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Oct 17, 2009 08:22 PM

Cake with Marzipan in it?

Hi again...since everyone is always so helpful with my either ridiculous or ridiculously simple questions, I feel the need to ask again.... :-)

Looking for absolutely delicious cake recipes with marzipan...a birthday cake kind of thing...must have that flavor that pignoli cookies have (which I assume is the marzipan but I am not a cook by any stretch of the imagination, so I have no idea).


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  1. I have a recipe for a terrific little almond cake, made with butter and almond paste, that has that marzipan flavor to me. It's sort of plain looking, not a layer cake type of thing, but rich and delicious (and easy to make). You just need a small slice of this cake that you might simply dust with powdered sugar. It is from a now-closed restaurant in Berkeley, CA, called Narsai's, and the recipe prescribes serving it with a raspberry coulis, which is a great foil for the rich almond flavor of the cake. If you are interested, I could paraphrase it for you.

    18 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      I would love this recipe when you have a chance to share it. Thank you, Caitlin! :)

      1. re: kattyeyes

        Yes, it would be great if you could share it - thanks!

        1. re: kattyeyes

          I'll be able to get my hands on the cookbook and post it in a few hours.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            I don't know if you'll see this Caitlin since this is an old thread, but I'm curious about that book. What are some of the other restaurants that have recipes featured?

            1. re: bythebay

              bythebay, Compliments of the Chef has a publication date of 1985, so more of the restaurants included are now closed than still open, and a few that are still open have changed hands. Some restaurants are represented by a single recipe, while others have several. Here are those featured:

              A La Carte, Berkeley (closed)
              Augusta's, Berkeley (closed)
              Bay Wolf, Oakland
              Bette's Oceanview Diner, Berkeley
              Bread Garden, Berkeley (closed)
              Britt-Marie's, Albany
              Broadway Terrace Cafe, Oakland
              Cheese Board, Berkeley
              Chez Panisse, Berkeley
              Chin Szchawn, Albany (closed)
              Christopher's Cafe, Berkeley (closed)
              Cocolat, Berkeley (closed)
              Curds and Whey, Berkeley (closed)
              Fatapple's, Berkeley
              Fourth Street Grill, Berkeley (closed)
              Gertie's Chesapeake Bay Cafe, Berkeley (closed)
              Giovanni's, Berkeley
              Hunan Palace, Albany (closed)
              Inn Kensington, Kensington
              Java, Berkeley (closed)
              Metropole, Berkeley (closed)
              Nadine, Berkeley (closed)
              Narsai's, Kensington (closed)
              New Orleans Bar and Grill, Oakland (closed)
              Norman's, Berkeley (closed)
              Omnivore, Berkeley (closed)
              Pasta Shop, Oakland
              Picante Taqueria, Berkeley
              Poulet, Berkeley
              Ramona's, Berkeley (closed)
              Riera's, Berkeley (closed)
              Ristorante/Caffe Venezia, Berkeley (now just Venezia)
              Santa Fe Bar and Grill, Berkeley (closed)
              Siam Cuisine, Berkeley
              Spenger's, Berkeley
              Walker's Pie Shop, Berkeley (closed)
              Yenching, Berkeley (closed)
              Zachary's, Oakland

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Thank you so much for that info. Sounds like an interesting book, maybe worth getting used.

          2. re: Caitlin McGrath

            This is paraphrased from the book Compliments of the Chef, a collection of recipes from restaurants in Berkeley and Oakland, CA. The headnote says, "A simple, rich cake made spectacular by the addition of raspberry purée."

            Almond Cake

            3 eggs, lightly beaten
            8 ounces almond paste
            3/4 cup sugar
            1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
            1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
            powdered sugar

            Preheat oven to 350F. Cream 1 egg, the almond paste, and the sugar, then beat in the remaining eggs. Beat in the butter, then stir in the flour until just incorporated. Pour into a buttered, floured 8-inch round cake pan and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool, then invert onto a plate and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with raspberry purée.

