Apricot, Ginger & Butter...those are the three ingredients we were given for this month's Royal Foodie Joust (sponsored by the Left-Over Queen). I thought about it for awhile & knocked around a few ideas. The problem was most of them were spotlighting the apricot & ginger while not doing much to showcase the butter. Then I remembered the Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake I had made back in April. I'd been wanting to try it again with almonds...hmmmm, wouldn't it be good as a layer cake with a filling...oh, then top that off with chocolate...I knew what I was submitting for my entry.
This cake smells amazing as you are baking it with all the nutty aromas of the toasted almonds & brown butter. There is a little denseness to it but not as much as you would think thanks to the egg whites. The apricot adds a nice sweetness & the ginger a little spiciness. The chocolate just really makes the whole thing decedent. It tastes amazing & I could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting.
I do mostly small batch baking so this makes a two layer cake that is 4.5-inches across, perfectly sized for 4 servings. I found my 4.5-inch cake pans at Cost Plus World Market. If you would like to make a bigger cake doubling this recipe will make one layer in a 10-inch cake pan.
Almond Brown Butter Cake
adapted from Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake in Sunday Suppers at Lucques & on Smitten Kitchen
2.5 oz sliver almonds
1/4 lb unsalted butter (1 stick) plus a little extra melted for greasing the pan
1/4 vanilla bean
1/2 c + 2 1/2 T powdered sugar
2 1/2 T all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 T granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
In a small pan over medium-high heat toast the almonds until they’re golden brown. Keep an eye on them & stir them from time to time as these will go from golden to black really quickly. Let them cool.
Cut out two circles of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of two 4.5-inch round cake pans. Brush the pans with a little melted butter and line the bottoms with the paper.
Place the stick of butter in a medium saucepan or small skillet over medium heat. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center, and using a paring knife, scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. Add the vanilla pod to the pan, and cook until the butter browns, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir while cooking to remove the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Keep your eye on this as well as it can burn easily.
Grind the almonds with the confectioners sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the flour and pulse until just combined.
With a mixer beat the egg whites & sugar until very stiff peaks form, about 4 to 5 minutes. Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites about a third of a time.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pans, invert the cakes and peel off the paper. Trim cakes with a knife if they are not flat.
Apricot Ginger Filling
1/4 c good apricot jam
1 t ground ginger
Mix jam & ginger together. Place one cake layer on a serving plate & spread filling on it. Set the other layer on top. Refrigerate for a few minutes to set.
from Joy of Cooking
1/4 c cream
2 1/3 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 t flavoring of choice (I flavored mine with coffee)
Bring cream to boil. Remove from heat & add chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate has melted. Add flavoring & whisk until smooth. Allow to cool to drizzling consistency. Spread over the top of the cake & allow to drip over the sides.
Ganache can be stored in the fridge for 1 week. Reheat in the microwave to reuse.
Decorate cake with slices of fresh apricot & crystallized ginger if you wish.
Cake can be served right away or placed in the fridge to allow the ganache to harden. Leftover cake (ha!) should be stored covered in the fridge.