Chez Panisse Almond Torte

Chez Panisse Almond Torte

Some of you know my sister Lindsey. Some of you have only read about her here and thus only know about her penchant for crust-based dishes — pies and quiches in particular — and her love for Peeps and leftovers.

Let me tell you a little bit more. Lindsey, while a wonderful cook, doesn’t quite share the enthusiasm for cooking that many of the women in my family do. She doesn’t go to bed with a full belly dreaming about what she might cook up tomorrow morning nor does she subscribe to a single cooking magazine; to her, nothing could be more boring than a tv program on cooking and a discussion about recipes might send her straight into another room; and she has been known on more than one occasion to exclaim, “Why does everything have to be such a production?!”

The older I get, I tend to agree with this last statement more and more. It’s the simplest meals with the most minimal cleanups that leave everyone the happiest.

I should also note that Lindsey is a doctor, has two children, plays in an orchestra and is far too busy to spend time toiling in the kitchen. That said, a few days ago I called her and much to my surprise discovered she had been in the kitchen whipping up an almond torte in preparation for a few visitors.

“Little Lindis!” I exclaimed. (Yes, my sister is 32, and I still call her by her childhood nickname. We also still chase each other up the stairs and shriek in fear when we get together…that’s normal, right?) “I am so impressed.”

“Oh please,” she replied. “It’s so easy. It’s the only thing I make anymore.”

My sister (and the family as a result) has been making this torte since 1997, when she discovered the recipe in my mother’s copy of Chez Panisse Desserts, which is now in my possession. Truly, this almond torte, made entirely in the food processor, is one of the simplest and most delicious desserts you could ever prepare. It’s definitely for almond/marzipan lovers and like the orange-and-olive oil cake and Teddy’s apple cake, tastes better with each passing day, so don’t be afraid to make it a day or two in advance if you’re preparing for a holiday gathering.

Dusted with powdered sugar, nothing will look more elegant on your dessert table. I hope all of your holiday preparations are going well.

Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook

Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook

ingredients

I am not partial to any particular brand of almond paste, but if you can find a 7-oz box (which seems to be standard), that is ideal for this recipe:
almond paste

This torte is made entirely in the food processor. First the almond paste and sugar are blended:
sugar and almond paste buzzed in food processor

Then the butter and vanilla are added:
butter added to cuisinart

and blended:
butter blended

Then the eggs are added one at time. This is what the finished batter looks like:
batter, finished

powdered-sugar covered almond torte

Almond Torte

Source: Chez Panisse Desserts

Author Lindsey Shere’s notes: Serve this torte with a cup of coffee or tea or a glass of Sherry, or better, an Italian Aleatico or Passito. It is also good with sliced peaches or nectarines and crème anglaise.

1¼ cups sugar
⅞ cup (7 oz./200g) soft almond paste*
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract (optional)
6 eggs
1 cup (4.5 oz/130g) flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

powdered sugar for dusting

*First of all, be sure to buy almond paste versus marzipan, which are often placed next to each other in the baking aisle. Second, the recipe in Chez Panisse Desserts calls for 8oz of almond paste, but we have always just used one of those tubes that usually weighs 7oz. If you don’t have a scale and can’t find a 7-oz tube of almond paste, measure out the 7/8 cup, but don’t pack it too tightly.

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Beat the sugar with the almond paste until the almond paste is in fine pieces. Or, better, pulverize it in a food processor. Beat in the butter and the vanilla, then cream the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the whole eggs, one at a time — the eggs should be at room temperature — beating well after each addition so the eggs are thoroughly mixed in.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat in just until thoroughly blended.

3. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and turn the batter into it, smoothing the top evenly. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours (mine baked for 1¼ hours) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the center feels springy when you push it gently.

4. Let cool for about 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the springform pan.

Comments

  1. says

    That cookbook is such a gem! You can tell it has been well loved! I make that cake for my husband’s birthday every year. I love that it gets better the longer it sites, but it is hard to keep it around for very long.

  2. Liz says

    This is such a wonderful recipe! Be sure to buy almond paste and not marzipan, which often lie side by side on the grocery shelf. I made this and think it is wonderful mid-morning with coffee, at teatime, and for dessert. It is elegant and everyone loves it! In my family that means the two-year olds as well as the ninety-two year olds.

      • Kate says

        As a note to the marzipan vs. almond paste thing, apparently I bought marzipan thinking it was almond paste both times I made this recipe (this is what happens when you live in a country where you don’t speak the language very well!) but it still turned out delicious. I’m not even sure if they have just plain almond paste here, but if you can’t find it, I think marzipan works in a pinch.

  3. Foodelf says

    I’ve had this book for over 20 years and my copy is similarly festooned with splashes and stains = Love. If I had to choose just one dessert book this would be it.

