Monday, February 16, 2009

Less is often more

Sophie and I are home from a weekend at my parents'. Someone needed to deliver my dad's car that was stranded at my house when he broke his leg skiing with us at Alta and I flew him straight home instead of back to my house. And since the car was at my house and it was my ski trip that did him in . . . But we're not complaining. It was a great excuse to check up on him (he's fine), and Sophie and I enjoyed a girls' road trip and a visit with my sister and her kids.

Now that we're back, it's all business. The rough draft of Sophie's report for African American History Month is due tomorrow. Her topic is Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway. Sophie is new at report writing, and so I've given her the advice I wish someone had given some of the authors I work with: Less is more; one of the most important things is deciding what not to include. Harriet Tubman had ten brothers and sisters. Who cares?? In those days lots of people had big families. Tell me something about Harriet Tubman that was not true about [hardly] anyone else. She didn't have a recorded birthdate? Hmmm . . . why not? No one throwing her a lot of birthday parties? Alright then . . . we may be onto something.

At any rate, I thought something nice to eat would help, and given the temperature of my house, I was game for anything that involved turning on the oven.

Last year when I was making petit fours (way too much food in that post, don't you think?), we discovered that Sophie absolutely loves marzipan. These simple almond cakes, which beautifully illustrate the less-is-more principle, incorporate marzipan into that timeless combination of butter, sugar, and flour. Marzipan freezes well, so we almost always have some around—just the thing when a quick treat is needed.


ALMOND CAKES

3 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, plus 1/2 tablespoon melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting molds
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons marzipan
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
confectioners' sugar for dusting

Place oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Brush mini muffin pan cups with melted butter and lightly dust with flour, knocking off extra flour.

Beat together softened butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in marzipan and vanilla until combined well. Then beat in egg until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Divide batter among cups, spreading evenly over tops.

Bake cakes until just firm and edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Run a thin knife blade around each cake to loosen. Let cool slightly and turn upside-down to release. Dust tops with confectioners' sugar.

Did you know Harriet Tubman lived to be 93 years old? Or something around there. At least they recorded that.

10 comments:

carolyn said...

those little marzipan cake look good. Do you remember the almond tea cakes I made at the Bakeshop...I've been thinking of those lately.

Jenn said...

Mmm...that would go good with my cup of coffee I'm sipping. ;)

Midwest Mom said...

Good advice.

Even better recipe.

Thanks! :) - Julia

adozeneggs said...

The almond cakes look great.
There is a town near us, Chester, VT that is chock full of pretty stone houses. Many of them have secret underground rooms that were part of the underground railroad. Pretty cool.

NJDecorator said...

Man, those look really good. I have never used marzipan, so something new to try.

ElleBee said...

Yum! And just for the record? You seriously ARE the BEST pork chop maker EVER. I brined some chops for dinner the other night and they rocked! Thanks for the tip.

Coffee with Cathy said...

So lovely -- something pretty and simple and different. Thanks for sharing!

Angelina said...

I want some. I love Marzipan. I haven't even thought about it in so long. I can almost taste it in my mouth.

Now I know what has been missing from my life for three years running.

Purple Flowers said...

Welcome home! These little cakes look really good. I wouldn't mind having one with my afternoon tea.

gandr said...

"He's Fine"? Is that all the sympathy I get???