Apricot And Lavender Brown Butter Tea Cakes

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Apricot Lavender Brown Butter Tea Cakes

It's always a bit of a gamble with apricots. Their intoxicating sweet floral fragrance. Their soft velvet skin. I'm tempted. They look good, smell good and alas they have little to make me swoon. I did get lucky last week when I picked some right off a friend's tree on the island and made these Apricot and Lavender Brown Butter Tea Cakes. They sent me right back to our garden in Provence. Right back to all the great memories of my brother Thierry.

One year ago I wrote this. Nine years have gone by since I have told him anything. I'd rather write about him. Peace finds its way into my soul a lot more as the years go by. Each time speaking a little louder about the good times. If I listen carefully, each year I remember another story. I usually end up gazing outside the window exclaiming "I can't believe you made me do that!" And I smile.

Baking With Lavender

Calm and quiet. That's how I plan to spend the day. A little bit like in the picture above. Life. I am in it with a good laugh and I am with it in a good cry. Today I know I am going to have both although the scale is tipping in favor of remembering good times.

One afternoon we were in the front yard, he made me believe that eating apricots before they were ripe was the best thing in the world. And I believed him. I climbed up the tree with my best friend Natalie and we sat, perched up there picking out the greenest apricots we could find. I bet you can imagine what happened next. Within a few hours we were both in bed with a stomach ache.

I know he felt as bad as I did that evening but years later I still laugh outloud everytime I see apricots. I did just that while I was picking them off the tree the other day. Sighing and smiling at the same time. Mostly smiling. I ate quite many right on the spot. They were fully ripe this time! I brought plenty home and decided to make us some financiers and a good cup of tea. Bill and I sat on the porch and he patiently listened to a couple more memories I wanted to share of Thierry.

Apricots

Financiers are essentially brown butter tea cakes (and vice versa) with the addition of ground nuts, flour, sugar and egg whites. I wanted to share some with the friend with the apricot tree as a thank you for an afternoon well spent and since she is celiac, I replaced the cake flour with rice flour to make them gluten free and added some sliced apricots on top before baking. I added some lavender to infuse the brown butter with for the simple reason that apricot reminds me of home, Provence, and lavender fields.

I ended up making three batches of those the same evening. One for us right then (gourmands!), one for her and one more for us and the neighbors later. The soft smell of lavender, the nuttiness coming from the brown butter....It was enough to make us stare at the oven, impatient for the batch to be ready! Biting into the ripe slighly baked apricots was the ultimate reward. Bliss. Calm and quiet.

Apricot Lavender Brown Butter Tea Cakes


Apricot and Lavender Brown Butter Tea Cakes
Makes 12

1 stick (115g) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon edible lavender
1 cup (100gr) unsifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup (60gr) ground almonds
1/4 cup (30gr) rice flour
pinch of salt
4 large egg whites
6 apricots, halved and thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to 375F and position a rack in the center. Lightly the inside of 12 financiers molds or muffin tins with cooking spray and place them on a baking sheet. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, melt the butter until it turns to a rich hazelnut brown color. Remove from the heat, add the lavender and let it cool for 5 minutes. Strain and reserve.
Mix together the powdered sugar, flour, ground almonds and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the egg whites and mix on low speed until all the ingredients are coming together. Add the brown butter, increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth.
Divide the batter among your molds, add apricot slices on top and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, if you can, before eating.

65 comments:

Gala said...

The combination of apricot, lavender and brown butter sounds amazing.
I'm sure they were perfect with tea.

Love the new look of your site by the way.

Zita said...

Great how little things could bring back sweet memories :)

Botacook said...

C'est une bien belle histoire (même si elle est un peu triste, dans le fond), et c'est une bien belle recette très inspirée de la France. Avec cette notion de partage à double-sens (les abricots pour toi, les financiers pour tes amis), je lui trouve une valeur encore plus grande. Comme quoi, la convivialité tient une part très importante dans l'alimentation!
Je voulais encore te dire (car ça fait toujours plaisir ;) que j'aime énormément ton blog, les textes, les photos, les recettes, ton univers. Ça va toujours mieux après t'avoir rendu visite... :) J'ai hâte de pouvoir commander ton livre!
A bientôt!

morgana said...

Delicious financier and delicious post too.

kentaizat said...

hope that your brother rest in peace.
=D

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work as always!

Kim said...

