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Spa Cuisine: Almond Joy

Cathy Christensen June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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As my brother and I grow older, we are beginning to discuss some of the finer points of being our parent's children. One of these concerns, mixed nuts, were always a big thing in my household. My dad is a fanatic when it comes to cashews, and Mom can’t resist almonds and pecans. Even to this day, they always have a can of mixed nuts at home, but because they pick and choose their favorites after opening the can, the nuts usually turn into mostly peanuts. And, really, who can blame them? Why settle for a paltry peanut when you can munch on an amazing almond?

In the kitchen

More than 70% of surveyed consumers are more interested in a dish or product when it contains almonds.1 And as society becomes more health-conscious, these crunchy, nutrient-packed nuts are prized for being tasty, filling and good for the skin. They are an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, while also supplying a variety of other vitamins and protein. Almonds are commonly used in salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts,1 and, from the Bible to King Tut, they have forged a path through history, still remaining relevant and delicious.2

At Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas, you can enjoy Cheese Ravioli With Almond Pesto as an entrée, and the sweet and buttery Almond Torte is a delicious dessert at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls in Logan, Ohio. Continuing in the dessert vein, the Almond Tortoni Delight is offered at La Dolce Vita in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the Walnut and Almond Cake, Orange-Pomegranate Compote is the perfect meal-ender from chef Mathew Peters at The Ritz-Carlton Naples in Naples, Florida.

In the spa

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Spa Cuisine Recipe: Walnut and Almond Cake, Orange-Pomegranate Compote

Walnut and Almond Cake, Orange-Poimegranate Compote

From Chef Mathew Peters, The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Naples, Florida

Makes 10 servings


  • 1 3⁄4 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1⁄4 cup cake flour
  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

Syrup and compote:

  • 4 large oranges, peel of 1 orange removed in strips
  • 1 cup pure, unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate liquor
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

Whipped cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1⁄2 vanilla bean
  • 3⁄4 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with oil. Combine walnuts, almonds and cake flour in processor. Grind nuts finely.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks, lemon zest, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl until it begins to thicken, about three minutes. Gradually add 1⁄2 cup sugar, beating until very thick and light in color. Beat in orange juice, then fold in nut mixture. Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1⁄2 cup sugar, beating until stiff, but not dry. Fold egg whites into yolk mixture in three additions.
  3. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until puffed and deep golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack.
  4. Place large sieve over bowl. Cut off all peel and pith from oranges. Working over sieve, cut oranges between membranes to release segments into sieve. Squeeze any juice from orange membranes. Let oranges drain while preparing syrup.
  5. Bring pomegranate juice, sugar, lemon juice and reserved orange peel to boil in medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and thin syrup forms. Remove from heat. Holding orange peel back with spoon, pour 3⁄4 cup syrup into small bowl. Spoon over cake, and let stand at least one hour.
  6. Add drained orange juice to remaining syrup in pan. Boil syrup with peel until reduced enough to coat spoon, about eight minutes. Discard peel. Mix in pomegranate seeds and liquor, then chill.
  7. Place orange segments into a separate bowl until ready to serve.
  8. In a large bowl, add the whipping cream, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, and powdered sugar. Whisk until strong peaks are formed. Refrigerate and reserve until ready to serve.
  9. Cut cake lengthwise into 2 1⁄2 inch wide strips. Cut strips on diagonal into diamonds. Place on plates, and place orange segments around cake. Spoon syrup around cake, add whipped cream to top and serve.

Spa Cuisine: Quick Facts

  • Egypt’s famed King Tutankahmun took several handfuls of almonds to his grave in 1352 BC to nourish him on his journey to the afterlife.2
  • Almost one in four new products in the United States introduced with nuts in 2006 featured almonds.1
  • In the Bible’s book of Jeremiah, a rod of almond is seen as a sign of rebirth.2
  • Almonds are low in saturated fat and are cholesterol-free.1
  • Almond blossoms figured prominently in the design of the Menorah, as Moses was instructed to shape its cups like almond blossoms.2
  • There are four main varieties of almonds: Nonpareil, Carmel, Mission Type and California Type.1
  • Van Gogh devoted more than 12 paintings to almond plants.2



    (All accessed Mar 31, 2008)

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