My family has made a traditional almond cake for Valentine's Day for longer than I can remember. It is spongy, light, and perfect with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and all of the red and pink crap from the seasonal candy aisle that I love stocking up on every February.
When I took this tradition to college with me, I knew I would be guarded against sad lonely Valentine's Days, or Valentine's Days with incorrect boyfriends whom I couldn't break up with because it was almost Valentine's Day, because I'd always have this cake!
Cake doesn't let you down.
But then I actually tried making the thing all on my own for the first time, without the help of my mom and sister, and realized that whittling a good healthy relationship with a human in time for an evening date might have actually been easier than making this cake.
Shop the Story
In my bedroom in my tiny apartment on the Upper West Side, I spent my entire Valentine's Day sitting on the floor with my one mixing bowl and a fork, brute forcing almond paste together with egg yolks and then trying with all of my might to beat egg whites to a stiff peak.
Under the guise of resourcefulness, I used the same bowl for both of these tasks and didn't really clean it out in between—all of the ingredients were going to the same place anyway. Some tears and sweat probably also got into the batter, though, since those egg whites obviously never reached stiff peaks.
In the end, the cake was still edible, but I then had to make fresh whipped cream with my bowl and fork and it was frustrating and the outcome was truly horrifying.
I probably would have traded it for one terrible date, but at least I toned my arms in the process?