Bedtime came late one night, as my daughter Sam, and I, tried to top our love for one another.
Mom: "I love you more than all the South Sea pearls in the world."
Sam: "I love you more than ice cream."
Mom: "I love you more than all the stars in the sky."
Sam: "I love you more than...the septic system!"
Needless to say, this nightly ritual came to a screeching halt.
Moments later, the anxiety emanating from Sam's emerald green eyes turned to welcome relief, when, between suppressed giggles, she restored harmony to our universe, by saying,
"Mom! I meant to say, I love you more than (tee hee) the Solar System!"
Breathing a sigh of relief, I realized that, while I will never be perfect, being grouped into the human waste category, had never been one of my three wishes when I signed up for this job.
But that night, between gales of laughter, my precious pearl, Sam, left an indelible mark on my heart. She's all grown-up now. Yet, those carefree, wonderful moments we shared, time will never take away.
In any event, since most of her favorite desserts involve almond paste and chocolate, I dedicate this post to her. I hope you'll share this with the pearl of your life.
These cakes were baked in natural baking shells. If you do not have these, try Madeleine pans. But try to find the natural shells, as you'll find many uses for them. I've baked everything in them, from brownies, shortbreads and cakes, to cornbread.
The following recipe is the same I used for the seashell cookies some years ago—weelll, with a few minor changes, which resulted in an even more pronounced almond flavor, and deliciously moist cakes.
To avoid confusion, I will post the recipe once again, to reflect those changes.
1 cup (8 ounces) almond paste
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup AP flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325º F. Grease and flour a 9-inch Springform pan or 16 baking shells*.
Combine the almond paste and sugar in a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add the butter and vanilla; pulse until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and pulse until just combined. Do not over mix.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the almond mixture and pulse to blend.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 1 to 1½ hours in the Springform.
If making seashells, bake about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.
Seashells were completely cooled. Then, lightly brushed with a basic confectioner's glaze.
*NOTE: If you're left with extra batter, bake a few cupcakes, and freeze them for another time.
I made a sugar rose, and set it by the pearls. Pearls were basic chocolate truffles, covered in white chocolate. Don't hurt me. I just couldn't conceive using black (dark chocolate) pearls for this presentation.
So never fear. I have not converted to the light, fluffy side.
Happy Valentine's Day, my friends. And may Cupid's arrow set your heart aquiver!