When it comes to desserts, I tend to swerve off the beaten path a little and allow my creative juices to take over. I will also be the first to admit that I have a sweet tooth and this delicious cake absolutely just hits the spot. It is a rich dense dessert using almond meal instead of flour, which provides a wonderful texture and flavor.
Almonds are both very healthy & nutritious; they contain large amounts of Vitamin B-12 and also Vitamin E. They are also thought to contain cholesterol lowering properties & promote overall cardiovascular health. Almonds may also help in lowering one’s risk for diabetes. Almonds are a large part of the heart smart Mediterranean diet & should be consumed daily in its raw form (in moderation, of course) for maximum benefits.
ALMOND HONEY CAKE
2 cups almond meal (also called almond flour)
1˝ cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups honey (any flavor orange blossom, lavender, clover…)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
˝ cup butter, softened
˝ cup thick yogurt
˝ cup sour cream
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground cardamom powder
pinch of saffron
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
˝ tbsp freshly grated orange or lemon zest
few drops of vanilla extract
few drops of almond extract
lightly toasted almond pieces for garnish
To make the honey syrup:
In a small saucepan on medium heat, combine 1 cup of orange juice with 1 cup of the honey. Stir well to combine and bring to a good boil. Reduce the heat to low and add a very small pinch of cardamom powder, a very small pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a small pinch of saffron. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes until slightly thickened and set aside until needed.
To make the almond cake:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (almond meal, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt). Now add the sugar and stir well to combine. Set aside until needed.
In another large mixing bowl, combine the 4 eggs and beat until frothy using a hand held electric beater. Add the almond extract, vanilla extract, citrus zest, softened butter, yogurt, the remaining cup of honey and sour cream to the egg mixture and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Add a small pinch of cardamom powder, a small pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a small pinch of saffron. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix well until thoroughly combined.
Carefully pour into the buttered baking dish and carefully tap the baking dish on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Remove from the oven and using a fork; gently poke holes into the cake. Carefully pour the warm honey syrup over the cake. Garnish with the lightly toasted almond pieces and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh fruit.