I’m going to be completely honest with you guys. This recipe was brought about by a disastrous cake failure. When planning for this post I had grandeur plans for a supremely moist, citrusy, and blush pink pound cake (hello, spring!) garnished with creamy mascarpone glaze and golden toasted almonds. Sounds pretty dreamy right? Well, things didn’t quite work out as planned, and obviously, this isn’t that cake. But I’m not one bit sorry about it. Because this dessert? It’s even better.
You see, I’ve learned over the years that sometimes the best desserts are born from our harshest lessons in the kitchen. Cake balls for instance. They’re always a crowd-pleaser, and they’re the easiest way to save a dried out cake. So, when I royally screwed up my dreamy pound cake – it was, I kid you not, heavy as a brick – I let myself take a moment (okay a few moments) to wallow in self pity, then I took a deep breath, put on my big girl baker pants, and began brainstorming creative ways to save it. And while I promise you that I did go back and tweak the pound cake recipe to a slight adaptation of a tried-and-true favorite (it’s a beauty all on it’s own), I just couldn’t manage to push these decadent little trifles out of my mind.
The base is a fluffy pound cake that falls on the lighter side of the pound cake spectrum due to the inclusion of baking powder in the recipe (traditionally, pound cake recipes do not include a leavening agent). Prior to baking, blood orange zest is massaged into the sugar then creamed with softened butter, resulting in a moist, vibrant cake with bright, floral citrus notes and tinted a most perfect shade of springtime pink. The cake is then cut into small cubes and layered with ultra-rich, whipped mascarpone that is generously spiked with amaretto liqueur (you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful), as well as fresh blood orange segments and crunchy, toasted almonds.
Are you drooling yet?
Note that while we are on the tail end of citrus season, Moro blood oranges have still been in stock and reasonably priced at our local markets. If you can’t find them, try substituting a more widely available citrus like tangerines or even clementines. I also used a touch of blood orange syrup because I had some leftover from a champagne brunch and thought it would provide an extra boost of pink color, but you can substitute blood orange juice if you don’t have any on hand. Enjoy!
For the Blood Orange Pound Cake:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- zest of 2 blood oranges
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 tablespoons blood orange syrup (or sub 3 tbsp blood orange juice)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
For the Whipped Amaretto Mascarpone:
- 8 oz. mascarpone, chilled
- 8 oz. heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 5 tablespoons amaretto liqueur, such as Disaronno
For the assembly:
- 2-3 blood oranges, segmented
- 1/4 cup almond slices, toasted
- To prepare the Blood Orange Pound Cake: Preheat the oven to 325F and grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then give them a good whisk to ensure they're combined.
- In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar and blood orange zest. Massage the zest into the sugar for about a minute, until very well combined and all of the sugar is tinged pink.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar mixture until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between each addition. Add the almond extract and blood orange syrup or juice and mix well.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in thirds, starting and ending with the flour. Once you add the last of the flour, mix until just combined -- do not over beat.
- Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- To prepare the Whipped Amaretto Mascarpone: In a chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream until it starts to thicken and forms soft peaks.
- Add in the mascarpone and beat until stiff peaks form. Add in the Amaretto and mix to combine.
- To assemble: Cut the pound cake into 3/4 inch cubes and make a layer in the bottom of a mason jar or serving cup of your choice. Top with a layer of blood oranges, then a layer of whipped mascarpone. Add a layer of toasted almonds then repeat.
- You can serve immediately or let set in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors meld together.