In this post, I shall share two dessert recipes that I recently employed in order to use up my stash of almond meal. I'm sure this isn't a commonly-occurring problem for most people, since no one goes out of their way buying almond meal in bulk, especially considering how expensive the stuff is. Unless you had plans on making macarons until you developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Too bad I fell out of love with macarons after I'd bought the 1kg bag of almond meal. Something to do with eating so many over a limited period of time that my teeth hurt, my throat smoked, and my sinuses seized up from the overwhelming sweetness. I need to learn moderation.
Orange and poppyseed frangipane tart
The first of the recipes - the orange and poppyseed frangipane tart - is an innovation of my very own. Why orange and poppyseed? Well, why not? :D Haha, actually, it was because I had a bag of poppyseed that also needed to be used up. The flavour combination is such a classic one that I was quite confident it would turn out well in this form. Like for my pound cake, I utilised orange extract instead of orange juice and zest. I would like to try this with the real stuff some day. Flavour extract notwithstanding, this tart turned out really well. As you can see from the photos, the top was crusty while the insides remained gooey and yielding. Kinda like a macaron, actually!
All the frangipane tarts I came across on the Internet included some sort of fruity component, whether it be pears poached in white wine, sliced and layered on top, or apple pieces spiced with cinnamon, and the whole thing resembling a postmodernist take on the humble apple pie. Since I was to be taking this to a dinner party the next day, I wanted a recipe that didn't consist of easily-perishable ingredients. Gourmet Traveller to the rescue! The magazine had an online recipe for a Galician almond tart which I used as a reference point for ingredient ratios. Had I substituted almond meal or some other kind of gluten-free flour for the shortcrust pastry dough, the whole tart would have been gluten-free.
The second recipe is one we're all familiar with: the Flourless Chocolate Cake. Again, a classic. You can't go wrong with classics. I also brought this along to the same dinner party, and the guests were absolutely enamoured with the cake. There were moans upon tasting. One taster commented: "This is the best chocolate cake I've ever eaten. Perfect balance of sweetness." No doubt this was largely due the use of my precious Callebaut bittersweet chocolate, with a 60% cocoa mass.
Flourless chocolate cake
There are literally thousands of recipes for flourless chocolate cakes, some using nut flours as a substitute for wheat flour, while others using only eggs for structural integrity. Since the whole point of this exercise (apart from getting chocolate cake out of it, of course) was to use up my almond meal, I went with the recipe from The Cake Mistress. And I am so glad I did, because this was the best chocolate cake I myself have ever tasted.
Fudgy, incredibly moist and so intensely chocolatey, I may very well never experiment with another flourless chocolate cake recipe.
Recipe for Orange and Poppyseed Frangipane tart
For the shortcrust pastry:
200g plain flour
75g white, granulated sugar
100g cold butter, coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons cold water
For the tart filling:
250g white, granulated sugar
250g almond meal
3 tablespoons poppyseeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons orange extract
To serve: icing sugar
1. To make the shortcrust pastry, combine flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture has the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg and 1-2 tablespoons of cold water and pulse until the pastry just comes together. Alternatively, if you don't have a food processor, you can combined everything by hand. Just put the flour, sugar and butter in a bowel and rub together with (clean) finger tips. Add the egg, and cold water if necessary, and rub some more. Don't knead the dough, otherwise the crust will turn out tough.
2. Press the pastry into a 25cm-diameter tart or flan tin, pushing the pastry up the edges. Don't worry about trimming overhanging dough at this point. Cover with cling wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. To make the filling, whisk eggs and sugar until pale and frothy (mixture reaching the 'ribbon stage'), and the mixture has doubled in volume. Fold in the almond meal, vanilla and orange extracts, and poppy seeds.
4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (or 350 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove pastry from fridge, and trim the edges. Prick the base all over with a fork, and spoon the almond mixture into the tart tin lined with the pastry. Smooth top. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden, crusty, and hard to touch. Remove from oven, cool tart in pan. Once tart is completely cool, remove from pan and serve dusted with icing sugar.
Recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from The Cake Mistress
200g good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
125g unsalted butter, chopped
225g brown sugar
100g almond meal
5 large eggs, separated
1 pinch of cream of tartar
To serve: 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (or 360 degrees Fahrenheit). Line the base and sides of a 20cm-diameter cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
2. Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in microwave by heating in 10-second bursts for the first two times, then 5-second bursts subsequently. Stir in between heating. Be careful not to burn the chocolate! Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and butter over a double-boiler. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Combine chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place that bowl over the saucepan of boiling water. Stir while ingredients melt.
3. Once butter and chocolate have completely melted, stir in the brown sugar and almond meal until the mixture is smooth. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then add the egg yolks one by one, stirring after each addition.
4. In a dry, clean bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat with a hand-held mixture until frothy, then gradually add the white, granulated sugar. Continue beating until firm peaks form.
5. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix well to make the chocolate mixture more liquid-y. Pour the chocolate mixture into the remaining two-thirds of the beaten egg whites, and fold together carefully with a rubber spatula, being careful not to deflate the mixture. Fold until the mixtures are just incorporated.
6. Pour into the lined cake tin, and bake for 45-50 minutes until a firm crusts forms on top. Remove from oven, and allow cake to cool in tin completely before removing. Once cake is completely cool, sift cocoa powder over the top.