I was interested in finding new Christmas desserts from around the world, and I came across this traditional Spanish dessert called “Marquesas.” I was especially thrilled to learn that these cakes use mainly almond flour and are gluten-free. I was looking for a traditional yet gluten-free dessert for my mom for Christmas, so Marquesas fit the bill perfectly. Most gluten-free desserts I’ve come across try to replicate non-gluten-free desserts. In the case of Marquesas, no replication is required because it’s the real deal.
Marquesas are individual serving-size cakes, traditionally square-shaped. If you have a brownie pan on hand, that’s the pan to use. If not, a cupcake pan will do. In my case, by pure chance, I came across a brownie pan while shopping for something else at this deep discount store, Tuesday Morning, so I grabbed it! But before that purchase, I baked the Marquesas in a cupcake pan.
The base for the cake is almond flour. I experimented with unblanched almond flour/meal because that is what I had on hand. It’s probably healthier for us than blanched almond flour since almond meal has added fiber from the almond skins, but the Marquesas didn’t have their characteristically light color (and they collapsed a bit), as I will soon show you. I stuck to blanched almond flour in my subsequent batch. Now on to the method for the recipe. It’s actually quite simple and requires just a few ingredients.
Beat the eggs with granulated and confectioner’s sugar.
Beat until light-colored and doubled in volume. This is where success or failure is determined.
Add some lemon zest.
Combine almond flour, baking powder, and corn starch in a separate bowl.
Then fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Fold carefully so as not to deflate the egg mixture!
Fill the cavities of the pan 2/3 of the way full with the batter. Below, take note that I overfilled each cavity. Don’t do it!!
Because this is how they turned out after baking:
They tasted great nonetheless–like delicate marzipan! To finish, dust the Marquesas generously with confectioner’s sugar while warm and then again before serving (if necessary).
Using the brownie pan and not overfilling the cavities–not to mention using blanched almond flour (and not almond meal)–led to the desired height and shape, as shown below. If using one 20-cavity brownie pan, you’ll have enough batter left over to fill 2 mini-Bundt pans. With the brownie pan, you might be able to fit cupcake paper liners into the pan before dolloping batter into them, but in my case below, I instead greased and floured the cavities using gluten-free flour and skipped the paper liners.
This is a lovely Spanish treat that I’ve prominently placed in my “Keeper” file. That Marquesas are gluten-free is an added bonus!