Another month has gone by and Jason from DailyCandor provided the Daring Kitchen’s new challenge – this time it’s Hrapocusa! Hrapocusa (Hra-po-choo-sa) was created in the town of Dol which is on the Dalmation Island of Bra (hint: off the southern coast of Croatia). Along with the recipe, I got a little geography lesson, too. Who knew Croatia has a coast?
This was challenging in that it used a couple of techniques I’m not used to. The first was creating almond meal from roasted almonds and the second was creating the sweet walnut mixture that was the topping of the cake. You may notice the cake uses no flour or fat. Here’s a photo of the coarse almond meal used as the base of the cake:
I finally got to use my springform pan! I’ve had two springform pans for years just knowing that special cheesecake recipe was around the corner. The pan is perfect for this cake and it helped hold the sweet walnut topping on top until it was cooled and released.
You really have to watch while preparing the candied walnuts. It’s easy for them to go from gooey goodness to rock-hard grainy lumps. Next time I’ll take it off the stovetop a little earlier.
I loved the orangey taste in the textured almond cake and the candied walnuts brought a sweet crunchiness that completed the lovely cake. Despite having to sweep up walnuts off the floor (I’m not quite up to par with the food processor yet…), it was a fun challenge and I look forward to the next one!
Hrapocusa (Almond Cake with Candied Walnuts)
**Read the entire recipe thoroughly before beginning!)
1 3/4 C. whole almonds (roasted or raw)
3 1/2 C. walnuts (halves and pieces
3 C. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. maraschino cherry juice
6 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
Preheat the oven to 480 degrees.
Pulse the almonds in a food processor to yield a meal (30-40 pulses). Set aside.
Add the zest and juice from the 1/2 orange, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, the cherry juice and 1 C. of the sugar to a bowl and mix gently until well combined. Separate the 6 eggs, dividing the egg whites – 4 to a small bowl and 2 to another small bowl. Add the yolks into the sugar mixture and blend until it yields a uniform batter – just combined, not thick and creamy.
Pour the 2 egg whites into a new, clean mixing bowl. Beat until they are somewhat stiff peaks. Add half of those beaten egg whites and half of the almond meal to the batter. Fold in and stir gently to blend. Add the remaining almond meal and egg whites, folding gently until just combined.
Place a circle of parchment paper at the bottom of the springform pan and pour in the cake batter. Gently shake the pan to get rid of any bubbles. Place the pan in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 390 degrees. Bake for 5 minutes at 390 degrees, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then again lower the temperature to 320 degrees. After five minutes of baking at 320, check the cake with a toothpick. Remove the cake when the toothpick comes out clean (mine was done after about 10 minutes at 320 degrees). If the center of the cake is poofed up, gently press with the back of a wooden spoon to flatten the surface.
To make the candied walnuts, place the remaining 4 egg whites, 2 cups of sugar and the walnuts into a large pot. Turn up the burner to medium-high heat and stir aggressively and constantly for approximately 10 minutes, making sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t scorch. Stop when the liquid takes on a beige/caramel color (do not wait too long or it will become sugary hard clumps).
Remove from heat and add the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon and the remaining 1/2 tsp. of vanilla – stir to combine. Quickly spoon the walnuts over the cake and smooth evenly.
Place the cake back in the oven (still at 320 degrees) and bake for about 10 minutes, until the top takes on a light golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a rack for about 90 minutes. Gently remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper and present!
Cake can be stored at room temperature for 5-6 days. If you want to freeze it, cool the cake completely, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. Let thaw before slicing.
Tips and Tricks
This calls for a 8″ springform, but I used 10″ successfully.
When making the candied walnuts, be sure and stir constantly. After every two minutes or so, I slid the pan off the burner while still stirring so that it definitely wouldn’t burn. Important: remove from the heat while the mixture is still creamy or you’ll have rock-hard walnuts.
To make the circle of parchment paper for the pan, set the pan on top of a piece of parchment and trace the pan. Then cut out with scissors and slide into the pan.
Read the entire recipe before beginning. Then read it again.