  4. says

    My lovely neighbors invited me over for a holiday dinner last week. This is so simple and sounds so delicious I think it’ll be the perfect thank you for them. I like the fact that it gets better with time so they don’t have to consume it all at once. Although one never knows :) Do you think that this would work well in mini loaf pans? I’d like to make some small gifts for several friends who’ve been very kind over the last year.

    • says

      Christine! What a lovely gift. I can’t say for sure because I’ve never tried, but I think the cake would do well in mini pans just as long as they aren’t too deep, which might affect the baking time. Otherwise, I say go for it. This is the nicest treat to have on hand this time of year. I have been waking up every morning with a slice and winding down every evening with another. Happy Holidays!

    • says

      Nicole — a cake pan definitely can be used. I advise lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, which might help you remove it if you want to do so. Otherwise, just butter the pan and serve/store the cake in the pan. My food processor is 14 cups. I don’t know how to advise. I suppose you could pulse the mixture in batches?

    • Heather says

      For Nicole and others,
      I also have a 7-cup machine, and it is too small to make the whole recipe, although you can use it to combine the sugar and almond paste, and then transfer that to a mixer for the next steps. It’s a little more trouble, of course, but at least the food processor will do the important job of breaking up the almond paste well with the sugar. This seems to be quite a forgiving recipe, but getting the almond paste well mixed with is other ingredients is necessary. I just love this, and I am so grateful you posted it, Alexandra! A new favorite–the aroma is almost as good as the taste (I use a full teaspoon of almond extract along with the vanilla). I’ll be making it this week for our family Easter celebration. One other tweak I make sometimes is to use a little brownulated sugar to replace some of the white sugar–say a third of a cup. It just seems to warm the flavor a little.

  5. Anna says

    This is my all time favorite cake. Absolutely luscious with sliced peaches over it.

    Nicole – I use a Bundt pan and it comes out fine. Just spray well with oil/flour cooking spray.

  6. Sylvia says

    Made this today and it is wonderful. It rose more than I thought it would from your pictures and it doesn’t seem as moist inside as yours. Still delicious and will make again.

    • says

      Sylvia — oddly this happened to mother over the holidays. Since this had never happened before, she was both perplexed and annoyed. She did say that she had gotten distracted while mixing and let the mixture whip in the cuisinart longer than normal, which is really no time at all — just until everything is incorporated. Did you happen to whip everything for more than just a quick blend? Also, my mother baked the torte, for no apparent reason, in her smaller springform pan — 8 inches in diameter — which you would think would have made it denser, but it in fact was lighter and puffier than ever, which is not actually the desirable texture for the cake. Very strange. Im sorry this happened! It’s always frustrating when things don’t turn out as planned.

  7. says

    Sylvia — I just spoke with my mother about this issue, and she told me she realized it was because she used only 1 stick of butter, versus 2. Could you have possibly made the same mistake — used 1 stick vs. 1 cup of butter?

  8. Trisha says

    This is my absolute favorite!! I always had this on my birthday growing up :). FYI it works just as well with a little less almond paste – We’ve never been able to make it and not steal a few nibbles of almond paste in the process ;).

    • says

      Sana — I am not familiar unfortunately when it comes to cooking for diabetics. In addition to cutting back the sugar, what else would I need to keep in mind? Or do you have to use sugar replacements for the sugar? Let me know and I will brainstorm. Wish I could offer more guidance here.

  9. Shanna says

    Hey I live in Belgium and we only have marzipan (50% almonds 50%sugar) what is almond paste then? Just blended almonds?

    • says

      Vicki, I cant say for sure because I have never used gluten-free flour in this, but I think it’s probably a great recipe to use g-f flour because it calls for a relatively small amount of flour. Do you bake with g-f flour often? I would love to know how this turns out using g-f flour. I just bought a g-f flour mix. Hodgson Mills I think.

  10. Lindsay says

    This was FAB, Ali — turned out that I was short by one egg and only had an 8-inch pan, but it turned out spectacularly. I’ll pull it out a touch earlier next time (cooked for about 1 hr 10 mins), but otherwise, awesome! You really can’t find much fault in a one-pan, food processor cake. :) DJ has declared it his new favorite.

    • says

      Yay! And I know, right? So easy. And have you noticed that it’s gotten better by the day? This is Ben’s favorite, too. Now I’m totally craving it. And I would make it, if I didn’t have half a chocolate layer cake sitting on my counter…dangerous. OK, we really need to get up to VT! Weeks just keep passing :(

    • says

      Sara, I have not, but I think this is a recipe that would work well with gluten-free flour. Good luck with it. Do you have a favorite brand? A friend of mine here recently made delectable gluten-free cupcakes using King Arthur gluten-free flour.