Enjoying tea and apricot financiers sitting on your porch while sharing stories of your brother sounds like a lovely way to remember him. My brother would have just had his 53rd birthday last week if he were still here. He also was a trickster and often the instigator of pranks- a good many towards me.
Never realized that apricots grew in Charleston.

CKA said...

They look divine. I especially like the fact that there's lavender in there.

Vera said...

Apricot and Lavander,very nice combinacion!

Dodie @AshevilleTravel said...

A sweet tribute...those tea cakes are lovely, quiet 'i love yous.' Have a peaceful day.

Anne-Cecile said...

These look delicious. I'll have to try the recipe :) thank you!

Laura said...

I love reading the stories of your brother. I can't even imagine the pain this loss has brought. It is wonderful that you are celebrating his life with stories like this.

I love financiers, and the rice flour makes them perfect for some friends who can't eat gluten. Thanks!

I just read sweet amandine's story, it gave me goosebumps. I am glad she is recovering well. I can't wait to see her back.

♥peachkins♥ said...

Those tea cakes looks yummy! love them!

Char said...

apricots are one of those things that I love the smell and even the texture of holding them, but I only like to eat them dried. odd

there are times (and things) that make me think of my brother. he's been gone a while, but I always remember him.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

These look really yummy!

Bea said...

Très belle histoire et une recette bien délicieuse :) J'adore le mélange abricot-lavande et ta recette me donne envie de l'essayer au plus vite.
Et j'adore le nouveau 'look' du blog!

A bientôt :)

Living and Loving In L.A. said...

Those look INCREDIBLE! I can't wait to try them, and your photography is always astounding! Hope you have a lovely, and peaceful rest of your day...

montague said...

these look totally amazing! i want to bake with apricots... NOW.

Irina@PastryPal said...

Lovely story with a lovely tea cake. Interesting, the rice flour. They look quite good in the photo. How did the rice flour switch affect the outcome?

And your new blog design is a winner.

Junglefrog said...

I hope you keep remembering more of the good times and not so much of the sad times.. Love the apricot cakes!

Brian said...

It's great to see a gluten free, Celiac friendly post. Thanks for sharing.

Thorsten said...

The combination of flavors is wonderful with apricots, lavender and hazelnut butter. Sure, these cakes bringing back memories.

Shauna said...

Oh my dear, these are so beautiful! Almost as beautiful as your words and calm spirit.

thank you! We'll be making these within the week.

Jen Yu said...

What can I tell you that I have not said before? You and I share a lot with one another and sadly, we share the loss of a dear sibling too. This is a lovely remembrance of Thierry and I hope you continue to heal, my friend. August is bittersweet, but you make it more sweet than bitter. xxoo

Garrett said...

I am always so weary of lavendar in my food. It can quickly become too soapy and reminiscent of stale shawls forgotten in your nana's dresser drawers. Still, to pair it with apricots! Well, I may just have to try that. ;)

matt said...

first off, fantastic redesign, love the new look. Fantastic recipe, love that it is gluten free. The lavender is a great touch.

LOVE Provence.

TheKitchenWitch said...

Thinking of you and your brother today. I hope you find a little corner of peace...tea and cake (and Bill) certainly might take the edge off.

Justin said...

i love the way those cakes look... so pretty

MollyCookie said...

These look beautiful and delicious. Perfect for accompanying tea. Thanks for the recipe!

Irene said...

I love the new design, Helen! It's subtle, but very interesting to the eye, and very lovely! The tea cakes look oh so delicious, too!

ABowlOfMush said...

These look really beautiful!
So elegant!

TheKitchenWitch said...

Forgot to add: that photo is true art! I just figure you always already know that, so I don't say it, but I should.

lisa (dandysugar) said...

Apricot and lavender is a sensational combination- and with the browned butter, how delicious.

The site makeover looks great. Am enjoying your lovely sweet stories too.

Ash said...

I love this combination!
And I'm lovin' the new layout! Simply Beautiful!

Julia @ Mélanger said...

Helen, just lovely little treats. The combination of flavours - apricot, lavender and brown butter - sound just delicious. You always have such beautiful desserts.

maybelles mom said...

i love when you write about your brother. it is nice that he can be here through you and your blog.

veron said...

Ha..ha...your brother is like mine, tricking me about something. Well this are lovely financiers...one of my favorites to have with tea. I guess that's why they're called financiers.

danamccauley said...

Not that it will surprise anyone, but you are totally on trend with this post!

