1. Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 7-inch square baking pan. (Check the bottom measurement of your 8-inch square pans—most pans measure only 7 inches square on the bottom.)
2. Almond Cake Batter: In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the almond paste at low speed just to break it up, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar in a steady stream, and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the zest. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture from the sides into the center of the bowl when necessary. Lower speed, and blend in the flour until mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined. Spread evenly into pan.
3. Bake for 25 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Remove pan to a wire rack until completely cool.
4. White Chocolate Glaze: Melt the butter, shortening, and white chocolate in a bowl that fits snugly over a pan of 120-degree-F water. Stir until the glaze is smooth and liquid.
5. Using a 1½-inch round cutter, cut out rounds from the cake in the baking pan. Transfer the cake cutouts to wire racks, spacing them 1 inch apart. Place racks over a jelly-roll pan to catch drips when glazing. Ladle about 2 tablespoons of the glaze over each pastry, masking it completely.
6. When no more glaze remains in the bowl, pour the glaze from the jelly-roll pan back into the bowl, and reheat over hot water. It’s useful to pour the glaze through a sieve before reheating, since some cake crumbs may have fallen into it during the masking.
7. After all the pastries have been coated, move each pastry gently from its base with a small metal spatula so that any drips are cut from its underside while the coating is liquid. This neat finish also keeps the pastries from sticking to the rack.
8. Melt the semisweet chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of 120°F water. Half fill a small handmade paper cone with the dark chocolate glaze. Before the white chocolate glaze sets on the pastries, pipe several tiny polka dots on the minicakes with the darker chocolate glaze. Stir ¼ cup of the remaining white chocolate glaze into the melted chocolate. Replace bowl over hot water and stir until smooth and liquid.
9. When the glaze has set, carefully lift the pastries, one by one, with a small metal spatula, and transfer them to a foil-lined cardboard container, such as a cake box. Store, covered, in a cool room up to 1 day. When ready to serve, place the pastries in small paper cases, if you prefer.
Cranberry Almond Cake
Fold ½ cup fresh cranberries into the almond cake batter. After baking and cooling the cake, sprinkle with powdered sugar instead of the white chocolate glaze with polka dots.