Category Archives: almond

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

If you’ve ever seen fancy-looking Bostock in a bakery, you may be surprised to learn that it’s a snap to make as far as French pastry goes. The origin of the name is up for debate, but it’s sometimes also referred to as Brioche aux Amandes or “almond brioche.” All that is fine and good—almonds and brioche are enough of a selling point—but I was drawn to Bostock when I learned it’s not actually a pastry on its own, but instead a way to repurpose day-old bread. Yep, it’s the pastry equivalent of French toast! Bostock is nothing more than thick, day-old slices of brioche painted with simple syrup, topped with frangipane and sliced almonds (and sometimes seasonal fruit), and baked until golden.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

Permitting you are using store bought brioche, this recipe comes together very quickly. Simple syrup is made from equal volumes of sugar and water, and takes only five minutes to simmer. Frangipane, a sweet almond pastry cream made primarily of almond flour, sugar, butter and an egg, just needs two minutes in the blender. See? Quick and easy! Also, if you are more organized than I am, both elements can be made up to a week ahead—just make sure to let your frangipane come to room temperature before you try to spread it on the delicate brioche.

Assembly is easy as can be. Cut the stale brioche into 8 thick slices, then give each one a heavy brush of simple syrup and a luxurious smear of frangipane. Add some fresh fruit if you like, or don’t; I sliced up a nectarine for half my pastries. Sprinkle on some sliced almonds and bake your Bostock for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s puffed and browned a bit.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

One more wonderful thing about Bostock? You don’t have to let it cool completely! Definitely don’t eat it straight out of the oven, but go right ahead and enjoy it warm with a (admittedly heavy) dusting of confectioner’s sugar. It’s crispy and toasty at the edges, and the frangipane squidges against your teeth in the most satisfying way. Bostock is softer at room temperature, but still pretty dang stellar. I haven’t seen many people tell you to eat it cold, but I’ll admit that I like the leftovers straight from the fridge, too.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

Like its spiritual cousin French toast, Bostock is a genius way to repurpose leftovers into something much greater than the sum of its parts. While the classic recipe is made with brioche, you could give the Bostock treatment to a number of leftover carbs. Challah, stale croissants, and day-old waffles come to mind. You could also swap out the simple syrup for warmed jam—I’m absolutely going to try matching the flavor with my seasonal fruit topping next time! Saturday morning double cherry Bostock, anyone?!

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}
makes 8 servings

Simple Syrup:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water

Frangipane:
1 cup blanched almond flour or 4 ounces blanched almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold-ish room temperature, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For Assembly:
8 thick slices brioche, preferably a bit stale (mine were from 1 14oz loaf)
2 medium sliced nectarines or other seasonal fruit (optional)
2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Make the simple syrup. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Make the frangipane. In a food processor (or very good blender), pulse almond flour, all-purpose flour, salt and sugar together. Pulse in butter. Pour in egg and almond extract, and process until frangipane is a homogenous paste.

Place brioche slices in a single layer on the prepared pan. Brush each slice with simple syrup, making sure to use up all the syrup. Spread about 2 heaping tablespoons of frangipane over each slice of brioche, covering the entire top. Press in fruit, if using, then sprinkle on the sliced almonds.

Bake Bostock for 25-30 minutes, until the frangipane as begun to brown in places. Let cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before dusting with confectioner’s sugar and serving slightly warm or at room temperature.

Bostock is best the day it’s made, but may be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

Cherry Almond Tart

Cherry Almond Tart

Of all the wonderful things about cherry season—namely, that there are cherries everywhere and in everything—the lone drawback is that it’s quick. Cherries arrive in the produce section fast and furious, and then suddenly two months have passed and you’re googling pumpkin recipes again. Where does the time go?

Cherry Almond Tart

I have spent every summer of this blog’s brief existence trying to fill it with recipes highlighting every major warm weather fruit group. There are many (so, so many) berry recipes and a shocking number of peach desserts considering that I don’t care much for cooked stone fruit, but I’m happy if I nail down one cherry treat per year. Lucky for all of us, this year’s Cherry Almond Tart is a notch above the rest.

The secret? Frangipane aka almond pastry cream. It’s easy to make—it’s just a blend of almond flour (or whole blanched almonds), sugar, eggs and a few other baking staples—and is spread into a thin layer between rough puff pastry dough and a bevy of pitted whole cherries. As it bakes, this thin blanket of almond cream puffs up and nearly envelops the cherries, and gets a touch dark on top.

