I am wild for almondy baked goods. Not so much the kind with real actual
almonds, which I can take or leave, but the kind that has marzipan or almond
paste, with its intoxicating scent of almonds wafting out. I will
choose the almond croissant at the café, the almond macaroon at the Italian
bakery, the chocolate-covered marzipan at the candy shop. I love, love, love that flavor,
as do my kids, and I love to bake with almond paste. This recipe
, for example,
which is wonderful (and gf to boot).
|You will swear these have almond paste in them! Which is crazy, because you're the one who made them.|
But often I don’t have almond paste. (Because I used it
already and it is expensive and I am too cheap to buy it again.) So I have been forever looking for
a recipe that communicates all the pleasure of almond paste, without the actual
almond paste, and this is it. I only found it because a friend’s son baked it,
and she posted about it on Facebook, and I could just tell from looking at it
that it was going to be exactly perfect: crunchy-edged and with a soft,
sticky middle, exactly like an almond macaroon.
It turned out to be a Marion Cunningham recipe, called
simply “Almond Butter Cake,” and it has more almond extract in it than seems
wholesome, and I wouldn’t do it any other way. I’m calling it blondies and
baking it in a square pan because I think it lends itself better to bars—and to
the idea that it’s texturally way more like brownies than li
ke cake. Sticky, chewy, and like brownies, leavened only with eggs.
|Wake us when it's not cake.|
The original recipe calls for a topping made of sugar and
sliced almonds, but I’m a weird purist about my almond-flavored things, and
find it more distracting than enhancing. Feel free to add it back in: after the
batter is in the pan, sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of sugar and then ¾ cup sliced
almonds. If I were eating this all by myself, I might sprinkle the batter with
pignolis, à la my favorite Italian almond macaroons. But that is
not a popular idea around here.
p.s. I have written some things! This
, over at Full Grown
People (with my favorite tags ever: "anger, Catherine Newman, men, misogyny, rage, sexism, woman's anger, work"), and this
over at Motherwell. Also, my (and Ben and Birdy's) parenting-teens column
continues over at
SheKnows. Please send me questions if you think to!
p.p.s. This book
, The Bright Hour
? It will wreck you, and you'll be so glad you read it. It changed me.
|Marzipan Blondies, baked as a cake, makes a perfectly acceptable Yay, It's Wednesday Cake! cake.|
This is the kind of cake where the batter is ready to bake
long before your oven is preheated. So, so easy.
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter (I use salted)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350. Butter and flour or cooking-spray a
baking pan that is either an 8-inch square or a 9-inch circle. (I used geometry
*and* algebra to figure out the equivalent! [pats self on back])
Melt the butter in a small pot and then transfer it to a
large bowl. Or, because you’re lazy and don’t want to wash the pot, melt it
right in the large bowl either in the microwave (not a metal bowl) or over a
pot of simmering water (a metal bowl).
Stir in the sugar until smooth (I use a sturdy rubber
spatula for the whole recipe), then add the eggs and stir until the batter is
blended—kinda creamy, kinda gritty. Add the extracts and the flour and stir
“briskly” (that’s Marion Cunningham right there) until smooth.
Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and bake until just
set, and toothpick emerges with sticky crumbs on it, 30-35 minutes.
Cool in the pan at least 30 minutes, then cut into bars.