Dark chocolate ganache between layers of almond meringue, covered with crispy sweet almonds that are literally the icing on the cake.
I got the idea of adding candied almonds from the famous Prantl’s bakery in Pittsburgh, home of the amazing burnt almond cake, a must for any visitor in the city.
The cake is not only kosher for Passover, it is also parve and gluten-free. It’s perfect for any Passover meal, but you’ll want to make it year round.
Yields one 9” cake
For the almond meringue:
6 egg whites at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 oz. almond meal
1 tablespoon potato starch
For the chocolate ganache:
1/2 cup almond milk
4 tablespoons coconut oil
8 oz. dairy free (parve) dark chocolate
1 cup powdered sugar
For the crispy almonds:
1 egg white at room temperature
1 lb. sliced almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
For the whipped coconut cream:
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk or coconut cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Start with the almond meringue. Heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius). Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a pencil to draw three 8” circles on the paper, and flip so side with the drawing is facing your work surface. Have on hand a pastry bag or a ziplock bag.
2. Beat egg whites in a mixer fitted with balloon whisk. When eggs start to foam, add sugar in a steady low stream and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. Mix almond meal with potato starch, then fold gently with a spatula into whipped eggs.
3. Transfer about a cup of the whipped eggs into pastry bag and “draw” three 8” circles, following the pencil circles on the parchment paper. Then fill in the circles with the rest of the meringue, using an icing spatula to even and fill the rounds. Bake for 1½ to 2 hours, keeping the oven door slightly open with a folded towel, until meringue is firm. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.
4. To make the chocolate ganache, heat almond milk and coconut oil in a small saucepan until bubbles just begin to form. Have the chocolate waiting in a bowl. Pour the heated milk over the chocolate, let sit for a minute, and then whisk until chocolate melts. Add powdered sugar and mix again. Let ganache cool to room temperature.
5. Put ganache in the fridge for about 20 minutes, and test for thickness. You may need to give it extra time (although too much time can make it too stiff; if this happens, leave it at room temperature to soften again). When ganache is thick and cool, whip it with a mixer until light and fluffy. Put in a piping bag.
6. To make the crispy almonds, turn oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius). Layer 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk egg white until fluffy. Add almonds and mix well to coat them all. Add sugar and salt and mix. Spread almonds over baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven, mix almonds, flipping them in the pans for even toasting and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on racks. You will use only about half of the almonds, but these crispy almonds are the tastiest snack, and will last for a long time in a sealed container.
7. For the whipped coconut milk: If you’re using coconut milk, put it in the fridge overnight. Cool mixer bowl and balloon beater in the fridge for an hour. Carefully remove coconut milk can from fridge, open it and use just the solid cream on the top. Keep coconut water at the bottom for another use. Whip with sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
8. If you’re using coconut cream to whip (instead of coconut milk), you do not need to keep it in the fridge. Cool mixer bowl and balloon beater in the fridge for an hour. Carefully open coconut cream and use just the solid cream on the top. Keep coconut water at the bottom for another use. Whip with sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
9. To assemble the cake (finally!) put one meringue circle on a serving plate and pipe half the chocolate ganache on top. Top with another meringue circle and the other half of ganache. Finish with the third meringue. If the ganache is too soft, put the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes before continuing to assemble.
10. Cover the cake with a thin layer of whipped coconut cream and use your hands to gently attach candied almonds to the sides and top of the cake. Keep covered in the fridge until serving.
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