Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kat McCleland’s Unbelievably Delicious Almond Cake With Marscapone Whipped Cream

Almond Cake with Slivered Almonds and Marscapone Whipped Cream
Almond Cakes in their "Hurri-Cakes" incarnation 
         The first time Andrew made this magnificently moist, indescribably rich almond-to-the-core cake, it was one of two birthday cakes he provided for a friend’s very Big Birthday.  The second cake was a Chocolate Devil’s Food cake with Chocolate filling. The ultimate complement he was paid was by our friend Peter, an inveterate chocoholic if there ever was one.  Peter said, upon tasting its almond companion, “I never thought almond would trump chocolate but this one does”.   It is that good.  And there’s a story behind getting the recipe that’s a lot of fun too.
The View from the Beacon is almost
as good as the food
 We’re blessed with a lot of very good restaurants here on the East End of Long Island and, to our way of thinking, The Beacon at 8 West Water Street in Sag Harbor (Tel: 631-725-7088) is near the top of our list.  Owned by David Lowenberg, who is behind some of the best places to eat on all of the East End, it’s one of the few restaurants out here where the view is almost as good as the food: The Beacon overlooks a marina jammed with pleasure boats.  It’s ideal for sunset cocktails.  And it’s a very good idea to get there early because they don’t take reservations and the place is packed the moment it opens at 6:00 pm.  Beacon’s menu is full of terrific appetizers and main courses all the product of its super talented chef, Sam McCleland.  But it’s also a very good idea to save room for dessert because that’s when you can treat yourself to the pastry chef’s incredible treats. And the pastry chef in question is Sam’s wife, Kat McCleland.  A private chef for a very famous Broadway producer, the mother of two small children, we’re not quite sure where the time comes from for Kat to bake our way into heaven at The Beacon.   But we’re awfully glad she does.  And if you can’t get to The Beacon, at least you can make this wonderful cake. 
         We’ve known Kat for a number of years. Her family is truly old Hampton’s stock going back to the 16th century.  That’s about as far back as you can get in a place that was founded in 1640.  Since we’d enjoyed her macadamia-crusted key lime pie and salivated over her maple crème brulee with fresh berries, the depth of flavor in her almond cake was in no way a surprise.  And Andrew desperately wanted the recipe.  How did he get it? We were in our supermarket parking lot when we spied Kat.   Andrew practically threw himself in front of her car. Kat graciously accepted our high praise.  Then in a great burst of the kind of generosity we food-obsessed adore,  she offered to email him the recipe.  What’s amazing here is that she had to write the whole thing up and, given all that she has to do, we will be forever grateful.  As will you, if you make this cake.

         There’s more to the story here.  It’s the secondary recipe that Andrew developed as we awaited the arrival of Hurricane Irene this past weekend.  Andrew decided to make the almond cake, “Hurri-cakes” for some of our battened-down friends.  He used our brioche tins and made individual almond cakes.  The results were equally spectacular.  But I was glad to see that there was enough batter left over that he and I could have a nice 8 inch cake. We sat in the dark and  endured 55 hours without power, the first 24 of which were truly awful with terrible winds howling outside and trees being battered all around our house. But at least we had our own almond cake to console us.  I was tempted to title this post “Hurri-cakes” but quite honestly, everything over the last few days has been hurricane-hampered and filled with menu items like “Chicken Tarragon Cooked in the Dark” and “Hurricane Salad” so called because we had all ingredients on hand and no heat was needed to make it.  We will share the latter with you in another post, but for today, it’s almond cake all the way.  Or Hurricakes, if we’re unlucky enough to see another one. And by the way, the brioche tins are optional.  You could use any muffin tins you have. After all, you're making these in a hurricane for goodness sakes. 

Recipe for Kat McCleland’s Almond Cake with gratitude to Kat:
For the Cake:
1 ½ cups sugar
8 oz. unsalted butter at room temperature
14 oz. of almond paste, broken into pieces
6 large eggs
2 tbsp. Kirsch or other liquor
1 tsp. almond extract
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Powdered Sugar for dusting the tops of the cakes.

For the Marscapone Whipped Cream
1 cup Whipping Cream
6 tbsp. Marscapone cheese
2 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla

A cupful of Slivered Almonds, toasted, for garnish. (Optional).

To make the cake:
Spray 2 – 8 inch aluminum cake tins, sprayed very thoroughly with Baker’s Joy .

Cream butter and sugar in mixer until light and fluffy.
Add almost paste in small pieces and beat well.  Make sure it is well blended and the mixture is uniform.  Beat in eggs 2 at a time, blend well after each addition. Mix in Kirsch and almost extract.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; add to batter. Beat 3 minutes at medium to high speed to develop cake structure. Spoon batter into prepared pans and smooth top. 

Bake at 350 degrees until top is dark golden brown and slightly firm to the touch.  Cakes will have pulled away from the edge of the pans, about 35-40 minutes.  Cool in pan on rack. Once cooled, serve with a dollop of Marscapone Whipped Cream.

To make the Marscapone Whipped Cream:
With an electric mixer, beat the cream, marscapone, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl until peaks form.  (Marscapone Cream can be made 3 hours in advance. Cover and Refrigerate) Makes about 3 cups.

To make the “Hurri-Cakes”:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously spray Baker’s Joy into brioche tins.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.  You’ll still have enough batter for a second 8 inch almond cake cooked as above. 


  1. Very clever to create the "Hurri-cakes" , and yes they look fabulous, however, you just cant beat the presentation factor of the entire cake, dusted with powdered sugar, almonds and marscapone whipped cream.. Truly a ending to impress! Thank you Monte AND Andrew!

  2. Ana, you are the best! And this cake is too! Do try it.

  3. Everyone should make this cake!!!!! Very simple and simply delicious. Good for breakfast or as a dessert.

  4. You are so right Lauren! Likely one of my favorites on the whole blog!