What's Cooking

December’s Choice

Special Dessert for Any Occasion
from Catherine Castle

Two years ago in late December, I discovered almond paste and went down a cake rabbit hole. My family celebrates Christmas on New Year’s Day most years, but that year we were celebrating after January 6, which is Epiphany. Epiphany is the traditional date the Wise Men visited the Christ Child, and to celebrate the event a special cake, with a plastic baby or bean hidden in the cake, is served. The Epiphany cake, often referred to as a King cake or the Three Kings cake, has many forms, flavors, and even many trinkets hidden in it. It is also a tradition in many countries, especially those with a Catholic background.

I’d never heard of a King Cake, except in reference to Louisiana Mardi Gras celebrations. After some research, I decided to come up with my own version of an Epiphany King Cake using almond paste. It took several tries to create something that showed off the frangipane I’d made with almond paste. On my first attempt, using a yellow cake recipe, the frangipane melted into the cake batter and didn’t give me the definition I wanted.

So I began experimenting. I decided I’d make a chocolate spice cake with a frangipane layer. That worked. I’m calling it Epiphany Frangipane Chocolate Spice Cake. If you don’t want to make it an Epiphany cake, complete with trinkets, just call it Frangipane Chocolate Spice Cake. Here’s a tip I learned the hard way – be sure to make the frangipane first!

Also, you may want to consider adding the following:

· 1 bean, or 1 plastic small baby figurine, or several small trinkets. Be sure to tell your guests these items are hidden in the cake!

· Chopped maraschino cherries or chopped candied fruit for decorating the cake. You can add the chopped candied fruits to the baking pan before you add the batter, scattering them evenly around the pan, or you can reserve them and scatter them over the top of the baked cake adhering them to the cake with a bit of confectioner sugar glaze.

Frangipane Chocolate Spice Cake

Frangipane Chocolate Spice Cake

2½ cups sifted cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, divided
4 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine flour with spices and cocoa in a large bowl.

In another bowl, cream shortening until fluffy. Add 1 cup sugar and mix again, then add 1 cup flour and spices. Mix and beat until combined, adding vanilla and ¾ cup buttermilk, ¼ cup at a time, as needed to make batter mixable.

Add remaining flour, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Keep batter scraped down from sides and bottom on bowl while beating.

Add eggs and remaining buttermilk. Beat 2 more minutes on medium.

In a lightly buttered, easy-release Bundt pan, gently pour 2 cups of batter into cake pan, smoothing out until batter is level if necessary.

Almond Cream Frangipane
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
¾ cup almond flour
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Combine ingredients on medium, then on high until fully combined. Refrigerate frangipane until cake batter is ready.

Drop frangipane by teaspoonfuls onto batter, taking care to center in in batter. Or alternately you could pipe frangipane onto batter.

Gently cover frangipane with 1½ cups batter, leveling out if necessary.

Add another layer of frangipane in same manner as before.

Cover with 1½ cups cake batter.

Put upper rack in the lower third of oven. Bake cake for 60-65 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted in cake comes out clean. You need a long skewer, not just a toothpick to test for doneness.

Cool pan upright for 5-10 minutes. Invert onto a wire cooling rack, Cool cake completely on wire rack.

Note: You will have extra batter and frangipane with this recipe. To use remaining mixes, make cupcakes.

Spoon ⅛ cup batter into a cupcake line. Top with 1 teaspoon frangipane, centering it in batter.

Cover frangipane with another scant ⅛ cup batter. Bake at 375° F for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out clean.

I hope you’ll enjoy my cake. While it’s baking check out my romantic comedy with a touch a drama, A Groom for Mama. There’s cake in this book, too. Wedding cake.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes, she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom for Mama.

Buy Now

Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble


Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer, she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems.

In addition to writing, she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting, and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama on Amazon and Barnes and Noble .

Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!