By André de Mendonça
These are lovely little French cakes that go well with tea or coffee or as an after dinner pud with a dab of cream or custard.
Makes 10 but you’ll eat them all!
50g plain flour
60g ground almonds
3 egg whites
150g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter (pure butter not the spreadable type which will not work).
Some flaked almonds or some small pieces of cubed pear or other soft fruit for decoration.
Important – Have a small bowl ready with a fine sieve over it.
Cube and melt the butter in a light coloured saucepan (it will help to you to see the butter turn brown) over a medium high heat and continue cooking it vigourously (it will crackle as the water content is boiled away) until the solids at the bottom turn brown (8-10 minutes but watch it carefully – if it burns you have to start again – there is no rescuing it). Stir it constantly with a balloon whisk whilst you are cooking to ensure the butter browns evenly. You might have to clear the froth to see it going brown or smell the fragrance of cooked hazelnuts to know it is ready. Once it starts to go brown remove from the heat and immediately sieve it into your waiting bowl. If you don’t it will burn! Your Beurre noisette is done…wait for it to cool completely.
Sieve the flour, almonds and icing sugar (which you weighed, not estimated!) into a bowl, make a well and add the egg whites and beat in using a balloon whisk or wooden spoon. Beat the cooled butter in 3 batches into the batter, cover with cling film (the cling film must be in contact with the batter to prevent a skin forming) and put in the fridge for 1 hour.
Turn on your oven to heat to 200C. Butter your molds (muffin molds or barquettes are ideal ) with melted butter (you could reserve some of the beurre noisette) and add a generous tablespoon of the dough allowing for a little rise. Put a few pieces of flaked almonds or bits of fruit in the middle and begin baking at the high temperature for 5 minutes after which turn down to 180C for 10 minutes… Keep an eye on them towards the end as every oven is different. Test with sharp knife to see if they are done.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling…but you won’t be able to resist a tester for the cook… and dust with icing sugar! Easy and scrumptious.