Brown butter in sweets is so very 'in':

http://danamccauley.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/topline-trends-tuesday-brown-butter/

Zen Chef said...

I wish i could give you a big hug. And if hugs could have a flavor, it would be a lavender/apricot hug.

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Beautiful, calm and quite. Your posts are therapeutic and comforting helen. A feeling of home. LOL...the green apricots & stomach aches remind me of my childhood days where we paid no heed to caution!

Alexandra said...

Your Heart is strong as it is big...you are the epitome of strength and Love!

REread said...

lovely post and beautiful photos

Anh said...

Love the new site, Helen! And those cakes are so wonderful. I love the shot of the lavender as well.

Aran said...

they are one of the easiest gluten free sweets to make right and so full of flavor!

Fuji Mama said...

Wow, it's amazing how fast a year goes. Another sweet post and beautiful tribute to your brother. What a fun image of you eating green apricots! Wish I could reach out and give you a hug, so just imagine me giving you a big squeeze.

isa said...

J'aime beaucoup le mélange abricot-lavande! Et j'adore le nouveau look de ton site!

Lori said...

I am in love with apricots this year. These cakes look beautiful.

I wish I had the perfect thing to say. You have a wonderful way of making life and pastry beautiful. You honor your brother in such a beautiful way.

wasabi prime said...

These photos are amazing. Thank you for sharing both your recipes, your photos, and your heart.

redmenace said...

Speechless. So lovely!

Engineer Baker said...

There are a few posts, when I read them, that just make my heart squeeze tight. This is one of them. I don't know if that description makes sense, but it's how I felt when I read this. My heart, squeezing tight like a rubber band. Love and these little cakes are wonderful things.

La Tartine Gourmande said...

Oh yes, that feeling of eating fruit pas mûr and have a stomachache. Rings a bell!

It's a nice quiet way to remember someone who will always be there with you, no matter what.

køkken69 said...

Helen, your little cakes look absolutely fabulous and I am sure they taste heavenly as well. Love your large format photos. Did you deliberately take them in larger format? The typical Blogger editorial page will not allow for such large format...

Christy said...

Ehem. I've been very tardy in saying my congratulations of late, so I hope you'll forgive me. I love the new look of your blog!! it's much more you, I feel---if that makes sense. And your photographs look much better in the new layout too!!

I love the look of those financiers!! They look like mini tarts---so fancy!!

Linda said...

What a lovely post Helen! Thank you for sharing such sweet stories about your brother.

ChichaJo said...

I'm glad you are remembering more and more good memories of your brother...next year there will be more still. These tea cakes, with a nice cup of tea, and some calm and quiet seems like a good way to spend the day. Warm hug to you...

I'd like to also say, I love your new blog design...it is lovely just like you :)

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Great job....only today was looking for fresh lavender...to make a drink! Oh well, months ago when they fresh, I just smiled and smelt them, admiring the vibrant colour. There's always next year by God's grace!

Hilda said...

That is exactly the kind of prank my sister used to pull on me, except the one I remember best is of her convincing me that the gold coins were more valuable than the silver ones when we were little and getting me to trade my silver ones for her gold ones. I am definitely going to make these since you made with rice flour as we have an excess of that in the house right now. It's a lovely combination. I hope the memories just get better and better.

Tartelette said...

Irina: rice flour did not change the outcome and I am guessing because of the almonds acting as a backbone for the flour there. Worked really well.

kokken69: I take large format pictures (larger than these actually) that I resize in post processing. I upload mine directly from Flickr where I get the html code for each picture. Hope that helps!

Fifi Flowers said...

Those look yummy! You have a new look to your blog site... looks great... I love your treats and you blog!!!

pigpigscorner said...

They are beautiful! Great flavour combo!

Amy J said...

Beautiful. Is rice flour a good substitute for baking anything gluten free?

angela@spinachtiger said...

As always so beautiful and charming and this is one I think I can do. I have the lavender and rice flour.

pastry studio said...

Absolute heaven! These have to be the most gorgeous financiers I've ever seen. I adore apricots and everything about this recipe. I must try these very soon. They look perfect. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I just made these - absolutely and entirely divine. I'm floored - I will be making these again.

Thank you for sharing this recipe. And thank you for sharing your memories of your brother.

me said...

Delicious! I made these with some modifications ~ I had no apricots, lavender or rice flour on hand. So I used blueberries and cake flour instead. Crispy and deep golden on the outside, moist and delicate on the inside.

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