Persian Almond Cake with Saffron and Rose Water

almond cake with rose water and saffron
Diamonds of this floral, marzipan-like cake are crowned with a crunchy, aromatic mixture of pistachios and cardamom.Kat Craddock

This recipe is adapted from Cooking in Iran: Regional Recipes & Kitchen Secrets author Najmieh Batmangli, who describes how a friend's mother in Yazd, Iran, used to make the treats with aromatic pussy willow flowers, which she would spread across a tray of ground almonds, flavoring the nuts with their sweet fragrance. Here, the perfume comes from rose water. When using saffron, Batmanglij says, "to get the best flavor, aroma, and color," grind whole threads with a mortar and pestle and dissolve them in warm water. In this case, the saffron is dissolved into a sugar syrup that binds the almond flour into a thick, marzipan-like paste.

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