Honeycakes with Blackberries and Almond Brittle

Thursday, 24 April 2014

'In the Queen's Ballroom they broke their fast on honeycakes baked with blackberries and nuts...' - A Storm of Swords

I know those are raspberries on the top, but I ran out of blackberries because I didn't think what I would do with the extra baby cake, so had to make do. They are equally as delicious, and anyway the blackberries are inside the cake. 

These honeycake like mini soufflĂ©s, and were deliciously light and fluffy, and they also happen to be gluten free! Whaddayaknow. 

We had them with vanilla and honey whipped cream, berry compote, and almond brittle. Why settle for one treat when you can have four. Right?

Really, though, this recipe has so many elements that are really quite unnecessary because the honeycakes are delicious on their own. 

Serve them straight from the oven or with some ice cream, everyone will still love them. Or go all out, because it was even more delicious with everything. 

<u> Blackberry and Almond Honeycakes </u>
<I> Makes 16 mini cakes or one small cake </I>

- 2 cups almond meal
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup Manuka honey 
- 1 vanilla bean, halved and deseeded or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or essence
- 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt 
- 1 cup blackberries (or raspberries or any berries)

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a muffin tin and line the bottom with some baking paper. (I cut off the pleated part of cupcake liners because I wanted it the cakes to be smooth. Alternatively, use ramekins)
2. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, or until you can hold the bowl upside down over your head and nothing falls on you. 
3. Beat the yolks, honey, vanilla, bicarb, and salt together until thick and creamy. Fold in the berries.
4. Gently fold the egg whites in, one spoonful at a time. Be really careful to not squash the air out of it (like a soufflé).
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

* To make a cake, grease two 6" cake pans. Don't put in the berries. Fill up both cake pans evenly and bake until the cakes are golden. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack, so that the top gets flattened down. Cut the cakes in half if you want a four layered cake, otherwise fold the berry compote with the vanilla and honey whipped cream and sandwich between the cake layers. Top with cream and berries, and press toasted almonds into the sides of the cream.

<u> Berry Compote </u> 
- 1 cup mixed berries
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients on medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and berries are broken down (about 8-10 minutes).

<u> Vanilla and Honey Whipped Cream </u>
- 1/2 cup thickened cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or essence/extract
- 1 tablespoon honey

Whip all ingredients together until soft peaks form. 

<u> Almond Brittle
- 1/4 cup almond slivers 
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water 

1. Toast the almonds in a frying pan over low heat or in the oven until they are golden brown. 
2. Spread nuts out evenly in one layer on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Make sure the tray is on a trivet, cooling rack or a coaster.
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and water. Stir continuously until sugar has dissolved. Brush down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water to ensure no sugar granules are getting stuck. When the liquid is light golden, take the pan off the heat immediately, and then quickly pour onto the nuts. There is a small window of time between toffee and burnt sugar, so watch that pan really carefully and pour the toffee out as soon as it turns a light, pale, golden colour. 
4. Using oven mitts, tap the pan onto the kitchen counter a few times to make sure the toffee sets evenly. The toffee should cover all the nuts, if it doesn't, move the nuts around with a skewer or a fork. 
5. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, or if you're impatient, like me, stick it in the freezer for 5 (keep it on the cooling rack still though).
6. When it is cooled and hardened, break into chunks with a knife or your fingers, and then serve with the honeycakes.


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