During Passover, when most foods made from wheat flour are forbidden, almond desserts are popular, especially with Sephardic Jews. A version of this recipe dates back to at least 1855 and is probably much older. When baked, the batter forms a dense (but not heavy) torte, like a soufflé--only with an earthy side. We serve it here with a simple raspberry sauce, but it's equally delicious plain or with sliced strawberries. Prep and Cook Time: about 1 hour. Notes: Using whole blanched almonds saves time, allowing you to skip the boiling and peeling in step 1, but these nuts can be difficult to find. Look for them in gourmet and Middle Eastern markets.
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1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the almonds and cook 2 minutes. Drain, rinse almonds with cold water, and slip off and discard skins. Pat dry with a kitchen towel and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375°. With vegetable-oil spray, lightly coat inside of a 10-in. pan with removable rim or any other 2-qt. baking dish with sides at least 2 in. high. Sprinkle inside of dish with 1 tbsp. sugar, tilting and turning the dish to coat evenly. Discard any excess. Set dish aside.
3. In a blender or food processor, whirl almonds until finely ground (be careful not to grind them into almond butter). Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup sugar for several minutes until pale yellow and thick. Gently stir in ground almonds and almond extract. Set aside.
4. In a large clean bowl, beat together egg whites and salt until firm peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whites into yolk-almond mixture to combine thoroughly, then gently fold in remaining whites. Pour batter into prepared dish and bake until set and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, slice, and serve with raspberry coulis.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
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