almond joy cake with a marzipan unicorn



instead of going the pumpkin route to celebrate the october season, i decided to convert my favorite halloween candy – almond joy – into a cake. i filled two 6-inch rounds of flourless chocolate cake with creamy coconut and frosted them with sweet almond cream cheese buttercream. if you’re a diehard fan of Everyone’s Favorite Squash, you could bake up a layer of pumpkin bread to stick in between the fudgy chocolate layers and i’m sure it would still be good. also, i refrained from using actual almonds, because i think sticking nuts in a dessert tends to ruin it. however, some toasty almond slivers could look nice on top, if desired.

when i don’t know how to decorate a cake, i automatically turn to marzipan. that’s pretty much all the justification i have for the rainbow unicorn. it’s a half-hearted attempt to conceal the crusty edge of cake that proved too dark for two coats of frosting. i also topped it with some edible glitter my best friend got me from southern season. it sort of resembles flaky fish food (in the best way possible). i’ve been using it to top everything from hot chocolate to fairy toast.

though this cake does have a slightly dense crumb, its absence of flour is virtually unnoticeable, rivaling store-bought gluten-free mixes. to make it more halloweenie, feel free to dye the frosting and marzipan orange, cut out a witch hat instead of a unicorn, and/or adorn with candy corn.

adapted from la casa del sweets


  • 1 stick butter, cubed or at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder


  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • marzipan and gel food coloring
  • cookie cutter of choice
  • edible glitter or sprinkles

preheat the oven to 375°. grease two 6-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. in a large, heatproof bowl, melt the butter and chocolate chips together over a saucepan of simmering water until they’ve melted together (you can also do this in the microwave, melting in 30 second increments). whisk until smooth. set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes. add the sugar, salt, and eggs to the melted chocolate, whisking until smooth. whisk in the cocoa powder until combined.

divide the cake batter equally between the two greased cake pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely. once the cakes have cooled, refrigerate for at least 1 hour before frosting.

for the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. add the extracts. gradually beat in the powdered sugar, then beat on high until fluffy and increased in volume. in a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup of frosting with the coconut.

for the marzipan unicorn, dye seven small balls of marzipan with each color of the rainbow. roll each ball into a snake, then squish them together on top of a piece of wax paper. cover with another sheet of paper and roll out into a smooth rectangle. stamp out a shape with the cookie cutter. set aside.

to assemble the cake, invert one layer onto a 6-inch circle of cardboard. spread on the coconut frosting mixture, then top with the other layer (also inverted). cover the entire cake with frosting, taking care to fill in all the gaps. don’t worry if some crumbs show through. freeze for 10-20 minutes, then cover with another coat of frosting. chill briefly in the fridge, then pipe a border around the cake’s top edge (i used a closed star tip to make a classic shell border). add the marzipan cut-out to the side, and sprinkle the top with glitter. keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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