My family LOVES almond halwa or what is also known as badham halwa. They absolutely love it! However I only make it once a year. Why? The reason I only make it once a year is because after I measured the amount of butter it takes to make almond halwa taste great – let’s just say, it was a lot of butter!! I couldn’t knowingly make almond halwa with so much butter, I just couldn’t.
The down side or upside to paying attention to how we cook and measuring how much of an ingredient we cook with, is that we become aware of how much of an ingredient we actually use to make our dishes taste great. In this case, once I started measuring the amount of butter or ghee I had to use to make my almond halwa, I decided it was best for the health of the family that I only make it once a year. Besides, it takes a very long time to make this dessert, more than an hour of stirring and stirring ground almonds, ghee, sugar, and milk until a thick almond truffle-like consistency is formed. Then cardamom is added to spice it up and it is eaten warm or at room temperature with a cup of tea. The almond halwa is delicious beyond belief 😋.
Almond halwa has ghee coming out its ears – meaning it is floating in ghee, but that is what makes this halwa taste amazing. Believe me, I’ve tried making almond halwa with less ghee but it doesn’t taste the same. Why bother with a favorite dish if it doesn’t satisfy our craving? That’s why I make my almond halwa once a year – we can enjoy this dessert with our eyes wide open knowing exactly what is in this decadent sweet.
Which brings me to this almond halwa cake. I wanted to see if I could replicate the flavor of almond halwa but in a cake form – cake is so much easier to make than halwa. I thought with so many recipes out there for baking with almond flour surely I could replicate the flavor of almond halwa? All I had to do is add cardamom to give the cake that almond halwa flavor. However I was having a hard tome finding a good cake recipe that used pure almonds; most recipes for almond cakes and tarts use marzipan. Marzipan to me doesn’t taste as pure as pure wholesome almonds, so I decided to find a regular cake recipe that would give me the freedom to improvise.
The recipe I used as the base for my almond halwa cake is from King Arthur Flour. I used their Vanilla Cake recipe as my starting off point, I then substituted half of the flour with toasted almond meal. I added some cardamom powder, and then after the cake was baked, I soaked the cake with simple syrup infused with more cardamom and butter (remember, I want to replicate my buttery almond halwa).
When I served my almond halwa cake I asked the family if it tasted like their favored almond halwa, and the response was a unanimous “Yup, it sure does taste like almond halwa!” Rani said, “Wow Mommy, I’m impressed.” Jackpot! This is the reaction I wanted. This recipe worked! I can now make an almond halwa knockoff at a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the butter. But somehow why do I feel I am not off the hook to make my annual original almond halwa 😋🙂??
Almond Halwa Cake
makes one large cake
Ingredients for cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup almond meal
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tsp cardamom powder
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan. Line with parchment paper and grease with butter.
- In a bowl add vanilla and cardamom powder to milk and set aside.
- In a pan lightly roast almond meal until it releases it’s almond aroma and the raw almond flavor is gone. The almond meal will become coarser as it is being roasted. About 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer until butter is roughly incorporated into the flour mixture. It will look like a coarse meal.
- Add the cardamom vanilla milk and whisk until well incorporated.
- Next add eggs and continue whisking for 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are well blended and creamy.
Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. If the top of the cake starts burning halfway through the baking process, place aluminum foil over the pan and continue baking until done.
While the cake is cooling make the cardamom syrup.
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tbsp almond liqueur such as amaretto (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds for garnish – this is what gives the cake that extra almond halwa texture
- Melt butter, sugar and water along with cardamom powder until butter and sugar are dissolved. Add almond liqueur and mix-in.
- Poke holes in the cake and drizzle cardamom syrup over the cake.
- Top with chopped almonds and dust with cardamom powder. Almond Halwa Cake is ready.
- Serve almond halwa cake with a hot cup of tea for a satisfying almond treat.