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Pati Jinich Flourless Almond and Porto Cake

This cake is a treat. What’s more, being flourless, it is perfect for both gluten free eaters and the coming Passover week.

As a fan of marzipan this cake feels like a fluffy, smooth, tasty piece of marzipan that has turned into a cake to become a bigger, lighter and longer lasting version of itself. It can be served as a dessert, with some whipped cream on top. If you are lucky to have some leftover, it makes for a decadent breakfast with a side of berries and some hot coffee or tea.

The recipe comes from the Mexican convent of San Jerónimo, where Mexico’s most famous nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was settled. It dates to the late 1600’s. Spanish nuns who came to help establish the different convents, had an indomitable sweet tooth, which paired with Mexico’s exotic ingredients, made for some of the country’s dearest and sweetest desserts. Centuries later, these desserts are staples in Mexico’s kitchens.

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There are many kinds of nut cakes or tortes in Mexican cooking, with pinenuts, pecans, and hazelnuts amongst some. They can be sweetened with sugar or in some cases with sweetened condensed milk. I find that when trying and testing desserts inherited from convents or nuns, I need to pump down the sugar a bit. So if you want the original flavor, add an extra 1/3 cup sugar to the recipe below…

For this cake, almonds are used, and a couple other ingredients. It is a snap to make in the food processor or blender.

Just grind the already slivered almonds and sugar, less than a minute. Once ground, add the butter at room temperature, the eggs, vanilla and if you want a hint of alcohol, like the nuns from San Jerónimo, add some Porto wine.

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Pulse again, until well combined. Less than a minute too…

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Pour the batter over a buttered pan with its bottom lined with parchment paper.

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The batter will look rather thin, barely filling the pan, but that is ok… Put it in the oven…

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Take it out about 30 minutes later. Once it has a nicely tanned top and a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool a bit and turn it onto a plate. Remove the parchment paper and turn onto another plate, just to have it right side up.

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Mix some apricot marmalade with lime juice (the nuns from San Jerónimo only used apricot marmalade, but I wanted to pump up the acidity… up to you) in a sauce pan and let it heat for a couple minutes. Until it dissolves.

© 2010 Patricia Jinich

Brush the glaze, wherever you want to decorate with some lightly toasted sliced almonds… Here is a photo of the decoration process, halfway through…

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And away you go!

No doubt, one of the tastiest parts of my job, as I research through the history of Mexico’s cuisine, is to test centuries’ old recipes in my kitchen. In this case, the flavors of the convent of the Jerónimas traveled directly to Washington DC, helping me taste a bit of their history. You can get a taste of it in your own kitchen too…

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake
Pastel de Almendras con Porto

Serves: 12 to 15

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Pastel de Almendras con Porto" />


3/4 cup sugar

2 cups slivered almonds

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon Porto wine, optional or more to taste

1/4 cup apricot marmalade

1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed

1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Whipped cream, optional

To Prepare

Butter a round 9 to 10 inch spring-form pan, and cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the almonds and sugar into a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Crack the eggs on top of the mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract and Porto wine, if you will use it. Drop in the butter chunks, and process until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the mold. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The top will be nicely tanned, and the cake will feel springy to the touch and a toothpick should come out clean if inserted in the cake.

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold the cake, invert onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto another platter to have the top of the cake right side up.

In a small saucepan, mix the apricot glaze with the lime juice. Set over medium heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.

With a brush, spread the apricot glaze on the outer circumference, about 1 to 2 inches, on the top of the cake. Sprinkle the glazed area with the toasted sliced almonds. You may serve the cake with whipped cream on the side, or on the top of the cake.



Pati, this looks delicious! La próxima vez que hagas experimentos, ya sabes a quién llamar para que los pruebe…

Monica, OK! I will be sure to let you know…

P.D. I am forwarding this to a friend who is gluten-intolerant. She is going to love it. ¡Gracias!

Cant wait to try this cake this passover. Looks easy and delicious.

Delicious. Thank you for the gluten free recipe, and for the fascinating information about the origin of the cake.

Dear Mary, My pleasure!

Hi Pati, I saw your show today on PBS, and you featured this recipe. I am excited to prepare this for my mom for Mother’s Day, as she cannot have gluten. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe, and I can’t wait to try it!

Pati, I saw your show for the first time today and I am so exhilarated by your beautiful recipes. I can’t wait to make the almond cake!!

Patti, I saw this recipe recently on my PBS station and the next day, I gave it a try. It was DELICIOUS! My wife ate 3 slices the first night and it was all gone within a day or so. No, she didn’t eat it all…I certainly got my fair share!

Hi Jeff,
I’m glad you two were able to share! Haha, I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake!

Pati this cake recipe is perfect! My mom is gluten and dairy intolerant; do you think it would turn out as good if I substitute the butter with oil?

Hey Jennifer, I have always made this cake with butter, but if I were to try a non-dairy substitute, I would replace the butter with vegetable shortening. Of course you can also try oil instead, please let me know how it turns out!

I made the Flourless Almond and Porto Cake and it was delicious. Thanks for the recipe! I am going to make it when it is my turn to take a snack to Bible Study.

I tried your Almond cake recipe. In one word, DELICIOSO!!!!! Loved the fact that it’s even easy for us, the no-good-at-baking population!
Now there’s one thing that concerns me: The recipe mentions that it serves 12-15. How do I explain to myself the fact that there is less than 1/2 left, even though I made it today??
These recipes are truly wonderful, I will keep trying more!
Mil gracias,

Hola Michelle,
So glad you like it!! Truth is: I can eat one entire cake by myself…

Hi Pati,
I will like to bake this cake for this coming weekend. Instead of the slivered almonds I have almond flour. How many cups of almond flour should I used?
I appreciate your recommendations. Love your recipes!!
Gracias un Millon!!

