We’re already at week 7 of our 12 weeks of Christmas Treats, so graciously hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic. Be sure to stop by her site for great eats, treats, tips, and info on how to join in the fun!
Today, I present to you Visitandines: these dainty little almond cakes have a delectably sweet, nutty flavor, with a wonderful crisp shell. You’ll often find them dotted with a bit of jam, or a raspberry plopped on top, though they are one of those rare cakes that’s wonderful plain.
So, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t love thick, goopy layers of icing (can’t even imagine that, but I won’t judge) – this is the cake for you. The rest of you, go right ahead and dust them with powdered sugar, a drizzle of melted white chocolate ganache, or glaze if you want to ramp up the sweet factor a bit.
Ever had one of those tiny French cakes called financiers? Visitation cakes are one in the same – except they were invented first. These tasty cakes originated in a community of French nuns known as the Sisters of the Visitation (Visitandines). The cakes represent the Virgin Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth before she gave birth to John the Baptist.
These cakes would be a great treat to serve your family during Advent. And they’d be a gosh darn good gift when you go visiting too.
Usually you’ll see these tiny cakes made in pretty designs, but I chose to use the pans I had on hand – a mini muffin tin, and a Madeleine pan.
So sit down, prop your feet up and enjoy a few of these cakes with a comforting cup of coffee or tea – a perfect way to relax during this busy time of year!
|My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.
Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? ~ Bob Hope
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering pans
- 3/4 cup almond meal
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 4 large egg whites
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour, plus a little more for dusting pans
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- optional: fresh raspberries or raspberry preserves
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- 2. Butter and dust muffin tins with flour, tapping out excess.
- 3. Add butter to a medium saucepan and melt it over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter becomes golden and has a nutty smell. The butter will by foamy, then clear and quickly change from yellow to a pale golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour butter into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- 4. Add the almond flour, powdered sugar and egg whites back to the same saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat, just until the mixture is warm to the touch – about 100 degrees F.
- 5. Remove the pan from the heat. Gently fold in the flour. Fold in the butter, almond and vanilla extracts. Do not over mix – just until all is incorporated.
- 6. Fill the muffin tins about 2/3 full. Optional: add one raspberry or a dollop of raspberry preserves to the top of each cake if desired. Bake the cakes until they rise, and are golden – they should feel firm to the touch when you press them gently with a fingertip.
- 7. Remove the pan from the oven, and place it on a baking rack. Allow the cakes to cool two minutes in the pan. Remove the cakes from the pans using a small offset spatula, and allow to cool completely.
- 8. Optional: dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with glaze.
- Storage: If eating cakes the same day, cover loosely with plastic wrap. To store them longer, place cakes in a single layer in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. Allow the cakes to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes or so before serving.
adapted from Nick Malgieri's Visitandines recipe