Recipe: Flourless Almond Cake (Tarta de Santiago)


When I think of Spanish desserts, I think of almonds. Whether they’re sprinkled upon Panchineta, used to fill little Panelletts, or permeating through crumbly Polvorones, almonds are ubiquitous in Spanish treats. In fact, that sweet almond flavor still lingers in my memories from my first trip to Madrid, to visit my aunt and uncle when I was just 4 years old. Each and every return visit has further sealed this association!

So when I was thinking about what dish to make last weekend for the “healthy” post-5K party, I thought about a traditional Tarta de Santiago, or Almond Cake, a traditional Spanish dessert. Here’s the secret – it’s deceptively easy to make, with just a few simple ingredients. It also happens to be naturally gluten-free and dairy-free! It’s a dessert that I plan to keep in rotation as my sister has Celiac and this is one of those recipes where you do not miss the flour! In fact, it was a huge hit at the party and all of my friends loved it. I think you’ll love it too!




  • 1/2 pound (1 3/4 cups) almonds
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for decoration
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Finely grind the almonds. I don’t own a food processor, but I was able to use a blender with great results. I started with slivered almonds, and pulsed until the almonds took on the texture of coarse sand, as illustrated in the photo above.
  3. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks and whites in separate bowls.
  4. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. If you use a stand mixer as I did, you’ll want to use the whisk attachment and a high speed setting. Whip until the egg whites expand in volume and take on a fluffy consistency.
  5. Next, beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a pale yellow cream. Note: if you use the same stand mixer bowl, be sure to do the egg whites first so the yolks do not disrupt the whipping process in step 4! Here, I used the paddle attachment.
  6. To the egg yolk mixture, add the lemon juice , almond extract, and ground almonds; mix well.
  7. Carefully fold the the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture. This is what gives the cake its light texture so be gentle!
  8. Lightly grease a cake or tart pan. I used a 9 inch glass pie dish, which worked well. Pour in the batter, and bake for 40 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes prior to turning out, or simply leave it in the pan.
  9. Prior to serving, sprinkle the top with confectioners’ sugar. You can use cutouts or stencils to make pretty designs on top. I used a heart shape cookie cutter for mine!

4 Comments on “Recipe: Flourless Almond Cake (Tarta de Santiago)”

  1. I actually thought of you when I made it because it’s gluten-free! I think you and your family will love it – very traditional European flavors.

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