The week before Thanksgiving my friend Tallee posted this on Facebook:
Tallee was very generous with her cake - she not only shared it with me but she took what was left of it to church and shared it with more friends. When my cake was almost out of the oven I realized there was no way we would be able to eat all of it so I called up the people Tallee had shared her cake with and asked them to come and taste the one I made, you know, to do a little cake-testing-comparison-tasting...it's fascinating how quickly people will come for cake.
Underneath those beautiful almonds is a thick layer of vanilla pastry cream sandwiched between two moist layers of white cake which were generously covered with vanilla butter cream frosting ...it's a mouthful and definitely worthy of 5 dangs on the Dang Meter...this one is dang, dang, dang, dang, dang good! Make it for Christmas - it will be the perfect ending to your Christmas feast!
(Joyce, this needs to be your Christmas dessert this year - quit looking for desserts and forget about what you might have wanted to make - this is a show-stopper and you'll love it!)
Burnt Almond Torte - Adapted from Lincoln Kretchmar, Kretchmar's Bakery, Beaver PA
For the cake:
1 white cake mix, baked according to package directions, cooled
two 8-inch square (or round) cake pans
For the pastry cream:
2 cups half-n-half
1/2 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the almond topping:
1/4 cup coarse sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons water
For the Vanilla Butter-cream Frosting:
1 lb. powdered sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
First, make the pastry cream: Heat the half-n-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch untill combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
When the half-n-half mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk a couple of tablespoons of the simmering half-n-half mixture into the yolk mixture to temper. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 2 hours.
Make the cake, according to directions on the box. Allow to cool and set aside until pastry cream is cool and almonds are made and cooled.
Make the almonds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine the almonds, sugar and water, toss to coat. Spread onto a large baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven until golden brown, about 7 to 8 minutes, watching closely so they don't burn.
Make the vanilla butter-cream frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed, with the whisk attachment, combine all of the ingredients. Increase speed to high and whip until frosting is creamy and smooth and light, about 5 minutes. (The frosting needs to have a soft and spreadable consistency, you can add either more milk to thin it or more powdered sugar to thicken it, if needed.)
To assemble the cake: (The recipe I followed called for the cake layers to be split so there would be three layers of pastry cream and 4 cake layers. I opted not to do that although it would have made a wonderful presentation! I put the pastry cream between the two layers, and used about half of it. I used the remaining pastry cream in another recipe.) So...either split your layers and put pastry cream on top of each layer as you stack them or put the pastry cream between the two layers of cake and use your remaining cream for something else - like eating it with a spoon. Put on a thin layer of butter-cream frosting, a crumb-coat, and then refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes, until the frosting is set and firm. (This seals the cake and helps make the frosting go on more smoothly.)
When cake is ready to be frosted, generously cover it with butter-cream. Take the almonds in your hand and gently press them into the sides of the cake/frosting. Sprinkle toasted almonds over the top of the cake. Serves 9 to 12, depending on how big the slices are.
Sorry, I neglected to take a pic of the cake after it had been sliced...it disappeared too quickly for me to get a picture! Dang good, my friends, dang good!
One year ago: Blue-Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
Two years ago: Eggnog Pound Cake
Three years ago: Bad Things Come in Threes
Four years ago: Salted Caramel Bars
Five years ago: Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
Six years ago: Foodie Books to Give or Books to Give to Foodies