Category Archives: cookies, cakes and chocolate

Recipe of the Week

Flourless Almond Cake

almond cakes

Flourless Almond Cake

The almond is native to modern-day Syria, Israel, and Turkey, though it was spread to parts of Europe and North Africa in antiquity. Romans referred to almonds as “Greek nuts” and showered newlyweds with them as a fertility charm.

This is the perfect Passover cake.

¾ cup sugar
2 cups slivered almonds
pinch ground cardamom
4 eggs
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 stick butter, at room temperature
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Butter a round 9 to 10 inch spring-form pan, and cover the bottom with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Place the almonds, sugar and generous pinch cardamom into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the eggs to the mixture followed by the almond extract. Drop in the butter and process until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the mold. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The cake is done when the top if golden brown, feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold the cake, invert onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto another platter to have the top of the cake right side up.

In a small saucepan, mix the honey with the lemon juice. Set over medium heat and simmer for a couple minutes, until it has the consistency of a glaze.

Spread the honey on the outer circumference of the cake – about 1 to 2 inches – using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the glazed area with the toasted sliced almonds and serve.

Serves 12 to 15

This cake is adapted from Patti Jinich’s Flourless Almond and Porto Cake

Cheddar and Herb Scones

cheddar herb scones

Cheddar and Herb Scones

We made these little nuggets of deliciousness in my English Tea Time class at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens over the weekend. They were delicious.

Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese in the United Kingdom and has been produced in the village of Cheddar in Somerset, England since the 12th century.

To learn some fun facts about tea time in England (and for a recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cardamom Scone) click on The Victoria Appetite

3 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup minced chives
½ cup minced parsley

Preheat the oven to 425º F.

In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together with a fork. Add the cold butter pieces and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse sand. It’s ok if some large pieces of butter remain – they’ll add to the scones’ flakiness.

Pour in 1 cup of buttermilk, add the herbs and cheese and mix until the ingredients are just moistened – you’ll have soft dough with a rough look. (If the dough looks dry, add another tablespoon of buttermilk).

Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it gently so that it holds together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it very briefly.

Roll the dough into small rounds, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops and the bottoms are golden brown. Cool slightly and serve warm.

Makes 12

Cinnamon Babka French Toast with Berry Compote

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Cinnamon Babka French Toast with Berry Compote

If breakfast in bed is in order on Valentine’s Day — or any day — this decadent french toast recipe is full of proven aphrodisiacs…

Cinnamon was known for its sensual appeal in the ancient world and at one time was more valuable than gold because of its curative properties. It is among the spices considered useful for producing heat within the body and is known to increase appetite — both physical and sexual. As for berries, blueberries promote blood flow and help keep you young and energetic, raspberries and strawberries are full of antioxidants and are plump, pretty, and seductive. For more info about these and other aphrodisiacs check out Eat Something Sexy.

Click here for a blog I wrote on ancient aphrodisiacs and watch this great video collaboration with Carin Krasner with a step by step demo on how to make this sultry, comforting and delicious meal. Recipe below.

For the French Toast:
6 slices slightly dry day old cinnamon babka, sliced 1″ thick (Dean & Deluca makes the best babka on the planet)
5 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, for frying

For the Berry Compote:
1 pound mixed fresh berries
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water

Make the compote. In a medium saucepan, combine the berries with the sugar and the water and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the berries are softened and the sugar is dissolved, about 8 minutes.

Whisk together eggs and milk in a bowl. Add vanilla, sugar, and salt, whisk to combine.

Put the babka slices in a pie plate and pour the egg mixture over them. Let soak for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Heat a large heavy skillet on medium heat.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet, add the babka and cook until golden brown 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with berry compote or with maple syrup.

Serves 2

Champurrado

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Champurrado

Champurrado is a warm, thick Mexican drink made of chocolate and corn masa often served around the holidays. Though popular today, the drink has Mayan origins. It combines the major crops of maize and cacao, which were viewed as cosmic opposites. Maize, which needs full sun to grow and was the life source of Mesoamerica, represented life; cacao, which requires shade and was consumed only by the elite in their society, represented death. One was a basic necessity the other was synonymous with luxury and status. On a practical level, the caffeine in the cacao served as a stimulant and the maize provided calories and nutrition.

Think of this when you froth your champurrado or hot chocolate with a molinillo, a wooden whisk for the sole purpose of creating froth in hot chocolate (and my favorite kitchen gadget.) Click here for more fun facts on chocolate watch this fun video collaboration by Carin Krasner showing how to make it.

Happy Holidays!

1 ½ cups hot water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
¼ cup masa flour, masa harina brand is a good and easy to find option
3 cups milk
2 tablets chocolate, chopped
ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)

Bring the water and spices to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the spices.

Slowly whisk in the masa flour, whisking continuously until smooth and thickened.

Add the milk and chocolate to the mixture. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir constantly, until thickened. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve with a delicious concha or the pan dulce.

Serves 4