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Pitt Stop: The Famous Burnt Almond Torte from Prantl's, Pittsburgh PA

So, anyone who has ever talked to me (like, ever) knows that sooner or later, we're going to start talking about baked goods.

And a couple of years ago I had a great conversation with a young lady from Pittsburgh who told me a beautiful tale about a famous dessert from her town: the Burnt Almond Torte from Prantl's Bakery. Actually, I believe she referred to it as "a torte worth shoving grandma out of the way to get to quicker." Oddly, I didn't ask any follow up questions.

But suffice it to say, the description left an impression, and when a customer in my Seattle store mentioned that he was headed to Pittsburgh for a visit, I left him with a very strong suggestion that he try this torte.

But he did one better: he brought me back a piece. Apparently not only had he bought one of the tortes, but had become hooked: as he confessed, he had eaten a slice that very morning for breakfast (a practice which I support, btw).

The torte itself has an interesting story, as I learned from a Pittsburgh-based dessert enthusiast

It wasn't until the 1970's though, that Prantl's began to serve its most famous item- the Burnt Almond Torte. In the midst of an unusual surplus of almonds, the Almond Board asked bakers to use more almonds in more creative ways. Henry Prantl, an original owner, traveled to California to learn and came back with an idea for a cake which he refined into the ever-delicious Burnt Almond Torte.

Well, Henry did good, and one taste of this torte reveals why it's an enduring legend in the area. It's comprised of Prantl's "famous yellow 'scrap' batter cake, creamy custard, homemade buttercream and loads of secret recipe toasted almonds", and it is very, very good. The cake itself is light, but don't you dare think it's virtuous, because the thick slab of custard contained inside not only keeps the cake moist, but adds a decadent dimension--which is then multiplied by the addition of thick, creamy buttercream and crunchy, toasty almond slivers. They may think that they're doing a good job of keeping the secret to the preparation of these delicious almonds under wraps, but I'm pretty sure I've figured it out: they mix in a heaping handful of crack.

Because this cake really is that addictive--in Mr. Spy's words, it was "an epic dessert".

Thank you Dennis for bringing back a slice for us to sample!

Prantl's Bakery is located in Pittsburgh; visit their site for locations and details. You can also buy a "travel" version of the torte online here, and if you're feeling brave, you might want to give this copycat recipe a try (though I haven't tried it).

Prantl's Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Reader Comments (8)

"an epic dessert",wow,it is seems delicious !

October 23 | Unregistered Commenterugg boots
I can seriously vouch for the amazingness of this Burnt Almond Torte. We were at a family gathering last year in Pittsburgh when someone brought the torte for dessert. OMG! That was the most amazing dessert I have ever tried. Thanks for reminding me that we need to stop at Prantls on our way home next time. YUMMM.
October 24 | Unregistered CommenterChar
I live in Pittsburgh and it is truly every bit as amazing as the hype. I definitely recommend getting one shipped to you if you are not able to get one in person! Fantastic purchase for parties, especially around the holidays. I was so delighted to log on here and see you supporting one of my hometown favorites! If you ARE lucky enough to be in town and make it to the bakery in person, there's honestly not one thing Prantl's makes that would disappoint, though this is what they are known for.
October 24 | Unregistered CommenterKiri
Being from Pittsburgh I LOVE Prantls Almond Tortes!!!!! I recently (as in within the last two weeks) introduced my best friend and her husband to the absolute delishness that the tortes are. This was after discovering that both of them, both native Pittsburghers had never had one - Oh the travesty! Anyway, I rectified the situation and now we're all living in a happy Almond Torte knowing bliss, and I'm glad that you enjoyed the wonderfulness as well :o)
October 25 | Unregistered CommenterJenny
So glad to see another of Pittsburgh's AWESOME dessert places listed! I recently moved to Seattle from Pittsburgh, and I miss the seriously amazing dessert choices the city had on practically every corner. Polenta bars at Enrico Biscotti, the Potomac Special from the Potomac Bakery (which is almost identical to the above torte), Dozen Cupcakes (which you previously highlighted, and has since grown exponentially) - yum! While maybe not the "foodiest" of cities, Pittsburgh loves its restaurants and bakeries, just loves them.

Thanks for posting this, it brings back happy dessert memories :-)
October 27 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
I live in KY, and recently experienced this torte- it was brought to a coworker by a friend visiting from Pittsburgh. In attempting to describe our feelings about it, we ended up agreeing on something like this: "This is the cake that angels eat when they get married in Heaven." Yes. It really did make a group of grown women say such things. And mean it. :-)
February 6 | Unregistered CommenterSteph
Just introduced to this delicious treat at a wedding reception this weekend. The cake was so light it was like eating air. Today's task was to find a recipe to try back home in Milwaukee.
September 19 | Unregistered Commenterkathy
Hi. Here's the actual recipe:


This was one of Prantl's chefs who was on a local cooking show.
March 4 | Unregistered CommenterBurgh Boy

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