In anticipation of birthday weekend, I baked. Of course I did. I made brownies and caramels. And something new. I found this recipe from a collection of gluten free recipes on Food & Wine. Then I went to the liquor store to find “elderflower liqueur” which is fancy speak for “goodness gracious that’s expensive and who spends forty dollars on a bottle of perfume booze to use in an untested and maybe gross recipe?” So I wavered. Fun fact: wavering in a liquor store where there’s one employee, one line, and ten people in it makes you a jerk. I ended up buying lemongrass-lime vodka from Indio instead. I felt better about my purchase, but let’s be honest. I still spent twenty dollars on booze for a recipe.
Oh my stars, what a recipe. Since I can’t ever be bothered to buy the right thing, I bought solo almond filling instead of almond paste. It was liquidy, so I added about a half a cup of almond flour to the filling. And substituted lemongrass for elderflower.
I’ve made a lot of baked goods in my day, and these were absolutely in my personal top three of any baked goods ever. And that includes back when my baked goods included flour. They’re not for everyone. My sister, for example, doesn’t like almonds, or lime. I told her not to try these.
Here’s the recipe, with my modifications:
Recipe: Almond, Elderflower and Lime Travel Cakes
- 10 ounces almond paste, broken into 1-inch pieces (1 cup) or the can of almond filling plus 1/2 c. almond flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon St-Germain or other elderflower liqueur or whatever you have on hand — I’m not sure booze is entirely necessary
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 1/2 tablespoons St-Germain or other elderflower liqueur again, not super necessary — how about some Indio lemongrass-lime vodka? It makes for a delicious cocktail if you use the leftover lime juice you’re about to squeeze!
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest, plus zest strips for decorating
- MAKE THE CAKES: Preheat the oven to 350° and line a muffin pan with paper cups. In a food processor, pulse the almond paste several times until broken into small pieces; don’t overprocess or the paste will become oily. Add the eggs and pulse until smooth. Add the cornstarch and salt and pulse until smooth. Add the butter and St-Germain and pulse until incorporated.
- Scrape the batter into a small pitcher (I used a 2 c. Pyrex) and pour it into the muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake for about 22 minutes, until the cakes are golden, puffed and firm to the touch. Transfer the pans to a rack and cool for 20 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the rack to cool completely. Or, leave them in their paper and leave them upright.
- MAKE THE ICING: In a bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar, cream, St-Germain and lime juice. Using a handheld mixer, beat at low speed until smooth. Beat in the 1/2 teaspoon of grated lime zest. Spoon the icing over the cakes, allowing it to drip down the sides. Garnish with lime zest before serving. Eat one while it’s warm. If you don’t like it, ship the rest to me!
Two nights ago, I made a tuna salad for dinner. The tuna was from my friend who’s dad caught and canned it himself. That was delicious, although it was the grossest looking thing in my pantry.
I ate my tuna, cucumber, and olive salad, right out of the serving bowl, while reading a cookbook. It occurred to me that I was a caricature of myself, and was starring in an episode of the most boring television show: Single Girl Eats. To finish off the meal, I ate chocolate chips out of a ramekin.
I knew I could do better. So last night, I took some veggie broth from a soup my mom gave me, added pureed pumpkin, and made a gorgeous bowl of soup. It was bright orange, it was spiced right, and I put it in a square bowl.
Stylin’. I was happy I’d gone to the effort of making beautiful food, even when no one else was around.
After I was finished, I froze the leftovers (because wasting food is exactly like throwing $5 bills in the trash and I’d like to avoid that) and started making a dessert. Not just any dessert, butterscotch pudding (would you look at that, I forgot both the butter and the scotch).
Last week, when I asked the boy I’m completely smitten with about his favorite dessert, he said, “that butterscotch pudding we had at Irving St. Kitchen” and I know from experience that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so making this pudding was at the top of my Thursday to-do list.
It was a labor of love, but six egg yolks and two saucepans later, I had three jars of pudding. Immediately, they went into the freezer, because I don’t know why, he’s coming on Saturday, you don’t need to freeze pudding from Thursday to Saturday you crazy person you, and a little leftover.
There wasn’t enough pudding left in the big saucepan for another serving, she typed, defensively, so I sat down at the dining room table with a saucepan, a big spoon, and a glass of red wine.
And that’s how my roommate found me. I looked up from my pan of pudding guiltily, but I didn’t stop. She said she didn’t judge me, because it smelled delicious.
Good thing I tried specifically to NOT cook like a pathetic single girl!