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.
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.
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 and Lavender Brown Butter Tea Cakes
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.