Serves 8

Ground walnuts and brown butter are the secret to the super-moist texture of this torte, says Nicole Krasinski, pastry chef and co-owner of State Bird Provisions and the Progress in San Francisco. "We loved this dessert so much after creating it for O that we put it on the menu at the Progress," she says. The cake can be wrapped and stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


For the Cloud Cream
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp.whiskey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt

    For the Cake
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/4 cup rosemary leaves (from about 3 large stems), plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 cup raw walnut halves or pieces, plus more for garnish
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp. all-purpose flour, divided
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt


    Active time: 1 1/2 hours
    Total time: 6 hours

    Make cloud cream: Pour maple syrup and whiskey into a small pot. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over surface and set aside for 10 minutes. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes.

    Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat heavy cream on medium speed until thick, about 2 minutes. With motor running, drizzle in warm gelatin mixture and add salt. Continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds more. Cover and chill until set and fluffy like marshmallow, 6 hours or overnight.

    Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter bottom and sides of an 8" or 9" springform pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, and butter paper.

    Put butter and rosemary in a large skillet and melt over medium-high heat, stirring often. Continue to cook until solids are brown and butter has a nutty fragrance, about 3 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl, discarding solids.

    In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse walnuts and 2 tsp. flour until very finely chopped (but without forming a paste).

    Fill a medium pot with 2" water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl that will fit nestled in pot above water, whisk together egg whites and sugars. Place bowl over pot and cook, whisking constantly, until sugars dissolve and mixture is just hot to the touch, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining 1/3 cup flour, chopped walnut mixture, and salt. Add brown butter in thirds, whisking well after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until golden brown and center springs back when touched, about 35 minutes. Cool cake for 15 minutes, then remove sides of pan and let cool to room temperature. To serve, transfer cake to a plate, discarding parchment paper. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and walnuts and serve with cloud cream.

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