process.
My cake batter turned out perfectly but the baked cake stuck to my pan and had to be chiseled out with a knife.
I realized too late that I needed a candy thermometer for the topping and had to schedule in a trip to Target for the morning. The candy itself caused me to break out in a sweat from nerves, I've never ever made candy in my life. I'm happy to say it did actually turn out in the end though.
And the biggest lesson learned? Whipped cream is VERY forgiving. My cake was broken in 3 major pieces. I just slathered the whip cream all around and in between and it covered up a multitude of blemishes.
Now that I've made this dessert, I will definitely do it again. In my opinion, it is ideal for a ladies' luncheon type event. A shower, a birthday party, Mother's Day. It is decadent but so very light. A little bit like an angel food cake on steroids.
Thanks for the suggestion, Michelle. And thanks for the recipe, Ann. Two of the most spectacular hostesses I know!
Almond Crunch Cake
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar divided
- 8 eggs yolks and whites separated
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Almond Brittle Topping
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ¼ teaspoon instant coffee
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
Whipped Cream Frosting
- 2 ½ cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Almonds blanched, halved, and toasted
To bake the cake Cake:
- Sift together the flour and ¾ cup sugar. Make a well in the center, add the egg yolks, water, lemon juice, vanilla, and beat until smooth.
- Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment just until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar, 2 tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat until stiff. Fold flour mixture gently into the egg whites.
- Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan or two 2 quart baking pans. Do not grease the pan. Cut carefully through the batter, going around the tube 5 or 6 times with a knife, to break air bubbles.
- Bake at 350°F for 50-55 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan for 1 hour or until cool.
Almond Brittle Topping:
- Combine sugar, coffee, syrup, and water in a saucepan, stirring well. Cook to hard crack stage, 290°F, remove from heat. Add the soda. Stir vigorously until mixture blends and pulls away from sides of pan.
- Quickly pour onto a shallow baking sheet lined with a silicone liner. Let stand until cool. Knock out of pan and crush candy with a rolling pin into small chunks.
Whipped cream topping:
- Whip the cream and fold in the sugar and vanilla.
- Spread the whipped cream over the cake. Cover the top and sides with candy, lightly pressing into the cream.
- NOTE: Do not press candy and almonds into the cream more than 6 hours before serving. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Happy birthday! Looks like you celebrated in style with that wonderful cake. If you have remembered it after all these years, you have sold me on it. The pictures did help though :)--Buzz