Hola Maribel, you can try it with 1 1/2 cups almond flour. Gracias un millón a tí!

Hi Patti,
Love your show, recipes, and your personality. In California I used to buy my sweets from a Mexican bakery, my favorites were vanilla cake like cookies that they called guayabas. They were 2 to 2-1/2″ in diamter and were either plain or with chocolate chips and my favorite, with raisins. Does this sound familiar to you, if so, could you share the recipe? Thank you.

OMG I love requests and questions like this Vicki! You have sent me on a mission, and I will post the Guayaba recipe soon!

Hi Patti love the idea of this cake will be attempting this creation today. I am always looking for healthier options in Mexican food. My children love there abuelitas food and it’s so much fun to cook with them. I also wanted to suggest a great mexican salad that my mom makes.” Ensalada de Nopales”. The whole idea that a cactus that grows in the desert can be so juicy always amazes me!. I haven’t seen anyone make this on TV. It’s a great vegetarian dish super healthy. Fairly easy to make as long as you can find your cactus ha ha. I also love mixing it in with eggs. Nopalitos con huevos casserole. Thank you for the recipe!

That salad sounds delicious Minerva! I actually have a recipe using cactus paddles coming up in my next season. I will keep you updated on when it will air :)

Pati… this recipe is DIVINE! I have been holding on to this since I saw you on PBS and found it as I was going through my stack of printed recipes to try. I am recently gluten free and casein (dairy) free and thought it would be a perfect introduction to GF/CF baking. What a hit! I did use Earth Balance Spread (Original) instead of butter and it came out perfect. The most ideal level of decadence but lightness, touch of sweet but not over-sweet. I took it to work and it is gone… everyone loved it! I cannot wait to make it for my Colombian mother who will be visiting in the next couple of weeks. This will be one I use again and again (and again)… I know it! Easy, simple and most of all delicious!

I wish this recipe had been posted with the cooking time.

Hola Tim, You bake the cake at 350 degrees for approx. 30 minutes; then cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Let me know if you try it!

Hola Pati!

I made an adaptation of this recipe for my husband for Valentine’s Day. I used Mavrodaphne wine instead of Porto and it came out great! We both loved it very much and I had to share with you. Thank you for all your recipes and their breakdowns and especially your “kitchen tools” section. I love seeing the familiar tools that you use and all the chiles and antojos on your site. I have recently been getting into cooking some of my mom’s recipes since I moved to Columbus, OH from California. It’s amazing how food and smells can bring back so many memories of your youth, it helps out especially when I’m missing California and my family.


Hola Joanna, Thank you so much for sharing your adaptation of the almond porto cake…it’s so beautiful!! It’s amazing how comforting the connection of food and memories can be. All my best to you in adjusting to life in Ohio!


I made this last night for our Seder and it was a hit.

Thank you for this keeper!

Thank you, Marlene!!

For those of us that do not use sugar, would honey or maple syrup work for this? What would be the conversion? Thanks,

Yes Jessica, try it with either and do a 1 to 1 conversion. Taste and see if you want to add less the next time around…

Love your show, I watch it every week…can’t wait to try this flour free desert

Thank you for this recipe. I made this last night with Almond Flour that I had leftover from baking macarons. I also had to sprinkle powdered sugar in lieu of the apricot glaze. My husband Loved it, and it was a real treat this morning with my coffee.

Oh I love it for breakfast….

I cut this up and made it into biscoti and it was great.

May I use actual almond paste in this recipe? If so, how much, and how much sugar?

Hi Linda,
It is better if you use either slivered almonds or almond meal, since almond paste already has sugar in it and other ingredients such as oil and sometimes eggs…

Hi Patty! Love, love, love your website!!! Im doing a low carb way of living and I want to do this cake. I have store bought organic almond flour and I want to know how many cups of almond flour for this recipe. I know you ask for 2 cups of slivered almond but I think it will be less once you grind it. Let me know! Gracias mil!

Hola Mayra, Try it with 1 1/2 cups of almond flour. So happy you found my site!!

It’s a pleasure welcoming your recipes into my kitchen! You make such delicious foods & always think of your viewers’ in terms of health.. It’s a lot easier to be gluten-free with these cakes!

My Family is Puerto Rican, but my 2 older sisters’ Father is Mexican so my Mother raised us on Mexican Food! When we moved from Cali to NYC in 1967/8.. Every kid here loved those “round things” aka tortillas which my Mother made from scratch every week.. 12 dozen for the following week! Yes, we’re a big Family!

Thank you for the recipes & your shows on PBS. I will buy EVERY cookbook you put out b/c the way you cook & look at your Danny is the way I hope to cook & look at my sweetheart. BTW, my Father cooked fabulous Puerto Rican food so my Family & Friends were always at a Fiesta! God Bless.

Hi Carmen, Thank you so much for your message! That’s a lot of tortillas your mother made every week; she sounds like an amazing lady!!

Could you use flavorings instead of wine?

Hola Donna, You can leave out the Porto wine. It will be just as good!

Your almond cake will be part of my Passover repertoire from now on. It got rave reviews from all. Just rich enough, not too sweet…..absolutely delicious. Thank you.

I was so inspired to try out this recipe- both my husband and I do not consume eggs- so used chia seeds n yoghurt mix as egg substitute- turned out yum!! Will definitely be making it again !

Wow, what a great idea!

I love that this cake is flourless but is there a substitution for the eggs? My daughter has an egg allergy and gluten intolerance, it would be nice to be able to make her a delicious dessert she could actually eat!

Hola Sherry, I’ve always made it with eggs, but you can try it with a vegan egg replacer instead of eggs.

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