The weather has warmed up a little at last, the bulbs are flowering and I’m beginning to believe that there is an alternative to winter. And, even better, sitting on my desk at the moment are the first goose eggs I’ve managed to find this year. That means simply the best scrambled egg known to man or woman – or at least known to me. All that and a new album by Elbow – things are really looking up.
While I was thinking nice thoughts about the spring I decided to make some friands using hazelnuts rather than almonds. Quite why hazelnut cakes make me think of spring I shall probably never know, but they are light, very tasty and make me happy so they seem suitable.
The last time I made friands I got into a discussion about what the difference might be between friands and financiers. You could consider at length differences in flavourings and techniques, but essentially I think it comes down to the fact that friands are a funny shape and often speak with an Australian or New Zealand accent.
You can make these in cupcake or muffin moulds if you don’t have a friand tin. This recipe will make 10 – 12, depending on the size of the mould. Oh, and I used ordinary hens' eggs for the cakes – you can bake with goose eggs but there's no way I'm giving up my scrambled eggs.
200 g icing sugar
80 g plain flour (I used an extra-fine sponge flour)
130 g finely ground hazelnuts
7 egg whites
170 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
65 g white chocolate, in small chunks or finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon, very finely chopped
1 tbsp frangelico liqueur (if you happen to have some)
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare the friand tin by brushing carefully with melted butter.
Sieve the icing sugar, flour and ground hazelnuts together into a large bowl and mix them together. Whisk the egg whites just until they're frothy – you only want to loosen the egg whites, not make them stiff. Gently stir the egg whites into the dry ingredients until they're thoroughly combined, but don't overwork the mixture. Now gently stir in the melted butter and the frangelico (if you’re using it). Finally, stir in the chocolate and lemon zest.
Spoon the batter into the tin – each hole needs to about ¾ full. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until lightly golden and springy to the touch. Allow the friands to cool in the tin for a short while before removing them and transferring to a rack to cool completely.