By Patricia Jinich@PatiJinich Facebook/PatisMexicanTable www.patismexicantable.com Cookbook
As a fan of marzipan this cake feels like a fluffy, smooth, tasty piece of marzipan that has turned into a cake to become a bigger, lighter and longer lasting version of itself. It can be served as a dessert, with some whipped cream on top. If you are lucky to have some leftover, it makes for a decadent breakfast with a side of berries and some hot coffee or tea.
The recipe comes from the Mexican convent of San Jerónimo, where Mexico’s most famous nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was settled. It dates to the late 1600′s. Spanish nuns who came to help establish the different convents, had an indomitable sweet tooth, which paired with Mexico’s exotic ingredients, made for some of the country’s dearest and sweetest desserts. Centuries later, these desserts are staples in Mexico’s kitchens.
There are many kinds of nut cakes or tortes in Mexican cooking, with pinenuts, pecans, and hazelnuts amongst some. They can be sweetened with sugar or in some cases with sweetened condensed milk. I find that when trying and testing desserts inherited from convents or nuns, I need to pump down the sugar a bit. So if you want the original flavor, add an extra 1/3 cup sugar to the recipe below…
For this cake, almonds are used, and a couple other ingredients. It is a snap to make in the food processor or blender.
Just grind the already slivered almonds and sugar, less than a minute. Once ground, add the butter at room temperature, the eggs, vanilla and if you want a hint of alcohol, like the nuns from San Jerónimo, add some Porto wine.
Adapted from the Convent of San Jerónimo
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups slivered almonds
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Porto wine, optional or more to taste
1/4 cup apricot marmalade
1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Whipped cream, optional
Butter a round 9 to 10 inch spring-form pan, and cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the almonds and sugar into a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Crack the eggs on top of the mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract and Porto wine, if you will use it. Drop in the butter chunks, and process until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Pour the batter into the mold. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The top will be nicely tanned, and the cake will feel springy to the touch and a toothpick should come out clean if inserted in the cake.
Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold the cake, invert onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto another platter to have the top of the cake right side up.
In a small saucepan, mix the apricot glaze with the lime juice. Set over medium heat and simmer for a couple minute.
With a brush, spread the apricot glaze on the outer circumference, about 1 to 2 inches, on the top of the cake. Sprinkle the glazed area with the toasted sliced almonds. You may serve the cake with whipped cream on the side, or on the top of the cake
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz 362 birthday celebration: 12 of november 2013
Sister (Spanish: Sor) Juana Inés de la Cruz, O.S.O. (English: Joan Agnes of the Cross) (12 November 1651 – 17 April 1695), was a self-taught scholar and poet of the Baroque school, and Hieronymite nun of New Spain. Although she lived in a colonial era when Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire, she is considered today both a Mexican writer and a contributor to the Spanish Golden Age, and she stands at the beginning of the history of Mexican literature in the Spanish language.
She was born Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana in San Miguel Nepantla (now called Nepantla de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in her honor) near Mexico City. She was the illegitimate child of a Spanish Captain, Pedro Manuel de Asbaje, and a Criollo (A Spanish born in America) woman, Isabel Ramírez. Her father, according to all accounts, was absent from her life. She was baptized 2 December 1651 and described on the baptismal rolls as “a daughter of the Church”. She was raised in Amecameca (State of Puebla), where her maternal grandfather owned a hacienda.