Though I haven’t been a food blogger officially for all that long, I have been reading food blogs for a few years now.
One of the first blogs that I ran across was Chocolate & Zucchini. With its clean white design and elegant touches it caught my attention immediate. But it was the writing that kept me coming back. Clotilde’s light, inviting voice, ever elegant and considerate was an a great way to ease into the food blogging world.
So when she got published, I immediately put myself on the Amazon waiting list for her book. Unsurprisingly, the book lives up to my every expectation. Warm, lively writing and carefully thought out recipes make it a delight to read. And watching the process from start to finish through her blog makes it all the more precious.
And though I have bookmarked many of her recipes for experimentation, there was only one that I knew that I immediately had to make.
Ironically enough, it was the second to last recipe in the book.
There was something about the tiny pastry nestles into the bottom of a spoon that cried out to me. Rosy and glossy, it begged to be made.
And since I was muddling about the kitchen anyway with my leg of lamb, these tiny cakes were an easy enough and welcome addition to the dinner table.
In fact, except for the use of honey and butter these tiny morsels were not so much different from my recently beloved macaroons. Containing almost no flour these tiny cakes derive their lovely moist texture from ground almonds which capture the honey and butter within each soft grain.
The combination of honey and almonds is ancient and potent twining exotically to bring out the best in each other. For my adaptation of the recipe I used my beloved mango honey. Though I felt guilty for taking cold processed raw honey and adding it to hot butter and then baking the resulting mixture, the subtle mango perfume that it added was just short of divine.
Though a simple recipe, these tiny cakes have a complex flavor. The browned butter, the almond and the honey each stand on its own. Distinct but balanced.
I have but three commented on the recipe. The first is that it was far too sweet. With a third cup of sugar and a third of a cup of honey to one cup of ground almonds made it almost cloying. Resting overnight mellowed this some what but next time I make this I will use a quarter cup of sugar.
I also found that despite having nonstick pans and greasing them lightly, the cakes still stuck. I would recommend going over the pans well with butter or cooking spray. Especially the sides. In order to get the cakes out of my mini-muffin tins without tearing the edges, I ended up having to carefully poke around each one with a toothpick.
And the third… well the third is more of a personal preference than anything, stemming from my obsession with vanilla. These cakes, like almost any baked good benefited considerably from a nice dose of vanilla. I added vanilla powder since I didn’t want to throw off the moisture content, but seeing as the dough was wet to begin with, I do not think a little vanilla extract would be too amiss.
That having been said, these have become my new favorite cake. Decadently rich and complex I can see them finding their way into gift baskets, into pot luck tables and hostess gifts. Individually wrapped like candies. The fact that they can be whipped up in an instant and later frozen only adds to their already considerable charm.
Mini Honey Financiers
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier
1 cup whole blanched almonds
¼ cup sugar (I prefer raw)
3 Tablespoons flour
1 pinch kosher salt
6 Tablespoons Unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs or 4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
In a food processor combine the almonds, salt, and sugar. Process until the almonds are very finely ground and just begin to clump. For a finer texture use a coffee grinder, but make sure that each batch of almonds has some sugar. The sugar absorbs some of the oils generated from grinding and prevents the almonds from becoming almond butter. Which is tasty but not useful in this recipe.
Combine the almond mixture with flour and set aside in a medium sized bowl.
In a small sauce pan or skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Swirling gently, cook until the butter has browned and begins to smell nutty. If your burner is uneven, swirl more often. Add the honey immediately to stop the butter from over browning and stir until melted. Pour the butter and honey over the almonds, whisking to combine. Once cooled, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Sprinkle in vanilla if using.
Place a one gallon Ziploc bag in a tall glass and poor the batter in. Twist closed just above the batter and seal well, removing as much air as possible. Chill the batter for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease mini-muffin tins with a little bit of butter or cooking spray making sure to grease the sides well.
Snip the tip from the pastry bag and fill the mini-muffin cups A little more than half way. They are cutter when they are small.
Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Store for 4 days at room temperature, sealed in an airtight container or freeze for up to three months.
*** This photo is worth looking at full sized mostly because of the dish. For those curious, it is actually a potters scrap for testing a crystalline glaze. Each of those sunbursts is actually a crystal that grows in the glaze. It is stunning in person. Best of all I picked it up for 7 dollars at RenFaire.