Thursday 22 March 2012

Warm lavender almond cakes

Books, good food and exotic places – could there be anything more irresistible? Over at her Kahakai Kitchen blog, Deb Christensen writes: “Kahakai is a Hawaiian word for beach. Living in beautiful Hawaii, I like to spend time at the beach and in the kitchen. This blog is about cooking, eating and living (mostly healthy) in Paradise.”

Imagine how thrilled I was to find that she’d turned her attention to The Lantern…and some little Warm Lavender Almond Cakes! Here’s an extract from her blog with the recipe, with a shout-out to the excellent cookery writer Jerry Traunfeld.
 “We had some unusual weather for Hawaii several days last week. Heavy rains, multiple thunderstorms with lightening, hail... even a tornado not that far from where I live. It was perfect weather to tuck into a Gothic mystery novel like The Lantern…

“For a dish inspired by the novel, although there were plenty of wonderful sounding dishes, meals and ingredients throughout the book it was obvious from the cover alone that it had to be something involving lavender. Plus, lavender plays heavily in Bénédicte's story. I had a few recipes tagged to make, even a savory fish dish, but I decided to crack open The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking With Fragrance and Flavor by Jerry Traunfeld (a cookbook that I would also describe as lush and beautiful) and I was immediately drawn to the Warm Lavender Almond Cakes.
“Jerry Traunfeld says, "These cakes are miraculous. You whiz everything up in a food processor, pop the batter into the refrigerator overnight, and then scoop into ramekins or muffin tins to bake. You'll be amazed. The warm slightly chewy cakes have a light crisp crust and a dense, moist interior suffused with the deep flavors of nuts, lavender, and honey, almost like a cross between a cake and a macaroon. Serve them in summer with lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream and fresh berries, or end a winter meal with the same cream and a fruit compote. Or simply cut them in quarters and serve them with coffee, tea, or a glass of sherry in any season."

Warm Lavender Almond Cakes
Recipe from The Herbal Kitchen by Jerry Traunfeld
(Makes 6-10 small cakes--depending on size of pan)

1 cup raw sliced almonds
4 teaspoons lavender buds (fresh or dried)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup egg whites (about 6 large)
1/4 cup honey
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
2 tablespoons softened butter, for prepping the molds

Note: Begin preparation at least 1 day before serving.

Put the almonds and lavender buds in a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the powdered sugar and continue to process for 30 seconds. Add the flour and salt and process briefly. Pour in the egg whites and honey and process until combined. Add the melted butter and process for an additional 15 seconds. Scrape the batter into a plastic storage container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or as much as a week.

To Bake: Preheat oven to 350°F.

Generously butter 10 (4 or 6 oz.) ovenproof ramekins or custard cups and place them on a baking sheet, or use a standard muffin tin. Divide the batter evenly among the cups. Bake until the cakes are evenly puffed and the tops crack and turn a deep walnut brown color, 30-40 min., depending on the molds and the temperature of the batter. Cool slightly and tip the cups out of their molds. Serve them while still warm, whole or cut into quarters.

A note on the result from Deb: “ These are lovely little cakes. I always wonder if the lavender will be too strong in a recipes (I have had some lavender-infused dishes that were like eating potpourri--not a good thing), but in these cakes it comes across in a subtle way at first, getting a little stronger but not overpowering, towards the end. I used larger ramekins for these (about 6 oz.) and filled them 3/4 full, so I got six cakes from the batter. Instead of whipped cream, I used
this whipped cashew cream, using up the leftover thick cashew cream from Sunday's soup, and garnished with some fresh organic blueberries. (I adapted the linked Tal Ronnen cashew whipped cream recipe slightly, by using honey as the sweetener and adding almond extract to enhance the flavors in the little cakes.)”

You can read Deb’s blog, and her review of The Lantern by clicking on this link:
Kahakai Kitchen


Reading Tea Leaves said...

Oh they look good Deborah!

As tiny new green tips appear on my lavender with each sunny day, I reminisce of holidays enjoyed in the Languedoc region. Just beautiful.

I read The Lantern last year, adding it to my list of 2011 Book reads. I almost posted a review for it then but felt several excellent book bloggers do that kind of thing so much better! Anyway, I loved your book and was completely wafted away to Provence. The sense of place and fragrance was incredible.

I've been away from blogging for a while but just wanted to acknowledge your comment on my snowy post back in February. I shall look out for the book you mentioned.

I'm now going to have a lovely long catch up with some previous posts!


Karen Wojcik Berner said...

My mouth is watering just looking at the picture and reading the recipe. I bet they are marvelous and will definitely try them in my own kitchen.

Libby said...

Wow! Great pictures and an interesting recipe! As the author, I bet that is gratifying for you to see! I am going to pop over to her blog now :)

;) said...

A nice recipe, a wonderful book for a beautiful moment :)

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