Flourless Almond Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Passover always inspires me to try new flourless cake recipes. This year I wanted to make something classic, simple, and light for seder. This recipe comes from Claudia Roden, the acclaimed author of multiple Jewish cookbooks (among other accomplishments).

I served this almond cake with a mix of berries that had been macerated in a little Chambord (raspberry liqueur) and honey. I also served it with whipped coconut cream. The mild creamy coconut goes really well with the subtle almond flavor in the cake... but don't get me wrong, this cake is good all on its own.

The cake is crispy and delicate on the outside, and kind of gooey and crumbly on the inside. It makes a really wonderful crackly sound when you cut into it. As it bakes, the top puffs up and as it cools it sinks back down into the cake. The recipes is very similar to how one makes a flourless chocolate cake.

If you do not like the combination of almond and citrus I would omit the zest from this recipe. I think you could also get away with adding other flavorings to the batter (maybe coconut extract, actual coconut, or even cocoa powder/chocolate).

The recipe for this cake comes from Spain, and it is perfect for any meal that requires a dessert without flour, dairy, or too much work.


Flourless Almond Cake
Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Claudia Roden's
Serves 10-14

1/2 lb. blanched almonds (or 1 3/4 cups), finely ground
6 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon almond extract (or less depending on your preference)
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Finely grind the blanched almonds in a food processor. Don't grind them too fine or they will start to form a paste.

Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper (11-inch works too). Grease the pan really well (I used non-dairy Earth Balance... you could also use margarine, butter, or even coconut oil to grease the pan).

With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until a smooth pale yellow cream is formed.
Add the zests and almond extract and beat some the mixture until everything is well-incorporated.

Mix in the ground almonds.

Using a stand-mixer, electric mixer, or whisk, and using a very clean and dry bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (like you would for classic meringue).

Carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk and almond mixture.

Pour the batter into the greased pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is firm (no jiggle), and golden brown. Let the cake fully cool in the pan.

Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

The cake actually tastes even better the next day and can be made 1-2 days in advance.

Enjoy!



Flourless Chocolate Brownie Cookies (gluten free)


I stumbled across this recipe for Chocolate Brownie Cookies in the January 2014 issue of Bon Appetit. The picture of the cookie looked great, and the recipe seemed as simple as any cookie recipe could possibly be.

Well done Bon Appetit test kitchen!  This is a stellar cookie, and an excellent gluten free dessert.

Look, I'm a big fan of gluten.  I don't have an intolerance to it, and I have nothing against it from a nutritional perspective.  But, I know many folks that do have difficulties with gluten; and it's nice to have more recipes I can serve those friends.

Plus, the omission of flour is texturally significant in these cookies. They are crispy and light on the outside, and gooey in the center.  They remind me of a cross between a meringue and a french macaron.  What could be bad about that?

I only made a few changes to the recipe. Next time, I might add cinnamon or cayenne to the batter. But really, it's pretty perfect as is.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies 
Makes 2 dozen cookies

3 cups gluten-free powdered sugar (you can also use regular powdered sugar if you aren't gf)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the better the powder, the better the cookie)
1 tsp. kosher salt (essential)
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
4 oz. (1/2 cup) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead)
3 tbsp. cacao nibs (I did not have these on hand. Instead, I added 3 extra tablespoons of chocolate chips)

Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°F.

Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in egg whites and egg; fold in chocolate and cacao nibs.  You don't have to be perfect about any of these steps. This batter is very forgiving.  Just don't overmix the batter once you add the eggs; err on the side of clumps.  


Your batter should look glossy and almost like melted chocolate

Spoon batter by the tablespoonful onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2" apart.  I used an actually measuring tablespoon.  The batter is very very sticky, so I scooped up spoonfuls, and needed to use my hand to release the batter from the spoon.  


Bake, rotating sheets once, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and set just around the edges, 14-16 minutes. Mine took 14, I always prefer cookies just under, and they continue to cook even out of the oven.

Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool on pan (they'll firm up). Okay, here's the ONLY tricky part of this recipe.  My cookies needed to cool in the pan for a minute or so before they would unstick from the bottom. The first hot cookie I tried to move with a spatula broke apart.  After a minute, it was easier.  It also helped to lift up the parchment off of the hot cookie tray, transfer the parchment to the counter, and lift the cookies off the parchment once they were not in the pan. This is still a delicate process, and you'll want a good spatula for the operation.

Do ahead; Cookies can be baked 3 days ahead.  Store airtight at room temperature.  


And this is what you get!

Yum!