Toasted Almond Cupcakes

toasted-almond-cupcakesIn the spirit of Pittsburgh’s famous burnt almond torte, I give you these toasted almond cupcakes. I have to admit: I like toasted, not burnt, almonds better, but you can certainly cook yours for longer if you prefer the burnt kind.

The next time I make these cupcakes, I’ll fill them with some almond pastry cream, but they’re absolutely delicious no matter what. While they may look fancy, they’re actually very easy to prepare; just put a simple white almond cupcake together with some almond buttercream, then add your toasted almonds on top. I recommend making your cupcakes first, then toasting your almonds, then making your frosting so the cupcakes and almonds are both cool enough to use.

Makes 16 cupcakes.

White Almond Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, shortening, and salt until fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, and almond; beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and beating until just combined.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into each cupcake well, filling about half full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately place cupcakes on wire racks to cool before frosting.

Toasted Almonds

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine almonds, sugar, and water; stir to combine.

Place mixture in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 5-7 minutes until almonds turn a light golden brown. Almonds will start out looking wet and will appear dry when they are almost done.

Remove from heat and pour onto a platter to cool completely before using.

Fluffy Almond Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine.

Add heavy cream and beat for about 2 minutes until fluffy.

To frost and decorate the cupcakes: fit a 14-inch pastry bag with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe generous swirls of frosting onto each cupcake. Sprinkle toasted almonds onto each cupcake, gently pressing them into the frosting so they stick.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

 

 

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Burnt Almond Torte

burnt almond tortePittsburgh bake shop Prantl’s Bakery offers a popular cake called burnt almond torte. This is my brother’s favorite cake, and I wondered at his recent birthday dinner if I could make one. Naturally, I gave it a shot using a combination of recipes I’ve made before and a few I found online. The cake you see here is destined for tonight’s Christmas dessert, and I look forward to updating this post with a photo of a slice of it on my plate.

Technically speaking, a torte isn’t the same as a cake. While cakes use flour, tortes usually do not; instead, they rely on ground nuts and other ingredients for their structure. Whether Prantl’s burnt almond torte is an actual torte, I cannot say – mine is not, as it uses a white almond cake batter with regular flour. Because I wanted a smaller cake, I used two 8 x 8 square pans but a single-layer cake recipe, so I’d have smaller layers overall. You could double the recipe below for a larger cake if you like.

White Almond Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two 8 x 8-inch square cake pans with baking spray; line with a parchment square and spray the parchment.

In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, shortening, and salt until fluffy.

Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and beating until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans; bake for 14-15 minutes, until tops are just golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool cake completely before filling and frosting.

Fluffy Almond Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute, then add salt and beat another minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine.

Add heavy cream and beat for about 2 minutes until fluffy.

Pastry Cream Filling

Burnt Almonds

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine almonds, sugar, and water; stir to combine.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place half of the almond mixture in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 4-5 minutes until almonds turn a light golden brown. Almonds will start out looking wet and will appear dry when they are almost done.

Remove to the parchment paper to cool and repeat with the second half of the almonds. Allow to cool completely before using.

To assemble the cake:

Place one layer on your cake plate and top with pastry cream, spreading within about 1/2 inch of the edges. Top with second layer of cake.

Frost cake completely. Cover the tops and sides with almonds, pressing gently to allow them to stick.

Store in the refrigerator; allow to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.