There are certain tastes, textures, aromas which combine to transport you to a place where everyone's eyes are closed and words are stilled, unneeded. This dessert brings all of that together in a perfect blend.
And it's easy. I mean, REALLY easy. Like five minutes and in the pan easy.
For my money, it doesn't get any better than that.
Chez Panisse Almond Torte (you know it's fancy when it's a torte and not a cake)
For those of you who don't live in California, Chez Panisse is the restaurant in Berkeley made famous by Alice Waters who defined California cuisine. If you can get any of her cookbooks -- do.
1¼ cups sugar
⅞ cup (7 oz./200g) soft almond paste
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
6 eggs, room temperature
1 cup (4.5 oz/130g) flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
powdered sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Beat the sugar with the almond paste
until the almond paste is in fine pieces. A stand mixer is best, but a food processor will beat everything into submission as well. Beat in the butter and the vanilla and cream the
mixture until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a
time, beating well after each
addition so the eggs are thoroughly mixed in.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, and beat into wet ingredients just until thoroughly blended. (If you are using a stand mixer, just add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend. If using a food processor abandon its take-no-prisoners-power-grind now and transfer the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and blend just until it all comes together.)
3. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and turn the batter into it,
smoothing the top evenly. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and
the center feels springy when you push it gently. You should also look for the a uniform dark gold color. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out SLIGHTLY moist, not wet. I have a convection oven and it took roughly 55 minutes at 300 degrees.
4. Let cool for about 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the springform pan. If you want to dust the torte with powdered sugar, wait until it is completely cool or the powdered sugar will "melt" and lose its beautiful white coating.
EAT! ENJOY! YUM!!!