Flourless almond torte

June 11, 2008

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Makes one 9-inch torte

Almond flour/meal is made from blanched, finely ground almonds. Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods makes it and it's available at Whole Foods Markets and Trader Joe's. Use the cake as the base for a mixture of strawberries in mascarpone (see recipe) or simply berries and whipped cream.

Butter (for the pan)

5 eggs, separated

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups (1/2 pound) almond flour/meal

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

Pinch of salt

Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan or grease it with shortening. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit the bottom and press the paper into the pan. Butter or grease the paper.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the almond meal, vanilla, and Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur. Mix just to moisten the dry ingredients. The batter will be quite thick.

3. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, combine the egg whites and salt. Use the whisk attachment to beat the whites at medium speed until they form soft peaks. The peaks should not be stiff or dry.

4. With a large metal spoon, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten it. Use the spoon to fold the remaining whites gently into the batter until no streaks of white show. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

5. Bake the cake for 1 hour - without opening the oven door - or until the cake is golden brown on top. Turn off the oven, leave the door closed, and let the cake sit for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Use a long, thin knife to cut around the edge of the cake to release it from the sides of the pan. Unlatch the spring and lift the sides off. Use a wide metal spatula to lift the cake from the bottom of the pan. Set it on a cake stand. Sprinkle the cake with confectioners' sugar and cut into wedges. Serve with macerated strawberries. Linda Steinman