Thursday, April 21, 2011

Toasted Almond Cake with Mascarpone Cream & Amarena Cherries

2 cups almond flour
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can or tube (7 to 8 ounces) almond paste, cut into small chunks
24 T (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk , at room temperature
1 T Amaretto liqueur
finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon, about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mascarpone
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 T kirsch or grappa
1 cup amarena cherries in syrup, well drained and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup cherry jam
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites , at room temperature
24 T (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparing the cake:
Adjust 2 oven racks to divide oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 (9-inch x 2-inch) round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper; grease paper and dust pans with flour, tapping out excess. Spread almond flour on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, stirring once, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. Combine sugar and almond paste in a food processor and blend until almond paste is finely ground, with the texture of fine sand.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine almond paste mixture and butter. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended. With mixer on low speed, beat in milk, Amaretto, lemon zest, and vanilla until well blended. Beat in flour mixture, scraping bowl. Beat on medium speed until well blended, about 30 seconds. Divide batter among prepared pans and spread evenly. Stagger pans on 2 racks in oven so pans are not directly above one another. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pans and turn cakes out onto wire racks. Remove parchment paper and flip again; cool completely.

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Preparing the filling:
In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, combine mascarpone, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and 1 tablespoon kirsch or grappa. With mixer on low speed at first and increasing to medium, beat just until firm peaks form; do not over beat. Fold in cherries. Refrigerate 30 minutes. In a bowl, stir together cherry jam and remaining 1 tablespoon kirsch or grappa.

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Preparing the buttercream icing:
Combine sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil without stirring until syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a digital thermometer, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer on medium speed, gradually pour in hot syrup in a thin stream; avoid pouring syrup on whisk. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form and mixture is cool, about 8 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition. (If at any time buttercream appears curdled, beat on high until smooth, then reduce speed to medium and continue beating in butter.) Once all butter is added, beat on high speed until buttercream is smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla.

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Assembling the cake:
Spread 1 side of 2 of the cake layers with jam and let stand 10 minutes, so cakes absorb some of jam. Place 1 cake layer, jam-side up on cake stand or plate. Spread with half of mascarpone filling. Top with second cake layer, jam-side up. Spread with remaining filling. Top with third cake layer, top-side up. Frost cake with about 1 cup buttercream to crumb coat cake; refrigerate 1 hour. Frost cake with remaining buttercream. Serve immediately or refrigerate; if refrigerated, let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Serves 12 to 16


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