Those of you who know me are immediately thinking, “Julianna made this cake??” Well, you’re right! I did not make it! I can only lay claim to having photographed it and promptly devouring it! Today, I am celebrating my friend Mandy’s talent. She has the patience and artistic ability to create a masterpiece like this, and I was so lucky that she gifted one to me. Placing all of those tiny almond slices so precisely? She claims that it reduces her stress levels – go figure. Those of us who don’t bake are just cringing at the detail work it takes to make a cake like this, but Mandy found it meditative. These rich, mouthwatering cakes make the perfect finish to any festive meal. I suggest that you gather some cedar boughs like I did; place them on a cake plate and grace the boughs with these sweet little pinecones. Dust with some grated white chocolate and shaved chocolate bark, and you will have the most drool-worthy centrepiece ever. Here’s to you Mandy!
I will be bringing a lovely big plate of pinecone cakes over to my buddies at Fiesta Friday. I hope that everyone enjoys them! Our host, Angie of The Novice Gardener, and a plethora of welcoming co-hosts have been opening their doors to us for 45 weeks now and we are still banging down the doors to get in! Please be sure to join us, if you haven’t already!
This recipe originally comes from Martha Stewart Living magazine.
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
1 cup whole, blanched almonds (5 ounces)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
Chocolate frosting for Pinecone Cakes
6 cups sliced almonds (1 ½ pounds)
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)
Chocolate shavings, for garnish (optional)
3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 10-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.
Spread almonds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until light golden and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
Place the toasted almonds and ¾ cup sugar in a food processor, and pulse until the mixture is finely ground. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in flour; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan; remove from heat, and stir in rum and vanilla. Let cool slightly.
With an electric beater, beat the egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining ¾ cups sugar, beating to stiff glossy peaks.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg-white mixture in three batches, alternating with the butter mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan 20 minutes on a wire rack. Turn out cake onto a wire rack, and let cool, top-side up.
Using a 3-inch oval cookie cutter, cut eight ovals from cake. Discard scraps. Trim each to resemble a pinecone with a rounded base and a pointed tip. Leaving the bottom unfrosted, spread about 1/3 cup frosting on each pinecone; smooth and round to create a three-dimensional shape.
At the base of one cake, arrange sliced almonds in a spiral, overlapping slightly. Continue arranging almonds in closely set rows to cover the entire surface. Transfer finished cake to a baking sheet in the refrigerator to set while repeating process with the remaining cakes. Just before serving dust cakes with confectioner’s sugar or finely grated white chocolate and garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired.
In a medium bowl, sift sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk in butter, milk and vanilla until smooth. If not using immediately, refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
Note: These cakes freeze nicely. I kept mine in a cookie tin lined with waxed paper for several months before eating it.