In the culinary world, there are some flavors that simply belong together, and for me, cherry and almond are two of those. In this Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake, the fragrant sweetness of almond coupled with bright, tart cherry flavors results in a richly decadent treat that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea. And the vibrant red color of the cherry filling makes this a dessert that clamors to be made just in time for Valentine’s Day!
This recipe calls for almond paste, which can be found in the baking section of most supermarkets. A mixture of ground up almonds and sugar, almond paste yields an almond-rich flavor like no other. Be sure to use only almond paste, and not its close cousin marzipan, in this recipe. Marzipan has a much higher sugar content, and will result in a cake that is overly sweet. If you’d rather make your own, I posted a recipe for almond paste a couple of years ago. And for another recipe using almond paste, check out my Blueberry-Almond Muffins, which I would argue are the best blueberry muffins you’ll ever make!
Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake
adapted from Cook’s Country Magazine
For the cherry filling:
2 (15-ounce) cans tart (also called sour) cherries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
For the streusel and cake:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) can or 1 (7-ounce) tube almond paste, crumbled into small pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
For the almond glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons water
For the filling, bring cherries (with their liquid), sugar and cornstarch to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mash cherries with potato masher and cook until thick and jam-like, about 25 minutes. Refrigerate until cool.
For the streusel, whisk 1-1/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or fork, blend in melted butter until mixture forms pea-size pieces. Stir in 1/2 cup almond paste; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine remaining flour, baking powder, and remaining salt in a medium bowl. Whisk sour cream, eggs, and extracts together in a small bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat remaining almond paste, remaining sugar, and softened butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sour cream mixture and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, beating just until combined, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
Scrape batter into greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Dollop cooled cherry mixture over batter and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle streusel over cherry mixture and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake completely.
For the glaze, combine sugar, extract and water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.
Each layer in this cake lends its own distinct flavor, and it makes for such a pretty presentation!
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