            Raspberry Purée

            1 pint fresh raspberries, or a 12-ounce package of frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
            2 tablespoons sugar

            Purée the berries with the sugar (if using fresh) or without (if using frozen), then press gently through a sieve with the back of a spoon to remove the seeds.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Thanks kindly, Caitlin! I've e-mailed the recipe to myself and am marking this topic as a favorite for safekeeping. Sounds very simple...and the raspberry purée is an elegant addition. Do you have a favorite almond paste?

              1. re: kattyeyes

                i can't speak for Caitlin, but of the brands that are widely available, i prefer Love 'N Bake or American Almond (they're made by the same company). i'm not a big fan of Odense or Solo.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  HA HA, I love the name "Love 'N Bake"...thanks to all for weighing in.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Perhaps they have changed their formulation in the past couple of years, but I gave up on American Almond because of the unpleasant flavor from the artificial bitter almond oil they included. It didn't necessarily come through in recipes, but I don't particularly like to use ingredients I don't enjoy the taste of on their own. At the moment, I forgo all these brands and buy the high-quality one a local market sells in its refrigerated case, or get some from a baker friend who buys it in ten-pound slabs.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      you know, it's been a while since i used it but i don't recall disliking the flavor on its own, and i know i liked the results it produced in the finished product. the Odense & Solo are both too sugary for me. but the good news is that we have several to choose from, so to each her own!

                      for the record, i, too, prefer the higher quality ones, but not everyone has access to them (nor are they necessarily willing to shell out the extra $$), so i figured it was best to stick with widely available products for the purpose of this discussion. when i lived in LA i used to buy the Mandelin brand at Surfas.

                      random question while we're at it...have you tried the Baker's Almond Paste from Blue Diamond?

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I haven't tried Blue Diamond. I was impressed to find the bulk almond paste at a local market, but because they repackage it, I don't know the brand/source. Same with the stuff my friend has given me. I think the brands we are discussing are of good quality, as well, though, and I have used one or the other for many years.

                  2. re: kattyeyes

                    I have always been happy with Solo. Odense is a good product, too, but costs more and comes in a 7-ounce package, which I find to be an awkward size (for example, this recipe calls for 8 ounces). I do not recommend American Almond, which to me has a slightly artificial overtone.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      In these basic cake recipes, it is unnecessary to comply with the 8 oz amount specified - just use the 7-oz. Chances are these were originally written when everything came in 8 oz packages which have since been downsized. If you are REALLY a stickler for sticking to a recipe, add a couple of drops of almond extract, a tsp of sugar, and a tblsp of ground almonds to make up the difference.

                      Solo canned filling is a lot wetter than tubed Odense almond paste or marzipan so if I would not substitute if I could help it.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I was not referring to Solo canned almond filling, but to Solo almond paste, the texture of which is not wet or particularly different from other brands I've used. Odense is alright, but I don't prefer it, and it is overpriced IMO.

                  3. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Looks delicious Caitlin - can't wait to make it! Thank you!

                2. a couple of issues:
                  - first, pignolis are pine nuts, so though pignoli cookies contain almond paste, they also get their distinctive flavor from the pine nuts.
                  - second, pignoli cookies are typically made with almond paste, which is actually different than marzipan (it contains a higher proportion of almonds, so it's less sweet than marzipan, and also not as finely ground/smooth).

                  having said all that, there *are* recipes out there for marzipan cake.

                  smitten kitchen always has terrific stuff, so maybe start with hers - i think the pistachio would be a lovely complement to the flavor of the marzipan, and of course both go well with chocolate!


                  if that doesn't appeal, here's a recipe that sounds pretty promising (i know you don't care about the gluten-free aspect, but the absence of flour probably heightens/accentuates the marzipan):


                  6 Replies
                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Thanks - ok yes so maybe I am looking for almond paste instead...I am not familiar with either marzipan or almond paste...and I am actually not a fan...this is just a cake for someone that REALLY loves the stuff!
                    I hadn't thought about how the pignoli add so much flavor...

