For a cake with nuts as the main ingredient, this one is surprisingly light, due to the egg whites. The basil nicely complements the citrus-almond flavor.
• 1 1⁄4 cups almonds, blanched
• 4 eggs, separated
• 1 cup sugar, divided
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped (or substitute another herb)
• Grated rind and juice of 3 oranges (about 1 1⁄4 cups juice and 3 tablespoons rind)
• 1 tablespoon Anisette or other anise-flavored liqueur, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch springform pan with lightly buttered parchment paper.
2. Using a food processor, chop almonds until coarse. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with ½ cup of the sugar until thick. With the motor running, add yolk mixture through the opening in the lid, processing until mixture is thick and smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in orange rind. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 or 2 tablespoons orange juice, until it is the consistency of batter.
3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar over and beat until the peaks hold their shape. Fold half of the meringue into the almond mixture until just evenly mixed. Quickly fold the other half into the mixture, being careful not to overmix in order to keep the air in the whites.
4. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes, or until set in the center and a light golden color. Cool and transfer to a serving plate.
5. Make orange sauce: In a saucepan, combine orange juice and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Adjust heat and lightly boil for 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the liqueur, if using. Drizzle orange sauce over the top of the cake and let sit for 20 minutes or longer before serving. Or make a puddle of orange sauce on each plate and place a slice of cake on top.
6. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with an herb sprig.
Pat Crocker cooks bistro-style food with her favorite herbs every week. Her latest book, The Vegan Cook’s Bible (Robert Rose, 2009), is now available.
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