Try a cherry almond cakelette
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado High Country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
No, these aren’t cupcakes. I know they look like them, but they’re not as sweet or as rich, and I doubt they’d be a hit at a children’s party. They’re more sophisticated and refined in taste, with the classic combination of almond and cherry flavors, a tight, dense texture and a medium crumb. A dark cherry, buried within each cakelette and a topping of whipped cream adds to their elegance and appeal.
The recipe, reminiscent of financiers (a famous French tea cake), comes together in about 15 minutes of active time and requires 15 minutes or less in the oven.
The almond flavor in these pastries comes from almond flour. If you’re unacquainted, it’s almonds ground so fine they have the texture of wheat flour. Packaged commercially by Bob’s Red Mill, it’s available at City Market and Whole Foods. You can make your own by grinding raw almonds in a food processor until they have the consistency of meal. Be sure to stop processing the nuts before they release their oils and form a paste; they should have a dry, flour-like quality.
Bake the cakelettes in a pan with cups that are at least 1 inch deep or the cherries won’t be properly submerged in the batter. They’re best the day they are made, but can be baked in the morning, covered, stored at room temperature and served later in the day.
Cherry Almond Cakelettes
Makes 10 two-inch cakes
Make in a mini-muffin pan with cups at least 1 inch deep and 2 inches wide
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup flour (spoon and level)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour (spoon and level)
½ cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
½ teaspoon salt
2 extra-large egg whites
¼ teaspoon of almond extract
2 teaspoons creme de cassis
10 pitted dark cherries, canned or frozen and thawed
Sweetened whipped cream, flavored with creme de cassis
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line cups of mini-muffin tin with liners greased with vegetable oil-flour spray.
2. Brown the butter by melting it in a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the butter gets foamy, starts to darken in color and has a nutty aroma. Remove it from the heat (it burns easily), skim off any foam that’s formed on top and set it aside.
3. Combine flour, almond meal, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk until well mixed and free of lumps. Add the egg whites and almond extract and mix until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the creme de cassis, followed by the browned butter. If there is sediment at the bottom of the butter skillet, don’t include it. Set the bowl aside for about 15 minutes.
4. While the batter rests, drain the cherries and dry them on paper towels. They should be moist but not wet.
5. Spoon about one tablespoon of batter into each cup. Push a cherry gently into each, then add more batter to cover. Fill to about 1/4 inch from the top. Smooth and level the batter in each cup. Bake until the tops are set and golden. This takes from 11 to 15 minutes in my oven. Don’t over-bake, or the cakelettes will be dry.
6. Remove the pan from the oven and as soon as they’ve cooled enough to touch, remove the cakelettes, in their liners from the pan. Place them on a cooling rack to cool completely. Top with a swirl of sweetened, creme de cassis flavored whipped cream before serving.
This recipe is inspired by one from Martha Stewart’s “Living.”
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.
BEAVER CREEK — Vail Christian High School’s 20th graduating class was the school’s largest — 48 students. That group accomplished a lot.