I love summer. As you can see by my noticeably absent presence on the web, I’ve been enjoying every minute of it. While I’ve taken a break from work (and from blogging), I haven’t taken a break from cooking and eating! Yesterday involved a trip to our local book store, where I devoured every new cookbook I could get my hands on, while my daughter got herself a stack of Thea Stilton books to read through. Normally, I’d peruse the books, find out which ones are worth buying (“worth buying” for me means that I will actually cook from the book, not that the book itself isn’t a good read), then order them online and wait patiently a few days before getting back into them more seriously.
However, while reading from Alexander Lobrano’s new book Hungry for France: Adventures for the Cook and Food Lover, I found a recipe that left me speechless and wanting to make it as soon as I got home. The recipe was titled Little Coriander-Almond Butter Cakes, and Alex brings them to us via chef Cyril Laugier at L’Auberge du Paradis in Saint-Amour-Bellevue. The book provides a culinary tour of France, by region, with recommendations for restaurants and inns while highlighting some exceptional food producers and wine makers. The recipes are fabulous too. As soon as I got home, my daughter and I started baking from the recipe I photographed right out of the book with my iPhone. In case you’re wondering, the book is on my Amazon wish list and is scheduled for my next book purchase!
This is a really basic recipe that comes together in minutes. The one step that usually makes my shy away from trying a new recipe is making brown butter, which involves melting butter and swirling it around the pan until the milk solids start to brown. It’s a tricky venture, even on a good day, but the thought of having delicately scented coriander baby cakes on my counter made me overcome my fear, and am I ever glad that I did!
The trick to successfully making brown butter is to ensure you’re doing NOTHING else. Just focus on the butter, give yourself 5 minutes, and as soon as it starts to change colour, pull it right off the heat. And everything will be fine. For years I’ve been reading about how Chef Michael Smith raves about the flavour of brown butter, but I never imagined how good it could really be. Now, I’m converted, and I’m hoping I will convert you too! Because the rest of the recipe is a cinch to assemble, it’s actually worth it to spend 5 minutes to melt and brown the butter. You will be richly rewarded with one of the best little cakes you’ve ever eaten.
Although Alex calls them Little Coriander Almond Butter Cakes, he does reference the fact that they are indeed a classic buttery two-bite financier and as such, this is how I call them. These were easy to make, and for just the three of us, a perfectly sized recipe, because it yields 12 mini muffin sized cakes. (Yes, you will need a mini muffin pan, but if you don’t have one already, they are very inexpensive to purchase, and nearly all stores carry them, so you don’t have to trek out to a specialty shop to buy one.) We each gobbled a few when they came out of the oven, and that left us with a half dozen for breakfast the next morning. Perfect portions for us. I cannot wait to make these again, only next time I will sub in some nutmeg for the coriander, and I fully expect I will have created a glorified version of a donut shop classic. But I could be wrong. I guess I’ll just have to try, won’t I?
This easy recipe comes from Alexander Lobrano's book, Hungry For France: Adventures for the Cook and Food Lover. Titled Little Coriander-Almond Butter Cakes, these come from chef Cyril Laugier at L'Auberge du Paradis in Saint-Amour-Bellevue. You will love the delicate flavour that coriander brings to this tasty little treat.
Don't be afraid to make the brown butter. If it's your first time, ensure you have no other distractions, and focus your attention exclusively on the saucepan. Although Alex calls for 4 minutes to get the brown butter just right, I needed about 5 minutes. Use your eyes, and if you've got a kitchen timer, that helps too!
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 6 tbsp butter
- 3 large egg whites
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Set a 12 cup nonstick mini-muffin pan on a baking sheet.
- Sift the sugar with the ground almonds, flour, coriander and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
- In a small saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan, until the milk solids begin to brown, about 4 minutes. (Keep your eyes on this constantly, as the butter browns in an instant.)
- Add the egg whites and whisk, gradually incorporating the dry ingredients, until smooth. Gradually whisk the hot brown butter into the batter until smooth.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them up to the rim.
- Transfer to the oven and bake, rotating the pan half way through, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Turn the cakes onto a rack and let cool to room temperature.