  11. Reni Hendra says

    I just made this. It smells wonderful. It did rise more than I expected. I didn’t make it with a food processor. I used 9 inch springform and 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter. I did notice that my final batter is not as liquid as yours. Mine is like cake batter. It is moist and taste delicious though but I didn’t get the torte texture. Mine is more to cake texture. Do you think you can tell me what went wrong?? or is there something I need to do differently?? Thank you! I LOVE LOVE your website!

    • says

      Hi Reni, Thank you for your nice comment. So sorry to hear about your troubles with this. It sounds as though you did everything right! Now, you might notice a different in texture tomorrow — with any luck it will taste better and get moister and more flavorful as it sits. I am wondering if maybe you have a slightly heavier hand with the flour? Do you measure the flour by lightly scooping flour into your measuring cup and then leveling it off? That is one thought, and the other is just on the baking time. How long did you bake it for? My oven is definitely on the not-so-hot side, which is why mine always seems to take 1.25 hours to cook. Did you bake it on convection?

      • Heather says

        I have made this both with and without a food processor (in a stand mixer) and I found the batter was much more liquid when processed, rather than beaten. The processor batter also rose more and the cake was somewhat less dense. Both versions are absolutely delicious, and as Alexandra says, get better day by day. This has quickly become one of my favorite cakes!

  12. Adrienne says

    Oh my! I made this today and it looks and tastes amazing. I did not change anything in the recipe and cooked it for one hour. My only problem is that my springform pan leaked a bit so I put a pan on the next rack to catch any drips. Next time I will wrap the pan. I can’t wait to see how the flavors mature over the next couple of days. Thanks for a recipe that will now become a regular treat for family and friends!

    • says

      So happy to hear this Adrienne! It is amazing how it tastes better over the course of a few days. It gets moister and just somehow more delicious. Sorry about the leak in the springform pan. I should make a note in the recipe to wrap pan in foil — so many springform pans leak.

  13. Tori says

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I baked it once before and when I said I’d be baking it again my husband pronounced it his favorite thing I’ve ever baked. :) Last time I made it I used my food processor but had issues because it was a bit small for all the ingredients, this time I tried it in my KitchenAid and it made the batter very fluffy (also my eggs were still a bit chilled).

    I hope it turns out as good as the last time! It also filled the pan fairly full and I can’t recall if it rises much when baking/ if I used the full amount of batter last time. (Sometimes to avoid overflow I just trash a bit of the batter in recipes and I made this so long ago I can’t remember if I did that with this one or not…) Anyway, too late now it’s in the oven! Thank you again, your site is my favorite and I can always rely on a delicious outcome!

    • says

      Tori you are too too kind! Thank you so much for your nice words. I am so happy to hear this is a favorite of yours and your husband, because it is a big family favorite here, too. It shouldn’t rise too much, so I hope you didn’t have any issues there. Thanks for writing in!

  14. Jan Miller says

    The cake is delicious and moist. I made it yesterday, following directions to the letter. In my oven it took the 1 1/4 hr baking time.

    The one problem I had was that the side ring of the spring-form pan did not come off easily after the 20 min cooling, as suggested. It left large bits of cake on it so it was not the picture perfect cake as shown. I had buttered the pan well as directed.

    Am I the only one who has had this sticking problem? It keeps it from being a showpiece cake for company! Would buttering & flouring the pan have been better?

    • says

      Hi Jan! So glad you like the cake. And so sorry to hear about the sticking. Two thoughts: did you run a knife around the edge of the springform pan before releasing it? That might help eliminate the sticking. And, buttering and flouring might help but I have been turned off by flouring because I find that the flour burns. If you have success with buttering and flouring, I say go for it, but otherwise, I would try it again without flouring the pan and running a knife around the rim before releasing the pan. Hope that makes sense!

      • Jan Miller says

        Yes, I did run the knife around the edges before removing.

        A note of interest; the cake makes a wonderful strawberry short cake base with whipped cream and fresh berries. The almond flavor is very complementary.

  15. Maya says

    Made this today and it was absolutely yummy. Had the perfect texture and was the perfect show stopper cake. Great almond flavor. I didn’t change anything the first time I made this but the second time around added some ground cardamom, and boy did it take it up a notch!!!!! Thanks for a great recipe

  16. Viola says

    Hi, I know this is an old post but I wanted to mention that I’ve made this cake several times already and have never used a food processor, so don’t let that stop anyone! I usually just use a KitchenAid with the paddle attachment but, in a pinch, have used a hand mixer with the standard attachments. Takes longer, but comes out just fine. Additionally, I’ve used a springform pan or a 9×2 pan. I prefer the springform but the regular cake pan is fine in a pinch. Just have to watch it as it will rise above the edge of the pan about a half inch. This isn’t the cheapest cake I make – the almond paste is $5 a can!, but everyone who has eaten it loves it!

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