                    Smitten kitchen recipe sounds well as the other recipe...I will add them both to the list of potentials. Thanks!

                    1. re: lovessushi

                      Since you mentioned the person you're making the cake for REALLY loves almond-y flavor (that describes me, too!), you must know about this. krisrishere shared her grandmother's recipe for almond squares. I am an almond/pignoli nut cookie fiend and these are not only out of this world, and on a par with anything you'll find in an Italian bakery, but dangerously easy to make:

                      Want to take it to an even higher level of deliciousness? Melt the best chocolate you have on hand (I use Callebaut) and drizzle over the top in a Jackson Pollack-like mad pattern. ;) My mom and I have both made them several times and absolutely LOVE these bars!

                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        i've read all the raves on here about those almond squares. i considered making a GF version, but figured my waistline would hate me...and the melted chocolate drizzle would make them even more dangerous in my kitchen :)

                        i say lovessushi should go for it!

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          These sound incredible - .I am making these tomorrow as a pre-birthday treat! Thanks!!

                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      thank you for pointing out this distinction. i HATE marzipan, but enjoy pignoli cookies, as well as almonds.

                    3. has a load of recipes (they make both marzipan and almond paste.)

                      Solo almond filling has a rich pound cake (bundt pan) recipe on the underside of the label. It's plain looking but very good, and stays tasting just-made through several weeks of refrigeration.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: greygarious

                        Thank you - I will check out the website

                        1. re: greygarious

                          yes, i make a bundt style pound cake with almond paste and fresh and dried cranberries that is delicious and stays fresh for over a week out of the fridge. i get asked for the recipe all the time. can't find the recipe at the moment, but if you google "cranberry-almond pound cake" it might turn up. i honestly think my mom got it from one of those craisin ads in a food magazine--you know, the ads that contain recipes.
                          if you find the recipe, i will say that i always use way more almond paste than the recipe says--i just dump in the whole tube or can of whatever i have.

                        2. Caitlin's cake sounds very interesting -- I'm going to remember to try it.

                          Another cake to look at is this almond praline cake from epicurious. It has a very almondy flavor. And a marscapone frosting and ganache filling. I recommend this cake without any reservations. It is a showstopper, truly. You can make everything but the marscapone frosting a day ahead and then just assemble it:


                          16 Replies
                          1. re: karykat

                            This is definitely along the lines of what I was looking for for a birthday cake...looks intimidating though! Did you find any of the issues that reviewers mentioned in their comments? (i.e. trouble mixing the almond paste in)?
                            I've never made a birthday cake before!

                            1. re: lovessushi

                              I looked at the recipe again and at the comments.

                              It sounds like the person who had problems mixing the almond paste in had a hand mixer but not a stand mixer. Do you have a stand mixer? I think that would be important. If you don't, you may well have the same problem with any of the other recipes that use marzipan or almond paste.

                              I think that you can take the pressure off by making the components the day before except for the marscapone frosting. That way if something goes wrong you have time to redo or adapt.

                              Use the parchment paper liner for the cake layers. That always makes it easier to get the layers out of the pan. The method for the cake itself is pretty straightforward. I think you can do it!

                              Ganache can set up too much or not enough. But there are fixes either way.

                              You can see my comments to the recipe under "kary."

                              This cake definitely has the almondy taste you want. It has much more almond paste than most cakes.

                              1. re: karykat

                                Hmm...ok well I don't have a stand mixer or a hand mixer...just a food processor. So I guess this is a problem...

                                It sounds you think I can use the processor or should I just scrap the idea and find something else without the almond paste that I could mix by hand (maybe with ground almonds or something?)

                                1. re: lovessushi

                                  Why not mix the butter, sugar, almond paste in the food processor, add the eggs, turn this out into a bowl, and finish by hand?

