Fruit-Filled Friands with Herb Sugar and Endless Summer Possibilities
I’m loving summer. I’m ignoring the lack of sunshine and embracing the season. Because it still has so much to offer. Yes, it’s a bit cloudy, but the days are warmer and longer, people are getting outside more, grilling, drinking and just lazing about. That vibe is still there. That whole loving life thing. Enjoying the simple pleasures. Like devouring a bowl of fresh strawberries, sipping a cold cocktail on the patio, reading in a happy beam of rare sunlight.
On Thursday I walked over to one of our local farmers markets after work and, though the day was overcast and less than ideal, an overwhelming joy took hold of me as I joined the crowd of Seattle-ites perusing the stalls of fresh vegetables, the families grabbing a bite to eat al fresco, the couples walking their dogs and chatting with their neighbors. It was perfect. My black bean tamale, pile of grilled vegetables and spicy-cold ginger beer, gobbled up on a grassy knoll, were all perfect. The bright red stalks of rhubarb were perfect. I bought some and wandered back home, drunk on summer feelin’.
Oh glorious summer fruit– I can’t get enough of it! And the season has only just begun. I have months more of summer’s bounty to look forward to. Which means many more variations on these Fruit-Filled Friands. If you’ve never heard of these tiny cakes, they’re little almondy treats, baked in any sort of small mold, perfect for serving with tea (or iced tea!). I took that rhubarb I brought home from the market and cooked it down into a vibrant compote. I dolloped it in the middle of the friand batter. I whirled some sugar and fresh mint together, sprinkled it on top. Baked them. Ate several while still hot and burnt my tongue (worth it).
Rhubarb is under-appreciated, in my opinion. It tends to just get thrown in with some strawberries to take the back-up role, rather than being given the full spotlight. Rhubarb is worthy in its own right. Tart, bright and so fresh, beautifully accented by lemon and verdant mint in these Rhubarb Friands with Mint Sugar. Absolutely delicious. Equally delicious was my second version: Peach Friands with Basil Sugar. These peaches may have come from California and not my local farmers market (the season comes later here), but my mouth didn’t mind. Sweet, juicy, scrumptious. You can do so many combinations of fruit and herbs with these. Strawberry and tarragon. Blackberry and thyme. No matter what, I guarantee the entire plate of them will be eaten in minutes.
Below is the recipe for the Rhubarb Friands, but you can simply substitute whatever fruits and herbs you picked up at the market (or your garden, if you’re so lucky!). The only thing that may need adjusting is the sugar in your compote. I did 1/4 cup for the rhubarb since it has less natural sugars, but for the peach compote I reduced that amount to 2 tablespoons. Start there and add more to taste as needed. Also, I am very aware that this recipe makes more compote than you’ll use in the friands. I didn’t adjust the recipe because I already have infinite ideas for what to do with that leftover compote in the fridge…dollop it on yogurt, pancakes, shortcakes with some freshly whipped cream, toast… or just spoon it into your mouth. It won’t get wasted.
Rhubarb-Filled Friands with Mint Sugar
© Copyright 2011 Carly Sullivan, Tart to Heart
Yield: 12-16 friands
- 1 lb fresh rhubarb, chopped (or other fresh fruit)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Handful fresh mint leaves
- To make the compote, stir together the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Add the rhubarb, water, lemon zest and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the rhubarb is tender and the sauce has thickened. Remove to a bowl and refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease your pan– you can use a tartlet pan like I did or a muffin tin (standard or mini size), or any other small molds you may have (Popover pan? Mini cheesecake pan? Tiny loaf pans? Anything goes, you just want them bite-sized).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, powdered sugar and salt. Add the egg whites, melted butter, vanilla and almond extracts, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir until the mixture is smooth.
- Scoop the batter into your prepared tins to about 3/4 full. Use a spoon to make a small indent in the center of the batter, then dollop the cooled compote into the center.
- To make the mint sugar, simply blend the ingredients in a food processor until finely ground. Sprinkle on the tops or edges of the friands before baking.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed and lightly golden on the edges. Remove immediately and let cool (or not). Set on a platter at your next summer BBQ or picnic and watch them disappear. It’s magic! Enjoy!