A Fork on the Road

There’s a Greek love story behind Nicaraguan baker’s cake business



Zandra Zampieri’s cakes can be ordered at therealalmondcake.com or 305-968-6551. A 2-pound bundt is $30, a 1-pound heart-shaped cake $22 and a 4-ounce mini cake $5 plus shipping and handling. Free local delivery is available.


Greek Almond Drops (Amigthalota)

These sweet drops, adapted from “The Complete Middle East Cookbook” by Tess Mallos (Tuttle, 1999), can be shaped as a pear with a clove as the stem.

3 cups ground almonds

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

2 drops almond extract

Blend ground almonds with 1/2 cup sugar. Stir in egg whites, lemon zest and almond extract. Mix by hand into a firm dough.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With oiled hands, form dough into walnut-size balls. Bake about 20 minutes, until set and lightly browned.

Dip each warm cooking into some of the remaining confectioners’ sugar, and set aside to cool. Pour half the remaining sugar into an airtight container and arrange the drops in several layers. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over them. Makes 30 cookies.

Per cookie: 96 calories (48 percent from fat), 5.3 g fat (0.4 g saturated, 3.3 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 2.5 g protein, 10.6 g carbohydrates, 1.3 g fiber, 4 mg sodium.


Zandra Zampieri’s Real Almond Cake is a Valentine that makes a delicious gift all year long.

Zampieri grew up in Managua, Nicaragua, and moved to New York to model. She met Greek-born Demetrios Kaparis, a naval architect and engineer, while working as a publicist at a cruise company. Years later, she literally bumped into him in an airport and gave him her card. He called, and they married a few years later.

The couple moved to Miami, where she graduated from the Miramar Cordon Bleu and turned her Greek love story into a cake business.

She found the recipe while visiting her mother-in-law in Greece. She tinkered with it and started selling the cakes to local restaurants. Now she sells them online with a romantic story.

In Greek mythology, the almond symbolizes hope and eternal love. Princess Phyllis was jilted at the altar by her fiancé, Demophon, and died of a broken heart. The gods turned her into an almond tree, but it died. When the remorseful lover came back and embraced the tree, it burst into bloom.

The tradition of giving out odd numbers of almonds at weddings so they cannot be divided grew out of this myth.

Zampieri’s cakes are rich, buttery and moist, made with pure almond paste and thin-sliced almonds, baked fresh to order. After baking, they are soaked in sugar syrup laced with rum.

There are cathedral-shaped bundt cakes and mini cakes in a pink box as well as heart-shaped Valentine’s cakes in red boxes tied in sparkling red ribbons.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.

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