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.