December 04, 2010

Cherry Almond Cake (with recipe!)

I work at a non-profit bakery.  We teach job skills to 'at risk youth.'  They come in 15-20 hours a week for three months, work on getting their GED and then we send them off with a tearful goodbye.  It's incredibly rewarding and sad (the chicks always leave the roost).  I love mentoring these kids and hearing their INSANE stories.  Holy crap.  (Hi God?  If I haven't said it 12,000 times already today, thank you for the fact that I was raised by my great parents in a safe community where there are better life choices than these three:  gangbanger, drug dealer and crackhead). 

Anyway, I love these kids.  I really do. And for whatever reason, they talk to me.  I think they like talking because that means I'm not singing and dancing at them like a giant nerd to Rhianna, Katy Perry, Usher... all the tragically overplayed Top 40 hits they make me listen to.  Here's an interaction with a youth we'll call 'David.'

Me:  *singing* "Cause David, you're a firrrrrrework!  Come on make your cheddar-chive-scones burrrrrrst!!!  Look at these moves!!!" *step touch, step touch*
David:  "Mandi, you don't go out to the clubs like that, do you?"
Me:  "Who needs clubs when I've got YOU!?"

It's a lot of fun for them, I'm sure of it!!??

Anyway, one of my youth said he had never had a homemade pie.  He's Mexican so all of the desserts he grew up with are things like 'flan,' etc.  But never a pie.  Travesty.

Me:  "What kind of pie do you want to try?"
Youth: "I really like cherries."
Me: "Tell you what, you bring me cherries-- I'll make you a pie."
Youth:  "Okay."

(A very exciting exchange).

Surprisingly, though, he actually brought them in!  He had gone to Trader Joe's and bought some dark morello cherries in a jar. 

I made him a pie and my youth's small heart grew three sizes that day.  *tears*

BUT!  The reason why I'm tapping away on this keyboard is because there was an entire two cups of cherry juice leftover.  I found this wildly fascinating.  Surely, SOMETHING could be done with this... I figured I'd see if I could make a cherry almond cake.  TOTALLY decided to wing a recipe.

But first, you'll never believe what happened!!!??  Some cherry juice accidentally fell into some vodka and soda water.  THAT was a MAJOR WIN.  *hiccup* After a bit of 'Cocktail Time with Sandra Lee', I finished the batter.  It looked like this. 

Huh. Cement.
(Remind me to ask Falcor if the Rockbiter's hungry...)

But the baked result?  I liked it!
Veronica's feedback:  "Ooooh, I like this!  It's super moist.  I don't think I'd be able to tell it was cherry, though, if you didn't tell me."

Note to self: We need more cherries like Kermit in 'Muppets Take Manhattan' needs more dogs & bears & chickens & stuff!  So here's what I did cause it ended up super delicious!!! 

2 3/4 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c. oil
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp almond extract
1 c. cherry juice
1-2 T red food coloring

1/2- 3/4 c. cherry juice
1/2-3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. water

2 c. whipping cream
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
Sliced Almonds

1 cup cherries
1 T. cornstarch
1/4-1/2 (to taste) c. sugar

Put all of the cake ingredients in a mixer for five minutes.  Don't forget the food coloring so it looks a little bit less 'trip to the dentist.' Fill two 9 or 10 inch. cake pans.  Bake at 350 30-40 minutes (?)  Until a toothpick comes out clean, yo!  Set aside & let cool completely.

Whisk together the ingredients for the Cherry Sugar Water in a small saucepan and boil the mixture down by about a third.  You want to cook out the water and dissolve the sugar. Once the cake is cool, you can brush the sugar water over the cake.  It keeps it super moist & adds even more cherry flavor! (See what I did there, V? IN YOUR FACE! WHO NEEDS MORE CHERRY NOW, BIOTCH!??)

Then, in a mixer, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Add the almond extract & powdered sugar.  Frost your first layer of cake.  Press cherries into the whipped cream frosting. 

Add the next cake layer on top.  Brush again with the sugar water.  Cover the cake in the whipped cream frosting and put in the fridge to solidify a bit.

In another saucepan, stew the topping ingredients together.  Break up the cherries as they get softer and you'll start to notice it thicken 'real nice like.'  Let cool completely. 

Finally, press almonds into the sides of the cake and scoop the cherry topping onto the cake. 


It's reeeeally nice, you guys.  Super moist & delicious!  And this is one of those cakes that gets even better when it sits because all of the liquid and the flavors meld together like heaven.

Did I mention I had about 124 orders I could have been prepping but instead I made this cake?  Whoops.  A very DELICIOUS, worth-the-late-night-last-minute-prepping whoops!  Hope you enjoy!!!

'Dirty, Rotten, Filthy, Stinkin'!!! (Who can get that without googling is what I want to know!),  :)


Juliette said...

ok, I love that you're working at a non-profit bakery that works with at-risk youth! I want to work there!! Tell us more about it!

MandiCrocker said...

I love it, too, Juliette! It's an awesome organization but I don't want to write too much & get fired! :) Not sure what I can & can't write because we are dealing with 'at risk youth.' Word? But thanks for the excitement! I get excited about it, too... :) :) :)

Juliette said...

How does the program work? Do youth get referred and then attend and (hopefully) walk away with a training certificate? or is it more of a place where they can work with people who are trained in baking/biz/youth work? So curious!

MandiCrocker said...

You know... I'm not 100% sure how it works. I think the owner works with case workers to refer the kids to the program, etc., then the kids come in for an 'interview.' We teach them baking skills, how to be on time, etc. And then I think the owner helps them as best she can with job placement. At the end of three months, they 'graduate.' :)

Juliette said...

very cool; glad you get to be a part of something you enjoy!

Darci Monet said...


MandiCrocker said...