Hélénettes

Don't ask me about the history and origins of Hélénettes because I don't have a clue. All I know is that they're a simple, little, almond (or sometimes hazelnut) cake that's similar to a classic, old-style macaron but uses egg yolks rather than egg whites. This recipe is based on received wisdom (with only minor tweaks) from some French bakers that I've come across. They're really easy and quick to make. They're also a good way to use up egg yolks after the egg whites have played their part in other recipes such as meringues.

I like the vanilla flavour in this recipe but it could be replaced with almond extract, orange flower water or whatever else you might fancy - within reason. Alternatively, you could leave out the added flavouring altogether. You could also replace the ground almonds with ground hazelnuts if you feel like it or if you have some languishing in your cupboard. Hélénettes are a very pleasant alternative to a more traditional biscuit or two. I particularly like these alongside an espresso but they'll be fine with tea or whatever you prefer to drink on relaxed afternoons. They're also useful for adding a little texture to creamy dessert concoctions.

Hélénettes

2 egg yolks
100g golden caster sugar
80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
100g plain flour
100g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan.

Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together until very thoroughly combined. Whisk in the melted, cooled butter and the vanilla extract until you get a smooth and even mixture - this could take a minute or two of vigorous mixing, so it's easiest to use a machine.

Stir in the flour until well combined and then add the ground almonds in the same way. This will give you quite a thick, paste-like mixture.

Prepare a large baking tray by lining with baking paper or a non-stick mat. Use a tablespoon to scoop out pieces of the dough and roll them between your palms to form into balls (well, roughly balls - you don't need to be too precise). Place on the prepared baking tray, leaving some space between each ball since they will spread a little while baking. You should end up with around 20 balls of dough.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the the tops of the cakes are a light, golden brown. Cool on a wire rack but be careful when handling them fresh from the oven because they'll be quite fragile while hot.

Once cooled, store any that you haven't eaten already in sealed tins or boxes. Hélénettes will store quite happily for a few days, but they will tend to lose their sparkle if stored for too long. Fortunately, they do freeze well.

Comments

  1. These look totally gorgeous. I have never heard of them before in that the name Hélénettes is new to me, but am sure that I have eaten something very similar in the past. Yum !!

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    Replies
    1. Well, I wouldn't be surprised. It's the name that was used when I first came across them but, as I freely admit, I don't know the history or origin of them and they might well turn up with other names around the French regions.

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