Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Brown Butter Choc Chip Friands – We Should Cocoa 21

Newly introduced to friands, I am now a real fan. Half way between a macaroon and a cake, these are gloriously crisp on the outside, soft and delectable on the inside. As soon as Laura of How to Cook Good Food announced this month’s ingredient for We Should Cocoa was to be almonds, friands were the first thing that popped into my head. And that idea has not gone away. Friands it is then.

Friands are very similar to financiers. Without being an expert on the subject and unable to find much information about these little cakes, it seems that friands are the antipodean version of the French financier. Financiers are traditionally baked in a rectangular shape and are made with brown butter or hazelnut butter (beurre noisette) as it is known in France. Friands are, apparently, baked in oval moulds. Mine are baked in round moulds because that’s all I have. Anyway, I thought I’d try baking some friands with the traditional financier brown butter to see what difference it made.

Co-incidentally, minutes before I was about to bake these, I read a post for brown butter chocolate chunk cookies over at The Little Loaf. As well as using buerre noisette in her cookies she had also used buckwheat flour to make them gluten free. Well what a brilliant idea. Friands don’t have much flour, relying mostly on ground almonds, so it seemed an opportunity not to be missed to make them gluten free.

It is always useful to have a few good gluten free recipes up ones sleeve. Coeliac disease is something we are becoming increasingly aware of. However, although CT has a friend who suffers from it, I had no idea it was quite as prevalent as it is, with 1 in 100 people being affected by it in the UK. It is an autoimmune condition affecting the lining of the small intestine and is triggered by the consumption of gluten. Gluten is found in a number of grains, but specifically wheat, rye and barley. Katie of Apple & Spice who was diagnosed with the disease about a year ago is running a coeliac awareness raising challenge to coincide with National Coeliac Awareness Week (14th-20th May).

This is what I did:

  • Melted 90g unsalted butter over a low heat and left to bubble gently. Checking every now and again, left it until the solids had sunk to the bottom and turned a light brown. Immediately took off the heat as I didn’t want the butter to burn. Left to cool.
  • Whisked 3 duck eggs whites until frothy (not stiff).
  • Stirred in the cooled butter.
  • Sifted in 120g icing sugar, 45g buckwheat flour and 60g ground almonds.
  • Chopped 50g dark chocolate (85%) and stirred in as lightly as possible.
  • Spooned into 12 silicone mini muffin cases and divided the remainder between 6 larger ones.
  • Sprinkled the tops with slivered almonds.
  • Baked at 180C for 15 minutes and removed the mini friands. Baked the larger ones for a further 3 minutes (18 in total).
  • Placed on a rack to cool a bit, then turned out of the cases to cool completely.
  • Dusted with icing sugar.

The aroma of the nut like butter as it turned brown was delicious and filled the house with its fragrance. The mini friands were destined to go to friends, but CT and I got to try the larger ones. These were as good as I remembered the cinnamon choc chip ones to be, if not better. the buckwheat flour worked really well, although we couldn’t detect anything specific. The brown butter gave an added depth to the almonds bringing out the nutty flavour as well as adding a slight richness to the whole. The mellow sweetness of the friand combined well with the dark bitter chocolate and made for an excellent and varied taste experience.

Lemon and Apple Curd Cake Disaster

Easter, Large Cakes | 3rd May 2012 | By

With my first ever Clandestine Cake Club coming up, I wanted to have a practice run at baking the type of cake I was planning to take along. Fruit was the theme and Easter was the time (that I made this cake not the CCC one), so inspired by the cake on the cover of Issue 1 of Co-op Food magazine and with my new found passion for fruit curds, I wanted to make up my very own Easter curd cake. For this one I was going to use my apple and lemon curd. But, oh what a calamity!

This is what I did:

  • Creamed 225g unsalted butter with 225g cardamom sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Grated in the zest of a lemon.
  • Beat in two large tbsp of apple and lemon curd.
  • Beat in 1 goose egg.
  • Folded in 225 sifted flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white) with a heaped tsp of baking powder.
  • Stirred in 2 tbsp sour milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice.
  • Spooned mixture into two 21 cm cake moulds and baked at 180C for 25 minutes.
  • Left to cool for a few minutes then turned out onto wire racks.
At this point disaster struck. It’s not happened to me since I started using silicone moulds, but one of the cakes, not only stuck to the mould when I tried to turn it out, but fell apart too. I was devastated. I had so been look forward to something that was meant to look like this:

picture taken from Co-operative Food magazine issue 1

Instead, mine looked like this (or at least what was left of it after I’d tucked in).

I can’t tell you how good the bits of broken cake were though, they tasted absolutely scrummy – especially when eaten warm. When the cake fell apart on me, I tried one piece and then another and then another – it was soooooo good. Deliciously moist it had a good dense consistency (not dense enough, obviously). It was hard to pick out a specific flavour, lemon was present, but not overly so. In any case it was delicious.

  • Whilst the cakes were in the oven, I was making the filling – which actually became the topping!
  • Melted 75g white chocolate in a bowl over hot water.
  • Spooned some of this (slightly less than half) into the little chick moulds from Baked & Delicious and placed in the fridge to set.
  • Creamed 75g unsalted butter with 125g icing sugar until very pale.
  • Beat in the remaining chocolate.
  • Beat in 2 tbsp apple and lemon curd and a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice.
  • Spread this over the cake that remained intact.
  • Decorated with lemon jelly sweets, white chocolate chicks and a few flowers from the garden.
  • I was going to make a lemon icing to go over the top of the cake, but that obviously didn’t happen.

Despite, the errr, mishap, this was a truly delicious cake and it didn’t deter me from making this with my latest curd recipe (yet to be revealed) for CCC. As the curd is made with lemons I am submitting this to the One ingredient challenge hosted by Laura of How to Cook Good Food who has chosen lemons this month. It’s alternately hosted by Working London Mummy where you can see the rules.