Almond Joy Cake. Yes, I Said Almond Joy Cake.

Almond Joy Cake. Yes, I Said Almond Joy Cake.

130326 almond joy cake2

One of life’s hardest decisions comes when I’m jonesing for sugar: Do I want cake or candy? This chewy, chocolaty, coconutty treat satisfies both cravings at once. Oh, and it’s also kosher for Passover. And parve. And gluten-free. You’re welcome.

I brought this fantabulous creation to the seder at my brother’s house last night. When my Almond Joy-loving niece got wind of it, she shrieked—you’d have thought I gave her a pony. It’s a riff on Deb Perelman’s Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte over at Smitten Kitchen; I happened to have almond flour on hand, and when I asked the hivemind on Facebook for parve whipped cream ideas (my bro’s family keeps kosher), coconut cream came up more than once.

Almond + chocolate + coconut = Almond Joy. Boom.

The cake tastes even more candy-like after a long rest in the fridge, so make this a day early if you can. (I learned this at breakfast this morning. As good as it was last night, just now it made my knees go weak.) I baked the macaroon layers one day and assembled in two quick sessions the next—it’s a Nap-Friendly Recipe for dessert.

130326 almond joy cake whole

Almond Joy Cake
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Serves 12 (since it’s so candy-like, smaller servings make sense. You are, of course, welcome to have seconds)

For the Macaroon Layers
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 large egg whites
12 ounces almond meal or almond flour (about 3 cups)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Filling
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1 cup chips
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso granules (optional)

For the Whipped Cream Filling and Frosting
1 can coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight (use 2 cans if you like a thick layer of frosting)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Decoration (use any or all)
Shredded unsweetened coconut
A semi- or bittersweet chocolate bar for shaving (optional)
Sliced almonds, toasted and crushed

Make the macaroons: 
Position racks in the top and lower thirds of your oven and preheat to 325°F.

  1. On four separate squares of parchment paper, outline four 8-inch circles (I traced around a cake pan). Flip the parchment so the writing is face-down, and if you’re uncertain of your paper’s non-stickiness very lightly coat each circle with oil or butter. (I used Reynolds brand and didn’t grease it. Deb mentions using If You Care brand, which like her I find to be sticky—it does need greasing.)
  2. Put the almond flour, 1 cup sugar, and salt in a food processor and whir until any clumps are broken down and mixture is blended. With a stand mixer using the whisk attachment or an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in a large, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Drizzle in the vanilla extract, then slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Gently fold in the almond flour mixture 1/3 at a time, working the batter as little as possible. Spread 1/4 of the batter evenly within each circle, filling completely—the layers will be thin.
  3. Bake the macaroon layers until golden and dry to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. (If you’ve got baking sheets large enough to accommodate two rounds side-by-side, you can bake them all at once. I don’t, so I baked in two batches.) Cool macaroons on their parchment on a cooling rack. Deb says you can speed this along by placing them for five minutes each in your freezer.
  4. Once fully cool, you can store these overnight in an air-tight container, still on their parchment. I slid all four into a gallon-sized zipper-lock bag.

Make the chocolate filling: 

  1. Heat half of chocolate, water, and coffee (if using) in a two-cup glass measure in the microwave, stirring in 30-second increments. When it’s smooth, stir in the remaining chocolate until melted. Spread the chocolate evenly over the macaroon rounds; it will barely coat each. Cool until chocolate is set, at room temperature if you’re doing this in stages, or in the fridge or freezer if you’re in a rush (and have the room).

Make the whipped cream:

  1. To whip faster, place your bowl and beaters in the freezer at least 15 minutes beforehand.
  2. Remove the can(s) of coconut cream from the fridge and flip over. Open the bottom, and pour off the liquid (save this to use in smoothies, etc). Use a sturdy spatula to transfer the solids to the mixing bowl.
  3. Beat at high speed until fluffy and lump-free, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla and beat again, until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks.

Assemble the cake: 

  1. Carefully peel the parchment off the bottom of each macaroon round. Place the first layer on a cake plate. (Deb’s note: If you like to follow proper cake-decorating protocol, you will insert some small strips of waxed paper under the edge to protect the cake plate while you decorate. If you don’t, hey, I too embrace cake imperfections.) Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over it—use more if you’ve opted for two cans of coconut cream. Repeat with second and third macaroon rounds, then top with the final round. Spread whipped cream over the top and sides of the entire cake.
  2. Sprinkle shredded coconut over the top and sides (tilt the cake plate to get the sides), then add a lighter sprinkle of crushed almonds on top. Finally, grate some chocolate over the top. Remove the waxed paper strips if you used them, and refrigerate for a few hours before serving—overnight’s even better.

MAKE BABY FOOD: Technically it’s safe for babies on finger food if your family is free of food allergies, but due to the added sugar I’d wait until baby is at least a year old.