Holiday time seems naturally to evoke an urge to bake. The chill of the snow and ice outdoors draws us to the warmth of the hearth, the heart of the home: the kitchen.
Nostalgic daydreams mingle with the aroma of sweet spices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg—and the nuttiness of toasted pecans and almonds as cakes, cookies and confections near completion in the ovens warmth.
My neighbor, drawn in by the sweet aroma of my almond-brickle drop cookies, inhaled the kitchens scent, and proclaimed, “I’m too lazy to make cookies. Do you know how to make a cake from these things?”
Undaunted, I proceeded to combine some toasted almond slices and several tablespoons of toffee candy chips into one of my favorite sour cream coffee cake recipes. The delicious result surprised us with its great flavor and ease in making!
Madame Donna’s Toasted Almond and Toffee Candy Cake
(Serves approximately 8)
Coffee Cake Batter:
(An adaptation of an old recipe from The Redbook Cookbook)
¾ cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract*
1 ½ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour (King Arthur preferred)
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
¾ cup sour cream
(Feel free to substitute yogurt or buttermilk, if preferred)
*If you do not like almond flavoring, simply use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead.
Filling and Topping Sprinkle Mixture:
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
(Toasting brings out a stronger flavor)
¼ cup butter toffee candy pieces (Heath brand is very good.)
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Prepare a 9-inch pan with grease (butter) and flour OR PAM and set aside.
Toast the almonds in a small fry pan or toaster oven while the oven preheats to save some time and have your ingredients all in place (known as mise en place) before beginning.
Combine the softened butter and sugar in a mixer until creamed and light yellow in color.
Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extracts. Beat the mixture, until well blended, at medium speed. Scrape the bowl often to make sure it all blends well.
Slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again on medium speed.
Add the sour cream and continue to blend until the ingredients are mixed well.
Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with half of the sliced almonds and half of the toffee candy bits.
Now add the remaining half of the batter covering the filling with care. Go slowly and gently to avoid pulling up the filling.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining almonds and candy bits to cover.
Bake for 25-35 minutes. Test with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done!
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack to allow air circulation.
Invert the cake, using care to cover the top with a paper plate or towel to keep the topping from falling off. Then turn the cake upright onto a serving platter. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.
With all these candy bits in the cake, I don’t recommend any icing for this. If you have an extreme sweet tooth consider a simple powdered sugar/milk glaze drizzled just as you would over cinnamon buns.