Cherry Almond Tart

The results are outstanding. Every bite is full of juicy, collapsed cherries, flaky pastry and a soft, thick layer of frangipane. I gilded the lily with some confectioner’s sugar and sliced almonds, but it truly needs no adornment. But, you know, ice cream is never a bad idea.

Cherry Almond Tart

Heads up that I’m on vacation this week! I’ll be taking Friday off to spend time with my family, but I have an epic ice cream recipe coming next Wednesday. Have a great week, y’all.

Cherry Almond Tart
Cherry Almond Tart
makes one tart, about 8-10 servings

Rough Puff Pastry*:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted European butter (I used Kerrygold)
1/4 cup water or milk of choice, very cold

Frangipane:
1 cup blanched almond flour or 4 ounces blanched almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold-ish room temperature, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the Cherries:
2 1/2 cups whole sweet cherries, stemmed & pitted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For Garnish:
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Note: If you’d like to use frozen (thawed) puff pastry instead of Rough Puff Pastry, start the recipe at the paragraph beginning “Make the tart.”

Make the Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8x10" rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8x10" rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10x14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Trim any excess overhang. Use your knife to score a rectangle on the dough, so that there is a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Dock the center rectangle of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate.

Make the frangipane. In a food processor (or very good blender), pulse almond flour, all-purpose flour, salt and sugar together. Pulse in butter. Pour in egg and almond extract, and process until frangipane is a homogenous paste.

Remove crust from the refrigerator. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread frangipane in a thin layer all over the docked rectangle. Evenly scatter the cherries over the top. Sprinkle with sugar, then dot with butter.

Make the egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl, then use a fork to whisk them together. Use a pastry brush (or a clean finger) to brush egg wash over exposed crust.

Bake tart for 28-30 minutes, until puffed and golden all over. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Remove to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the tart, then sift confectioner’s sugar over the top. Serve, garnished with sliced almonds, if desired.

Tart is best within 48 hours. Wrap leftovers and keep them in the refrigerator.
Cherry Almond Tart
Cherry Almond Tart
Cherry Almond Tart

Almond Poppy Seed Scones

Almond Poppy Seed SconesI know what you’re thinking. How many scone recipes does one baker need? The answer is simple: as many as they can conjure up! Can’t stop, won’t stop. Sorry, not sorry. I mean, do you see these???Almond Poppy Seed Scones

Almond Poppy Seed Scones are super tender and buttery, speckled with crispy poppy seeds, topped with a creamy almond glaze and finished off with a smattering of toasted sliced almonds. They’ve got tons of texture and flavor, but aren’t overly sweet or cloying. I think they’d be a perfect addition to any brunch or tea menu, though they’re so simple they can be thrown together on a Saturday morning without a second thought.Almond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed Scones

I’ve made scones with half-and-half and whole milk over the years, but heavy cream is my current go-to. If that sounds intense it’s because it is, but if you’ve tried my Maple Scones and Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini Scones, you know how cream can take things from good to luxurious. In addition to the cream, these scones are made with flour, a little sugar, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds, cold butter, vanilla & almond extracts, and an egg. The dough may feel a little thick when mixed and patted out, but will result in super rich, tender scones.

As with biscuits, pie dough, rough puff pastry and anything else that depends on cold butter for texture and structure, you’ll need to keep these babies cold cold cold so they don’t turn out flat and sad. I like to freeze my scones for 15 minutes after they’re sliced into wedges, then brush them with a little more cream before baking.Almond Poppy Seed Scones

When they emerge, they’ll be craggy and golden and pretty difficult not to tear into while they’re still warm. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but I will suggest holding off on eating until your scones have cooled. Not only will this save the roof of your mouth, but it will give you time to stir together a quick glaze and toast some sliced almonds. You know I love a glaze and a garnish.Almond Poppy Seed Scones

Almond Poppy Seed Scones have it all—the looks, the textures, the simplicity, those irresistible little poppy seeds! I made four batches trying to get them right and I’m still hoping for a moment this weekend to make some more. Like I said, I can never get enough scones.Almond Poppy Seed Scones

Almond Poppy Seed Scones
makes 8 scones

Scones:
3/4 cup heavy cream, very cold
1 large egg, cold from the fridge
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes

Glaze & Garnish:
2 1/2-3 tablespoons heavy cream (or 1 tablespoon whole milk)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Make the scones. Meanwhile, place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together heavy cream, egg, vanilla and almond extracts. Refrigerate.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt. Add cold butter. Use a pastry blender or clean fingertips to cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in heavy cream mixture until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 3/4-inch thick circle. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice circle into 8 wedges. Freeze sliced scones for 15 minutes.