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I can do that? (I'm clueless in the kitchen...) ok then, thanks...wish me luck for next Wed. night...I will report's bday is Thursday so even if I muck it up there's still time to buy one ;-)

                                    1. re: lovessushi

                                      I see no reson why not, you're just using it to beat the butter etc together - I use Dorie Greenspan's 15-min miracle amaretti chocolate torte recipe a lot, and it's entirely made in the food processor.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Seriously, "15-min miracle amaretti chocolate torte" made entirely in the food processor? Would you by any chance be willing to paraphrase?

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          My husband made this Jacques Pepin almond cake for me in a food processor. I was doubtful but it turned out really well, though slightly overbaked.


                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            It's from her fantastic book Baking from My Home to Yours and the recipe is Googleable as cited (sorry, book not handy). You melt some chocolate, allow it to cool a bit, put coolish room temp butter, sugar, and eggs in the FP, let it whirl for a couple of minutes, add chocolate, amaretti, and almonds in any form - I've been using whole natural ones - whirl to grind up and mix together, put in prepared pan (she calls for 8" which she says makes a thin cake, I used 6"springform because I wanted a thicker, cuter one) - bake at 350 for 30 mins or so, allow to cool and glaze if desired (I don't usually, I prefer uniced/unglazed cakes). I also made 1 1/2 times the recipe and baked it in an 8" solid (i.e. not springform) pan with 3"sides and it came out perfectly. It is a dynamite recipe.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              nigella lawson uses a processor a lot too. works fine, although i admit having trepidations the 1st few times, lol.

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                PS to Caitlin McGrath: your almond paste cake sounds divine, will make it soon. Bet it would be excellent with hazelnut or pistachio pastes too?

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  I'm sure it would be wonderful made with any nut paste, though I've only made it with almond. It's simple, rich, and delicious. And if lovessushi's still reading along, this one is an excellent candidate for the food processor.

                                                    1. re: lovessushi

                                                      I would mix everything up in the food processof in the order given in the recipe, through incorporating the butter, using the pulse button. Then empty the batter into a bowl and mix in the flour by hand until it's just incorporated (the processor mixes too hard and fast for the flour step).

                                                      As this post is far down the thread from the recipe, here's a link to it so it doesn't become disassociiated:

                                              2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                it's all over the web:

                                                Bon Appétit also published it with a modification so it makes 4 single tortes instead of one larger 8-inch if that's preferable:

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Excellent, thanks to you both!

                                                  ETA, looking at the Bon Appétit version, it seems familiar enough that I believe I might have clipped it when it was originally published, as I subscribed then. Definitely time to revisit those files!

                                2. In Spain they make a cake called Torta de Santiago, find a recipe for it, It uses Almond Flour and egg whites. Trader Joes has ground almonds powder that would work great.

                                  Make it a layer cake and spread the Marzipan in the middle, it will be great. You can even add some dried Cheries.

                                  Bittman in the NYT recently had a recipe for a 20 minute almond torte that was very good.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                    The thing about almond meal - TJ's, anyway (it's the only one I've used) - is that on its own it doesn't have much almondy flavor. You really need almond extract and/or amaretto for a strong almond taste, unless you are using prepared almond fillings/paste/marzipan. I looked at that almond squares recipe kattyseyes recommended upthread, and thought that it wouldn't have nearly enough flavor for my tastes.

                                    When I make Congo Bars, I sub almond extract for half the called-for vanilla, whether or not I'm including almond meal instead of some of the flour, and use almonds for the chopped nuts. Almond/coconut/white chocolate.....orgasyummy!

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      I've had a princess cake for a birthday special.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        If two Italian girls can't vouch for the taste and authenticity of that recipe, I sure don't know what to tell you...except that krisrishere's almond squares, with 2 teaspoons of almond extract, for sure do NOT lack almond flavor in the least.

                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                          Mea culpa - my eyes shot ahead of my comprehension and I thought it was 2 tsp of slivered almonds; I completely failed to grasp the extract part.