I Love You More Than...

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!"
Mom: "Wait—What!?"

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.

Almond Cakelets

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!


  1. So cute! LOL

    What pretty cakelets! I really love the presentation and idea. Very elegant.

    Happy Valentine's Day!



  2. Oh I knew this would be special:) I have those shells never thought of baking in them..I have made your almond Cakelets..I even remeMber having the photo printed:) I scoured EBAY to get your little molds years ago..
    Love the words between you and Sam..

    To be treasured for sure.
    I say I love you too much..I mean it though:)

    I tell my girls and my husband all teh time..now the wee ones..

    I have a little bracelet ordered as an added gift to my youngest who will be 34.. It says I love you to the moon and back..
    In French I tell my boys..Je t'aime gros gros gros comme le ciel:)

    You see why your conversation reminded me of yours..?

    Thank you for this lovely post.
    Happy Valentine's day~
    I love the heart at the back of the envelope..Solhowdyoudothat?

  3. PS we have the same little angel remember?

  4. She'll always be your baby, no matter how old she gets! You, Sol, will never be old, LOL! So funny, we did the same things, except we loved as high as the sky :)

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  5. What a creative use for the shells. Whenever I see the Jello molds in the antique stores, I think of you. I have made your almond cakelets in the molds as well as a brownie dessert. Sam (and of course you) will always remembers the sweet words. I've been jotting down some sweet words for our three sons for Valentine's day ;o) They'll probably roll their eyes when they read it!

  6. I was wishing you had posted photos of the actual little cakes made in those shells, when I scrolled back to the top photo and realized they ARE the baked goods! How clever you are to think of another use besides seafood for them!

  7. Sweet sweet memories.

    What a great idea. I'll have to find some natural shells.

    Thanks Sol.


  8. What a cute, cute story, Sol! Sam does have a great sense of humor, doesn't she. Hmmm, I wonder where she got that - LOL.

    I can tell how much you love each other by this post and that wonderful dessert you made for her!

    I need some beautiful seashells like those but I know I could never turn them into anything as beautiful as you have done.

  9. Absolutely lovely!!! :)

  10. Rosa, my kids have always had a way of making me pay attention :)

    Monique, of course we have the same angel. I told you we were twins separated at birth. Somehow, you got all the talent though.

    Btw, the heart on the envelope was so easy, you're going to gently slap your forehead when I tell you, it was done by lightly dabbing your thumb with paint (either acrylic paint, or paste food coloring. I used the latter).
    Dab the excess off, if any. And while holding your thumb slightly to the left, imprint half the heart. Turn your thumb slightly to the right, and imprint the opposite side.

    And there you have it, a heart, anybody can do, with the rubber stamps Mother Nature gave you.

    Carol, you're so right, my friend. She'll always be my baby, no matter how old she is. I just wish those moments would've lasted just a bit longer.

    Debbie, your boys may pretend they're too cool for Mom's loving thoughts, and roll their eyes (just like Thumper), but, they're words they'll always cherish, and will stay with them forever.

    Linda, you're sweet! I baked the shells for the big day tomorrow, and they're already gone. So, I'll be baking again, tonight.

    Ann, do find those shells. I can only imagine the wonderful treats you'll create with them.

    Susan, please hold, while I shake the modesty right out of you :) Get those shells and do your magic!

    Hi Sarah, thank you for the lovely comment. I truly appreciate it!

    Happy Valentine's Day to you all!

  11. simply beautiful and soooo romantic !!

  12. what an original idea and so pretty!

  13. What a stunning and unique idea! Well done, these are beautiful.

  14. Thank you very kindly guys!

  15. Haha I love it-I love you more than the septic system! :P The almond cakelets sound gorgeous!

  16. Love the story! Septic system, hee hee;) Too funny. The cakelets are soooo pretty! Where do you find the baking shells?

  17. Indeed, sweet memories. A touching/stunning post, dear Marysol. Your talents so amaze me ... I have natural shells but never though of baking in them ... so creative. Would so enjoy watching your artistic genius in the kitchen plus photographing ... I'm in awe!

  18. Marysol, this are so pretty and elegant...love the photos as well :-)

  19. What a wonderful story! Nothing you baked could top that, though I must admit your almond cakelets came very close. This is my first visit to your blog and after reading this post I decided to browse through your earlier entries. I really love the food and recipes you feature here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  20. These are the most creative cakes I have seen so far in celebration of Valentine's Day! As precious as the pearls...

  21. Supermom, you'll find baking shells where bakery supplies are sold. To tell you the truth, I found mine at an estate sale, so keep an eye out for those too.

    Joey, my friend, you have such a romantic view of my abilities. But, in reality, when I waltz into my kitchen, everyone else runs away, as I turn it upside down with the ease and fixed determination of a mad scientist (with Martha Stewart tendencies), more than genius. But I love that you think of me in such a sweet way!

    Thank you Julianna, Mary and Tigerfish; you're all very kind!

  22. You have a beautiful blog!


  23. Anonymous17/2/11

    OMG, I have over a dozen of those shells from my Mother. She always made Ragu Fin in them but I never thought of using them for baking.

    Cherish your daughter for she is truly special. But you know that already.


  24. Thank you Carolyn!

    Peppi, I have no idea what Ragu Fin is, but your visit will keep me smiling while I Google it.

  25. How pretty!! I keep telling myself I should not buy a Madeleine pan because I won't use it often enough but I'm sure I have shells just like those.

  26. How wonderful! This cake and the presentation: art. The story is touching, so great to share these tender moments with one's daughter. How lucky for us to get inspired by you.

  27. Anonymous23/11/13

    Love your blog and your style of writing, and of course your beautiful pictures! Been browsing for the past 3 hours....and now stopping to leave a comment! Radhika

  28. Anonymous23/11/13

    Lovely blog! I've been browsing for the last 3 hours!