Place scones at least 2 inches apart on prepared pan. Brush with more heavy cream. Bake 16-17 minutes, until puffed and golden at the edges. Let scones cool on the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, or until they can be handled.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together cream (or milk), vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar and salt. If the mixture is too thick, add more cream (or milk) by the teaspoon. Drizzle over scones and finish with toasted sliced almonds.

Scones may be served warm or at room temperature. They are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.Almond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed Scones

Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}

Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Everyday Cakes are probably my favorite desserts to make and eat. I’m sure I’ve said that about at least one other category of dessert, but I promise it’s true.

Like their name implies, these are cakes that can be made any ol’ day with limited fuss. Theyre single layer, have short ingredient lists and can almost always be adapted to work with whatever you have on hand. They’re the sort of thing you can bake on the fly when you need to let out some stress after work, or want to make a cake on a Saturday afternoon but don’t want to deal with frosting and layering. Even better, they’re the kind of super-classy-but-still-low-maintenance dinner party dessert that will make you look like Ina Garten (hydrangeas optional, but recommended). Their versatility simply cannot be matched.

It will come as no surprise that I have tons of Everyday Cakes in my archives—too many for one post—so this is my spring Everyday Cake round-up. Five cakes that are far more than the sum of their parts. Try out one or two before summer’s here and it’s too hot to bake!Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

My friend, David, introduced me to this Dutch dessert a few years ago and it’s quickly become one of my favorite cakes of all time. With plenty of butter, bits of ginger strewn throughout and a signature golden lid, it might just become your favorite too!

Ginger not your thing? Feel free to leave it out, or make my almond variation.Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Flourless Almond Cake

The nectarines in this picture won’t be in season for a few more months, but don’t let that stop you from making this dreamy Flourless Almond Cake! It’s perfect for eating with your fingers as a mid-afternoon snack, but it can also be dressed up with berries or chocolate or whatever for post-vaccine get-togethers.Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Blueberry Torte

A torte is just a low maintenance cake by another name. This one is super easy to make, tender and buttery and chockablock with fresh blueberries.Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Mango Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple is the reigning queen of upside-down cakes, but I’d like to make a petition for this mango number to be a princess or a duchess or something. The combination of brown sugar cake and fresh mango baked in caramel is absolutely divine.Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Winning Hearts & Minds Cake

Everyone needs a good flourless chocolate cake recipe in their back pocket. This one is the slightest take on Molly Wizenberg-Choi’s gem of a recipe. I’ve made it approximately a thousand times—I’ve got the recipe memorized—and am still not over the crackly top and dense chocolaty middle. Consider my heart and mind won.

Have you made these or any of my other everyday cakes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

White Almond Petit Fours

White Almond Petit FoursI’ve made petit fours for a couple of Easters over the last few years, and I think I might finally be getting the hang of them. These tiny, poured fondant-glazed cakes are a childhood favorite of mine, but past attempts to make them have driven me to dark places. When I tested the carrot cake version I had to take a day off of work to recover! It’s taken me two years to give petit fours another go, and while I expected some agony, these White Almond beauties were surprisingly fun and simple to make.

Don’t get me wrong—these are still a labor of love, but they weren’t backbreaking, day-ruining work this time, and I think I know why. I took my time, y’all. I didn’t rush a thing. Every step in this process was done when I had the time and energy. While you can certainly make these over the course of a single day, the batch pictured was assembled over four days with lots of down time. It was leisurely and practically luxurious as far as petit fours go.White Almond Petit FoursLet me lay it out for you. On Monday, I made the cake—a sprinkle-free, rectangular version of this white bundt recipe—and then refrigerated it. Tuesday is my long day every week, so nothing happened petit four-wise.

On Wednesday, I trimmed the cake, painted on an almond simple syrup, and adhered a thin sheet of marzipan to the top. Then I popped the whole thing back into the fridge.White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit FoursThe next day (Thursday), I trimmed the edges and cut the cake into 1 1/2-inch squares. Since marzipan is moldable, I scored my squares before slicing—it made the whole process super simple.

