Culinary SOS: Michael’s on Naples torta di mandorle (almond cake)

Michael’s on Naples in Long Beach makes what reader Paula Gates declares “the most delicious torta di mandorle … rich, moist and just fabulous.” The desserts can be made ahead of time, then plated and garnished before serving, perfect for a dinner party.


1 hour, plus cooling time. Serves 12

Rosemary Syrup

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of water

1 sprig of rosemary

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

In a small saucepan, simmer together the sugar, water and rosemary for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

In a separate saucepan, blanch the basil in boiling water until brightly colored, about 10 seconds. Strain the leaves and immediately place in a bowl of ice water to cool, then drain, squeezing out any excess water.

In a blender, combine the simple syrup and basil leaves and puree together. Strain through cheesecloth to remove any solids. This makes about one-half cup syrup, which will keep for up to 2 weeks, covered and refrigerated.


2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. almond extract

2 to 5 Tbsp. whole milk

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, whisk together the sugar, extract and milk to form a glaze. This makes a generous 1 cup glaze.

Almond Cakes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 Tbsp. almond paste

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. almond extract

6 eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 Tsp. (2 2/3 oz.) flour

Toasted sliced almonds, for garnish


Rosemary syrup

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 (3-ounce) ramekins.

Cream together the butter, almond paste and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the extract, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated. Fold in the sifted flour.

Divide the mixture among the ramekins, filling each two-thirds full.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet (this may need to be done in batches), and bake until the cakes are set and a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool the cakes, still in the ramekins, on a rack.

Before serving, remove the cakes from the ramekins and top each cake with a little glaze and a sprinkling of toasted sliced almonds. Place each cake on a serving plate and garnish with the rosemary syrup.

Each serving: 305 calories; 4 g protein; 31 g carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 19 g fat; 11 g saturated fat; 134 mg cholesterol; 26 g sugar; 39 mg sodium