May in many places around the world means it's Mother's Day. What will you be doing for your mum? Will you be passing an afternoon or evening with your special lady? Lucky you.
I made these chocolate almond and cherry mini bundt cakes thinking of my mum who is far away in Sydney. I know she would love them, and I know your mum will love them too. Even if they don't end up coming out perfect, she will still love them. So make her feel special, do it for me.
The recipe is an adaptation of Ottolenghi and Goh's Flourless Chocolate 'teacakes' from their book Sweet. They are gluten free as well, if that is important to you. I added cherries to the original recipe and reduced some of the liquid content to cater for the juices of the fruit.
Light and delicate, they are truly delightful little treats, and chocolate and cherry is always a winning combo.
Thinking of Mother's Day...when I was little, it was Parent's Day on the 8th of May in Korea. At school our teachers used to make us hand write letters to our parents to post in the mail (real mail, yeh, with stamps!). Tradition also called for pinning carnation flowers on their shirt lapels - which as a kid I never really understood why we had to bother with these things.
I remember one year specifically, out of fear of not being a good enough writer and to save my ass from embarrassment, I waited by my window watching out for the postman and snatched my own letter from him addressed to my mum.
I also remember that year, of my mum being really upset for being the only mum in the hood who didn't receive a letter from her daughter. And, how seeing her like that made me feel so sad. I still have not spoken to her about that incident. Maybe tomorrow I will call her and see if she remembers.
Growing up in Australia, things changed. No red carnations, forced hand written letters posted against my own petty will. But mum soon discovered her love of Thai food, and every excuse was made to go to eat out at the local Thai restaurant. And so we did, whenever we could.
If Sydney wasn't a 21 hour-flight from Milan, I would be with her this weekend, to go to find the newest and hottest Thai restaurant in town.
Hey, so if you are lucky enough to be close to your mum, do me a favour and show them twice the love this year. Flowers, chocolates, a nice lunch, dinner, a weekend away - or make these little teacakes.
Just a few notes on the recipe to help you along the way - I was super excited about a new silicon mini bundt pan so I used it along with the usual muffin tin for this. Note that the bundts in my photo are darker than the smooth muffin shape because I lined the bundt tin with butter AND cacao. I later found it was totally unnecessary and that even without the cacao the cakes popped out easily from the silicon pan. So, just remember to line your tins with butter, that's all it's going to need.
Another point is to remember to carefully fold in your whipped egg whites with the rest of the batter - you want to keep as much of the volume as possible since these cakes get their rise from the air in the whipped egg whites, and do not contain any baking powder or other leavening agent.
If you are not confident or keen on adding icing - no worries, be cool, just skip it all. The cakes are super delicious even without the icing, and since they are so delicate it can be a bit fiddly to add the icing. In this case, a dusting of icing sugar through a sieve should be more than enough. You want to show your mum you love her, not that you are the cake-meister.
So you have the perfect excuse to bake up something delicious this weekend. And of course, DO let me know when you do, you know how to find me. 😃
CHOCOLATE ALMOND CHERRY MINI TEACAKES
Loosely adapted from Yottam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh's Sweet
Makes approximately 12 cakes in regular muffin tin
200 g fresh cherries, pitted, halved
few tablespoons of cocoa powder
80 g unsalted butter, cubed
100 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
80 g caster sugar (Italian: Zefiro finissimo)
1/4 tsp almond extract
80 g ground almonds (Italian: farina di mandorla)
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated (Italian: medium eggs)
pinch of salt
100 g icing sugar, sifted if lumpy (Italian: zucchero al velo)
3-4 tbs juice from squeezed fresh cherries or syrup from Amarena Fabbri
1. Place the cherries in a small bowl with the cocoa to coat. This will take away some of the liquid which makes the cakes bake more evenly. Set aside.
2. Place the butter and chocolate together in a medium heatproof bowl, and melt in a double boiler over a pot with a few centimetres of simmering water, stirring constantly. When it has melted entirely, take off heat and add half the sugar, almond extract, ground almonds and egg yolks. Stir to combine and set aside.
3. In a clean, medium bowl, whisk the egg whites with electric beaters at high speed for 1 minute until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar slowly whilst beating, for another 3-4 minutes until glossy and light.
4. Take about a third of the whisked egg white and stir it into the chocolate almond batter. Then, working in a couple of batches, incorporate the egg white using the folding technique to not lose too much of the volume you have worked hard to get into the egg whites. Set aside this final batter for about an hour - this helps the almonds to absorb the moisture and gives the cakes the light texture.
5. When ready to bake, set oven to 180C/160C fan. Line the cavities of a 12 hole muffin pan (or a mini bundt pan, or a mix of the two types) with butter.
6. Spoon the batter into the holes, up to just 3/4 full. Push 3-4 cherry halves into each cake, so that they are barely covered by the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs. Take them out and leave them in their tins for 10 minutes before shaking them out and onto a wire rack to cool.
THE ICING (or skip entirely and just sprinkle with icing sugar)
Place the icing sugar in a medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the liquid of choice and stir or whisk. Continue adding half a tablespoon or so at a time to reach desired consistency - it should be gooey and when you stir it through with a spoon it should leave tracks behind that remain for a few seconds. Too runny - the icing will just slide down the cakes, but as they dry it will leave a glossy shine behind so that's not so bad either. 😬
ICE THE CAKES!
Use a small teaspoon for this one - you want to get a blob (for muffin cake)/thick ribbon (for bundt) on top and gently nudge the icing over the edges, they will drip down on their own.
Un-iced cakes will last about 3 days in an airtight container, but if they are frosted you should eat them on the same day. These without the icing also freeze well.