Next up, I made the poured fondant coating, which is really just melting a whole bunch of things together. Usually coating is my least favorite part of this process, but these weren’t much trouble. I think using cold, dense-crumbed bundt cake was the secret to my success here—it held together so well that I was able to coat these squares by dipping instead of fiddling with squeeze bottles.White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit FoursMy process went something like this. I stuck a fork in the bottom of a petit four and dipped it in the warm fondant, quickly moving the bowl around to cover the sides. Then I used another fork to help ease the petit four onto a rack to set before moving onto the next.* I had a few casualties, but the solution was to slightly reheat the fondant and keep going. Make no mistake, this was still a tedious process, but it’s nothing compared to the squeeze bottle nightmares of petit fours past! Are there a few crumbs on these little cakes? Sure! But perfection is the enemy of joy here. Also, toasted almond flowers are quite handy for hiding flaws. Aren’t they pretty? I’m obsessed.

*Here’s a video from another baker whose process is similar to my own.White Almond Petit FoursAs far as flavor goes, White Almond Petit Fours are sweet almond through and through! If you love marzipan, these are for you. The cake is dense and moist, the marzipan somehow both melts and remains distinct, and the fondant is almost too much…but it’s also not enough. I always need a second petit four.White Almond Petit FoursThe petit fours of my childhood were super-sweet so I love the intensity here, but if you need some sharpness to cut through all the almond, you could soak the cake in a lemon syrup, or torte and fill it with a layer of raspberry jam or lemon curd. For me though, it’s all about that moist sweet almond cake, especially when enjoyed cold from the fridge at midnight on Easter Day. Or any day, really. I’m not picky.White Almond Petit Fours

White Almond Petit Fours
makes about 35 1 1/2-inch petit fours

Cake:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

Syrup:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Marzipan:
12 ounces prepared marzipan (not almond paste)

Poured Fondant:
2/3 cup hot tap water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces white chocolate chips
2 pounds (7 1/2 cups) confectioners sugar

Garnish:
sliced almonds
~3 tablespoons poured fondant

This recipe is long and requires many steps and chills. Please read through carefully before beginning.

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan and line with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, egg whites, vanilla, almond extract, sour cream and milk in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Use a thin, flexible knife to release cake, and then remove to a rack. Allow to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Remove cake from the refrigerator, unwrap and place on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to trim the top so that it’s even and the crumb is exposed. Discard (eat!) the scraps.

Make the syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Paint syrup all over the top of the cake. It will seem like too much, but it’s not.

Roll out the marzipan. Dust a surface and rolling pin with flour or confectioner’s sugar. Use your hands to form marzipan into a rectangle shape and place it on the surface. Use the rolling pin to roll marzipan into an 8×12-inch rectangle, lifting and turning it occasionally so it doesn’t stick to your surface.

Lay marzipan over the top of the cake so that the crumb is no longer exposed. Use rolling pin to roll over it lightly a few times to adhere. Wrap assembled cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 2 hours or up to a day.

Remove cake from the refrigerator to a large cutting board. Use a serrated knife to trim off crispy cake edges (about 1/4-inch on all sides). Slice cake into 1 1/2-inch squares. Freeze for 30 minutes while you prepare the poured fondant.

On a surface, place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment.

Make poured fondant. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together hot water, light corn syrup, and vanilla.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

Place white chocolate chips in the heatproof bowl. When water simmers, place bowl back over the water. Whisk until melted. Alternate adding confectioners sugar and liquid ingredients, whisking constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes (it works best around 100F).

Working quickly, stab a fork into the bottom of on petit four. Gently lower it into the fondant and manipulate the bowl so that the sides get some coverage. Use another fork or an offset icing spatula to remove the petit four off the fork and onto the prepared cooling rack. Re-warm fondant as needed by placing it back over the double boiler for a few minutes. Here is a video for clarity.

This process may also be done by filling a squeeze bottle with fondant and using it to cover the the top and sides of each square. Use an offset icing knife to adjust sides as necessary. This may be done with a spoon as well, although a squeeze bottle is simpler.

Let poured fondant set for about an hour. Reserve any excess fondant for decorating.

To decorate, toast almonds in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely. When petit fours have set, warm excess fondant slightly and load into a piping bag. Snip off a small corner and dot about a dime-size blob on top off one petit four, then immediately arrange five almond slices as a flower. Continue with remaining petit fours. Let set for another 20 minutes before serving.

Petit course may be served at room temperature or cold. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.

White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit Fours