Have you ever heard about tiger cakes? As far as I know, no one knows about them here in America, but everyone knows about them in Paris, where you can find them anywhere. This is one of my favorite tea cakes, and it is easy to make. It is a soft buttery almond cake made from egg white, almond flour, butter and a little chocolate – perfect to indulge in at anytime and any occasion. What I especially like is there is not too much chocolate (which can sometimes overwhelm my palate... sorry!).
I found this recipe in Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan. It is a very charming dessert cookbook made up of recipes from well-known Paris pastry shops. Dorie writes interesting stories about each shop/owner/chef, and of course their confections. I find it a lot of fun to read, and you might too.
Anecdote by Author: The only thing that’s the least bit tigerish about these irresistible butter-and-almond tea cakes is their light chocolate striping, a result of folding chipped chocolate (or mini chocolate chips) into the batter just before popping the little cakes into the oven. Tigrés, a Parisian creation, are very simple cakes, sometimes topped with a squiggle of chocolate ganache and sometimes not. Although you can find them all over their native city, I love the tiger cakes at Eric Kayser’s bustling bread shop for just one reason: they’re perfect. They are rich and buttery, of course, but they are also beautifully moist and tightly crumbed, like pound cake. Kayser makes his Tigrés in 2 ½-inch (6-cm) dome-shaped molds, so that the finished cakes line up on the counter like so many igloos, but muffin tins, mini or regular, work like a charm.
Tiger Tea Cakes – Tigrés
Recipe adapted from Maison Kayser, at page 118 in Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan:
Makes 16 muffin-sized cakes or 48 mini-muffin-sized cakes
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 ¼ cups (235 grams) ground blanched almonds
¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
1/3 cup (45 grams) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons (25 grams) light corn syrup or honey
1 stick plus 7 tablespoons (7 ½ ounces; 210 grams) unsalted butter
5 ounces (145 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or mini chips
Bittersweet chocolate ganache (optional)
6 ounces (180 grams) bittersweet chocolate (60% or more), finely copped
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in 2 pieces at room temperature
Working in a medium mixing bowl with a whisk, beat the egg whites just to break them up. Add the ground almonds, sugar, flour and corn syrup and stir until the batter is smooth. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.
When you are ready to make the tigrés, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter enough muffin molds to make 16 large tigrés: if you have muffin pans with molds that hold about 1/3 cup (85 grams), you should be able to make 16 cakes; if you are using mini-muffin molds with a 2 tablespoons capacity, you should be able to make 48 cakes. Remove the batter from the refrigerator.
Put the butter in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Remove the butter from the heat and stir it into the batter. When the batter is no longer warm, stir in the chocolate.
Spoon about 3 tablespoons batter into each buttered regular muffin mold or 1 tablespoon into each mini-muffin mold. Bake the cakes for 15-20 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden: a knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 2-3 minutes, then turn them out onto racks to cool to room temperature.
When the cakes are cool, you can top them with ganache, if you wish. To come as close as possible to Eric Kayser’s dome-shaped tigrés, turn your cakes upside down. Spoon the ganache into a small pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a small rosette of ganache in the center of each tigré.
Keeping: Tigrés will keep in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days (although ganache-topped tigrés are best eaten the day they are made).
Packed airtight, the cakes can be frozen for up to 1 month.
Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, then let the mixture rest for 30 seconds. Using a whisk, very gently stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth, then whisk in the butter until melted.
Note: Do not throw way leftover egg yolks. You can use them for making flan, crème brûlée, crème anglaise sauce, etc. More opportunities to make sweet stuff!
Using 6 leftover egg yolks:
Makes six 6-ounce ramekins (net 4 ounces each)
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups almond milk or whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
Set a rack in the center and preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the ramekins in a baking pan with hot water half way up the side of the ramekins and bake 30 minutes. Cool the crème caramel on a rack, then chill at least 2 hours.