I first came across this particular torte, and a beautiful torte it is, while working at a 5 star restaurant called Harrald's during my days as a student at the Culinary Institute of America. The simple buttery cookie crust, the rich almond and poppy filling, and the mound of perfectly sweetened whipped cream created a dessert symphony I had not yet experienced. Memorable it was...and isn't that what culinary greatness is made of? And so because the owner carefully guarded her recipes (especially from Culinary Institute of America students), I managed to extract the basic technique from another CIA student who worked in the kitchen and often prepared it.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it's pretty darn easy! The mixing of the crust and crumble topping is very fast, and then I just mix the filling in the same bowl, without even washing it! (That ought to get your attention!) It's in the oven in about 20 minutes, bakes for about 45, and after cooling, it's ready to be presented with a snowy dusting of powdered sugar and served with a glorious crown of whipped cream. Get ready for ahhh-mazing!
9" or 10" spring form pan
Crust and crumb topping:
8 oz unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups sifted flour (by weight, this should be about 13 oz)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
3 1/2 oz almond paste
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
1 can Solo poppy seed filling
1/4 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whip butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, mixing with a rubber spatula, until crumbly, as pictured above. Press 2/3 of this mixture into a 9" or 10" spring form pan, creating a 1/2" rim along the edge to hold the filling in. In another bowl, mix the sliced almonds into the remaining 1/3 of the dough and set aside.
For the filling, there's no need to wash the large bowl you used for the dough. Just use it as it is for the filling! Into this bowl, break the almond paste into small pieces. Add the egg, poppy seed filling, sugar, lemon juice and peel (don't add the raisins yet!) and beat well, until the almond paste is well incorporated into the mix. Add the raisins. Pour into the crust.
Using your hands, crumble the reserved dough/sliced almond mix evenly over the filling. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.
When cool, remove from pan onto a cake plate. Dust with powder sugar and serve with whipped cream.