My mother baked this chocolate-almond dessert for family gatherings and her bridge club meetings when I was growing up. Continuing the tradition, I take the cake to potlucks, neighborhood parties and Christmas celebrations.
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 16 squares)
- 1 cup finely chopped almonds
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, grated
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ALMOND CREAM:
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Grated semisweet chocolate, optional
- Combine the crumbs, almonds and chocolate; set aside.
- In a small bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and remaining sugar.
- In another bowl, beat egg yolks, oil and extract. Add to dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Stir in crumb mixture. Fold in egg white. Pour into two greased 9-in. round baking pans lined with greased waxed paper. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Carefully remove waxed paper; cool completely.
- In a bowl, beat cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Add extract; beat until stiff peaks form. Split cake layers in half horizontally; spread almond cream over each layer. Stack on a serving plate. (Do not frost sides of cake.)
- Garnish with grated semisweet chocolate if desired. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Yield: 12-16 servings.
Originally published as Nutcracker Sweet in Country Woman Christmas Annual 1999, p42
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