Mchekek, or “cracked,” is a small Algerian cake made from almond paste and flavored with an extract of your choice. While baking, the surface cracks, giving it its name. The taste makes me think of baked marzipan.
- If you don’t have whole almonds, you can substitute sliced almonds.
- You can bake these in a mini muffin tin.
- If you forget to add any kind of extract, as I did, you can eat them with a little lemon curd and they will be delicious.
Mchekek (Algerian Cake)
(a.k.a. M’chekek, Mechkek, Mechkouk)
From Mes Inspirations Culinaires
Yield: 24 mini cakes
For the cakes:
- 3 cups almond flour
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 egg whites (from 2 large eggs)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR other extract of your choice (e.g. orange blossom, strawberry, raspberry, pistachio, lemon, etc.)
- Food coloring to match the extract flavor (optional)
For the topping:
- About ¼ cup powdered sugar, for coating
- 24 whole almonds, for decoration
- Preheat oven to 320°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, powdered sugar, and vanilla OR other flavor extract.
- Lightly beat the egg whites and mix into the almond flour mixture, along with the food coloring (if desired). I found it easiest to stir with a sturdy spatula, then switch to mixing with my hands. The final dough should be pliable but not extremely sticky. (It reminds me of a wet marzipan.) You can add the egg whites gradually until you obtain this consistency.
- Shape the dough into balls about 1 ¼ inches in diameter.
- Roll the balls in powdered sugar to coat.
- Place each ball on a baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart, and flatten slightly.
- Press an almond into the top of each ball.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, watching closely to make sure the dough doesn’t color. The outside of the cakes will crack.