I always expect desserts to be not only indulging, but also elegant. Desserts come last and should crown the feast. But every single dish, before we even taste it, appeals to us first by its looks. That is also how we choose certain recipes and that is the reason why cookbooks with pictures sell better than those without them. I always pay a lot of attention to the presentation of food I serve, especially when I have guests over. A simple salad nicely arranged on a plate can be forgiven for its simplicity, if the presentation is attractive. It also shows that someone cared, made an effort, and put an extra touch, which is what counts most. A nicely presented dish can also spark an interesting conversation.
Today, I made an elegant dessert with the very sweet figs I had bought the other day. The recipe is simple and the good news is that there are two versions of it. For the lazy or inexperienced cooks there is an easy one and for those more ambitious I have a more difficult version. Both look and taste great. I used figs for decoration, which were in the original recipe from a French cooking magazine, that I used to read in Switzerland, but feel free to use any seasonal fruits you have available: peaches or plums, or more exotic ones, like mango or kiwi. A remarkable thing about this cake is that it is done without flour and, instead, ground almonds are used to make the dough.
For this post, I made a dozen of tartelette-size cakes from this recipe, which I think look very attractive, but this amount of dough is sufficient to make one big cake in a 11'' tart pan. It can be decorated and cut later into small triangles.
Almond Sponge Cake with Fresh Fruits
1 cup ground almonds,
1/2 cup sugar,
6 tbsp (room temperature) butter,
1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp sugar for the baking pan.
1. Preheat oven to 325F(180 C.)
2. Spread butter over the baking dish and dust with sugar.
3. Using a mixer whip the butter with sugar until smooth.
4. Add eggs and, when they blend, add almonds.
5. Mix well and transfer to the baking tin.
6. Bake for 15-20 min.
Let the cake cool down before you transfer it on a serving plate, pour the vanilla sauce over it, decorate with fresh fruits of your choice and serve.
The easy version:
1 cup sweet condensed milk,
1 tbsp rum,
1 tbsp vanilla extract,
Mix all the ingredients and pour sauce over the cake, following with fruits.
Home made--the more ambitious version:
1 egg yolk,
2 tbsp sugar,
1 cups milk,
1 tsp corn starch,
Vanilla pod or vanilla essence,
1 tbsp rum.
1. In a bowl beat eggs with sugar, add corn starch, and mix well.
2. If you use a vanilla pod, cut it in half, scoop up the black seeds with a knife and add them to the milk.
3. Boil the milk and pour hot into the yolk mixture.
4. Return to the heat and cook until sauce boils and becomes thicker.
5. Cool down the sauce, add rum, and pour over the cake. Decorate with fruits and serve.
This really simple and elegant dessert will certainly impress.