Almond Peach Cakes with Raspberry-Basil Sauce
I had been working on Almond Peach Cakes for a week. I was sure the recipe was perfect when I mixed up my last batch. I spooned the sweet, peachy batter into a generously-buttered muffin tin. I slid the pan into the oven and closed the door. I was guessing when I set the timer for 30 minutes. It was one of the details I wanted to be absolutely sure of before publishing the recipe.
Just as Ina Garten would do, I went to my computer and began typing the final draft of the recipe for Almond Peach Cakes. Twenty minutes later, the power went out. It flashed on and off a few times. And then, gone. I had just checked on the cakes and knew they were not baked.
An hour and a half later, the power came back. I opened the oven, knowing quite well I would be tossing away the small unbaked cakes. What an unexpected relief to find the little cakes had baked to perfection as they sat in the oven that gradually lost heat. Must have been the cake angels.
My work didn't end there, though. I didn't think anyone would appreciate a recipe with directions to bake little cakes in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn off heat and leave the cakes in the oven for an additional 90 minutes without ever opening the door. I mixed up another batch. No power outage this time.
The thick, velvety cake batter is created with just a few kitchen staples and takes little time to mix up. Just before spooning the batter into muffin tins, bits of fresh, peeled peaches are gently stirred in. An almond-sugar mixture, sprinkled into the bottom of each well in the muffin tin, creates a honey-sweet, crunchy top when the cakes are flipped over and served in a pool of Raspberry-Basil Sauce for an impressive dessert.
Chopped fresh basil leaves macerate with ruby-red raspberries, at their peak in local gardens right now, along with some sugar and a squirt of fresh lime juice while cakes are being prepared. After straining the raspberry mixture, the resulting sauce is sweet and sour and intensely fruity with a slightly spicy and totally irresistible perfume of basil.
Raspberry-Basil Sauce is delectable drizzled over ice cream, waffles and French toast. Lay your favorite brownie in a puddle of the bright red sauce to turn it into an elegant-looking dessert.
If you don't need a show-stopping dessert right now, make Almond Peach Cakes and serve them like muffins with a dusting of powdered sugar for breakfast or brunch. They are delectable with a cup of coffee or tea.
If you happen to have a power-outage while the cakes are baking, just leave them in the oven with the door closed and pray the cake angels are taking care of them.
Almond Peach Cakes with Raspberry-Basil Sauce
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons pure almond extract, divided
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup peeled and chopped peaches
1/2 cup ground or very finely chopped almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Squirt of fresh lime juice
Whipped cream and raspberries, for serving
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Mash fresh raspberries in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in sugar and chopped basil. Set aside while preparing cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Generously butter bottom and sides of a muffin tin that holds 12 cupcakes. Set aside.
Sift flour and baking powder together. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat egg with electric mixer. Add 1¼ cups sugar and beat well. Blend in 1½ teaspoons almond extract and milk. On low speed, blend in sifted dry ingredients. Add melted butter and beat mixture just until completely incorporated. Gently stir in chopped peaches.
In a small bowl, use a fork to mix ground almonds with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla extract and remaining ½ teaspoon almond extract. Mixture should look like crumbs. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of almond-sugar mixture into the bottom of each buttered well in muffin tin. Divide batter evenly among the wells in muffin tin. If there is any almond-sugar mixture remaining in bowl, sprinkle over tops of cakes. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden on top and baked through.
Cool cakes in pan for 20 minutes. Run a table knife around the edge of each cake and use the knife to nudge the cakes out of the pan. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12 cakes.
Pour raspberry mixture into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Use a spoon or rubber spatula to push the mixture through the sieve. Discard berry pulp, seeds and basil remaining in the sieve. Refrigerate sauce until serving time.
To serve, spoon a pool of sauce on each dessert plate. Set a cake on the sauce. Top each with whipped cream and a whole raspberry. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Tips from the cook
--Paper liners can be used for baking the cakes. I recommend buttering the bottom of each paper liner before sprinkling in the almond-sugar mixture.
--I used a muffin tin with 1/3-cup liquid capacity in each well.
--To peel peaches, use a soft-skin peeler or blanch peaches by putting them into a pot of boiling water for 40 seconds. Immediately transfer the peaches to a bowl of ice water. After 1 minute, remove from water. Use your fingers or a paring knife to slip peel away from the peach.