Flourless Almond and Porto Cake main


Flourless Almond and Porto Cake

This cake is a treat. What’s more, being flourless, it is perfect for both gluten free eaters and the coming Passover week.

As a fan of marzipan this cake feels like a fluffy, smooth, tasty piece of marzipan that has turned into a cake to become a bigger, lighter and longer lasting version of itself. It can be served as a dessert, with some whipped cream on top. If you are lucky to have some leftover, it makes for a decadent breakfast with a side of berries and some hot coffee or tea.

The recipe comes from the Mexican convent of San Jerónimo, where Mexico’s most famous nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was settled. It dates to the late 1600’s. Spanish nuns who came to help establish the different convents, had an indomitable sweet tooth, which paired with Mexico’s exotic ingredients, made for some of the country’s dearest and sweetest desserts. Centuries later, these desserts are staples in Mexico’s kitchens.

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake 1
There are many kinds of nut cakes or tortes in Mexican cooking, with pinenuts, pecans, and hazelnuts amongst some. They can be sweetened with sugar or in some cases with sweetened condensed milk. I find that when trying and testing desserts inherited from convents or nuns, I need to pump down the sugar a bit. So if you want the original flavor, add an extra 1/3 cup sugar to the recipe below…

For this cake, almonds are used, and a couple other ingredients. It is a snap to make in the food processor or blender.

Just grind the already slivered almonds and sugar, less than a minute. Once ground, add the butter at room temperature, the eggs, vanilla and if you want a hint of alcohol, like the nuns from San Jerónimo, add some Porto wine.

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake 2
Pulse again, until well combined. Less than a minute too…

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake 3
Pour the batter over a buttered pan with its bottom lined with parchment paper.

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake 4
The batter will look rather thin, barely filling the pan, but that is ok… Put it in the oven…

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake 5
Take it out about 30 minutes later. Once it has a nicely tanned top and a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool a bit and turn it onto a plate. Remove the parchment paper and turn onto another plate, just to have it right side up.

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake 6
Mix some apricot marmalade with lime juice (the nuns from San Jerónimo only used apricot marmalade, but I wanted to pump up the acidity… up to you) in a sauce pan and let it heat for a couple minutes. Until it dissolves.

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake 7

Brush the glaze, wherever you want to decorate with some lightly toasted sliced almonds… Here is a photo of the decoration process, halfway through…

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake 8
And away you go!

No doubt, one of the tastiest parts of my job, as I research through the history of Mexico’s cuisine, is to test centuries’ old recipes in my kitchen. In this case, the flavors of the convent of the Jerónimas traveled directly to Washington DC, helping me taste a bit of their history. You can get a taste of it in your own kitchen too…

Flourless Almond and Porto Cake

Pastel de Almendras con Porto

Recipe Yield

12 to 15 servings

Cooking time

40 minutes

Rate this recipe

5 from 2 votes


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Porto wine optional or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup apricot marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds lightly toasted
  • Whipped cream optional

To Prepare

  • Butter a round 9 to 10 inch spring-form pan, and cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place the almonds and sugar into a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Crack the eggs on top of the mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract and Porto wine, if you will use it. Drop in the butter chunks, and process until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the batter into the mold. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The top will be nicely tanned, and the cake will feel springy to the touch and a toothpick should come out clean if inserted in the cake.
  • Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold the cake, invert onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto another platter to have the top of the cake right side up.
  • In a small saucepan, mix the apricot glaze with the lime juice. Set over medium heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • With a brush, spread the apricot glaze on the outer circumference, about 1 to 2 inches, on the top of the cake. Sprinkle the glazed area with the toasted sliced almonds. You may serve the cake with whipped cream on the side, or on the top of the cake.


67comments inFlourless Almond and Porto Cake

  1. Dina

    Mar 28

    So simple to make, and so delicious. Made it for our Seder, and will definitely be making it again.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 11

      SO happy you liked it Dina, un abrazo!

  2. Tita

    Aug 16

    This is very easy to make. I used coconut sugar, but otherwise I had all the other ingredients handy. We enjoyed the buttery, caramel aroma, even before the cake came out of the oven. Thank you!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 18

      So glad you liked it Tita, thanks to you!

  3. Phil M

    Aug 14

    This cake was amazing! We used guava preserves and lime. Wow! Thank you for the recipe!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 18

      Yum Phil! Sounds like it was delicious, thanks for sharing 😉

  4. Kim

    Apr 19

    I don’t have a port. What can I substitute? Also I have preserves but not an apricot. I have cherry, orange, and peach. What could I use in place of the apricot?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 19

      Hi Kim! If you don’t have Port you can either leave it out or use a bit of brandy. To substitute apricot preserve, I think peach will work well. Good luck 😉

  5. Sara

    Jan 06

    This was my first try at making a cake and it was delicious! Thank you for such a quick and easy gluten-free recipe for those of us that are baking-challenged.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 07

      That’s awesome that this was your first cake, Sara!

  6. Patty

    Oct 27

    Can I use whole almonds or do I need the slivered?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 29

      You can use whole almonds, Patty.

  7. Valerie Lawrence

    Jul 26

    I love almond anything but been looking for a cloudless almond cake and yours sounds sooo good. I can’t wait to make it can you use almond flour just almonds? Then add sugar?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 07

      Exactly! Enjoy the cake, Valerie.

  8. Twigwoman~

    Apr 20

    Perfect for Passover!!!! I love the idea of apricots and fresh lime juice!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 20

      Such a yum combo!

  9. Mimi

    Apr 05

    I would like to make this for Passover, but my friend is allergic to almonds (but not other nuts). Do you think I can sub another nut for the almonds? I know the fat content is different–do you think another nut will behave the same as almonds? If so, what do you recommend? Walnuts? Hazelnuts? Something else?

    1. Pati

      Apr 07

      Si! You can make it with pecans or pinenuts. Should be delicious. ​

  10. Sherry Borzych

    Jun 14

    I love that this cake is flourless but is there a substitution for the eggs? My daughter has an egg allergy and gluten intolerance, it would be nice to be able to make her a delicious dessert she could actually eat!

    1. Pati

      Jun 19

      Hola Sherry, I’ve always made it with eggs, but you can try it with a vegan egg replacer instead of eggs.

  11. Such

    May 08

    I was so inspired to try out this recipe- both my husband and I do not consume eggs- so used chia seeds n yoghurt mix as egg substitute- turned out yum!! Will definitely be making it again !

    1. Pati

      May 10

      Wow, what a great idea!

  12. karen b.

    Apr 04

    Your almond cake will be part of my Passover repertoire from now on. It got rave reviews from all. Just rich enough, not too sweet…..absolutely delicious. Thank you.

    1. Pati

      Apr 05


  13. Donna Lineback

    Aug 11

    Could you use flavorings instead of wine?

    1. Pati

      Aug 11

      Hola Donna, You can leave out the Porto wine. It will be just as good!