This blog has been looking a little gray recently...not in a bad way, mind, with chocolate and golden-brown pastries. But still, a little too earth-toned. It makes me miss summer desserts like cobbler and ice cream, light (okay, light is a pretty subjective word here), fresh, and bursting with fruit.
Winter brings its crop of fruit, but I've always found that it takes a lot more effort to incorporate them into desserts, beyond the basic cranberry relish and citrus zest. I was thrilled to get a shipment of seasonal fruit from Melissa's last week, challenging me to use them in dessert. It's nice to get a little pop of color on the blog.
I used some ripe persimmons to create mini almond sponge cakes, something of a cross between a financier and a Madeleine. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, persimmons are a plump, tangerine-sized fruit (no, that's not a tomato you see there). When they're ripe, their flesh becomes very soft and sweet, almost honey-like. The color fades in the oven, but the fruit makes the batter a wonderful bright orange.
The persimmon pulp and almond meal makes the cakes incredibly moist, and the persimmon glaze provides additional sweetness and color. I think the pomegranate seeds make them extra cute--they're practically begging you to make them and throw a tea party.
Melissa's provided me with a free sample of their products to review. All opinions are my own.
Persimmon and Pomegranate Tea Cakes
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Yields: about 24 tea cakes
For the Cakes
½ cup finely ground almonds (almond flour)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 persimmons, very ripe
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons butter, melted
For the Glaze
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice*
½ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)**
1 cup powdered sugar
pomegranate seeds, to decorate
*You can either use store-bought pomegranate juice, or press about ¼ cup of pomegranate seeds through a fine mesh strainer.
**The acid in cream of tartar will allow the glaze to keep its reddish color. It can be omitted, but may make the glaze become more of a purple color.
In a large bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Place the persimmons, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract in the food processor, and blend until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. You want to beat the eggs enough that the mixture becomes thick and foamy. Add the melted butter and blend again.
Fold the persimmon/egg mixture into the flour mixture. Refrigerate the batter for 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease 24 tea cake molds (you could also use muffin tins or even a madeleine pan) with vegetable oil. Fill the molds ¾ of the way full with batter, and place them on a cookie sheet.
Bake the cakes for 12-13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cakes are golden-brown around the edges. Let cool for 20-30 minutes, then carefully release them from the molds and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Make the pomegranate glaze. Mix together the pomegranate juice and cream of tartar, then mix in the powdered sugar. Dip the cakes into the glaze, and place a few pomegranate seeds on top of each cake.