Rarrrgh! This makes me want to re-watch Little Miss Sunshine. Abigail Breslin as Olive Hoover is just about the cutest thing ever. And she can really growl!
This is basically what was happening in Kitchen Gusto while I was making these awesome little cakes. They are called tigrés in French. The considerable amount of chopped chocolate folded into the batter before baking contrasts with the golden color of the cakes to resemble (to the creative imagination) a tiger’s stripes.
So what is it? A very French little individual-sized cake, the sort you might have with your afternoon tea or coffee. The batter consists of egg whites, almonds, flour, sugar, and butter. It’s a variation of the famous little Parisian financier cakes, which (so the story goes) were either invented near the Parisian stock exchange and a favorite of the bankers’ or were named that because they usually come in little rectangular shapes, like a bar of gold.
These sort of little cakes are not all that common in the US, which is why you can really impress with them – like a secret baking weapon. Because of how the cakes are made, they are extremely moist and dense. And they stay that way – these things will keep for days and days.
What exactly makes them so moist as compared to the average cake, you say? It’s because there’s no air worked into the batter. Where with other cakes you might cream the butter and sugar together, adding air to give your cake a fluffy light crumb, here the butter is melted. In addition, only the whites of the eggs are used, unwhipped, which are much wetter than the yolks. And there’s a high amount of sugar, which is a liquid when combined with other liquids. Because the cakes are dense and not fluffy, there’s much less air inside the cake than a traditional cake. Air causes baked goods to dry out and go stale.
I make these in regular-sized muffin tins. Inverting the cake and topping it with ganache makes it pretty. Prettier still, these would look nice in small savarin molds or mini-cannelé molds, like these or these. But please don’t let the lack of fancy molds stop you from trying these little cakes. A regular muffin tin works just fine. Mini-muffin pans would also work, although they’ll cook more quickly so reduce the time in the oven accordingly.
These don’t take long to make at all, but the batter does need to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours (at least) before baking. And if you want to top these with piped ganache, it will need to be made ahead so that it can cool to the right consistency to pipe. But they’ll also taste amazing with a warm ganached drizzled on top of them from a spoon.
These freeze exceptionally well (without the ganache topping), and because they’re small take less time to thaw than a larger cake. Once you have some of these in the freezer, you can have them pretty much whenever you want.
- 6 egg whites
- 1.75 cups (235 g) blanched almonds
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
- ⅓ cup (45 g) flour
- 1.5 Tbsp. (25 g) light corn syrup
- 7.5 oz (210 g) butter, melted
- 5 oz (145 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 8 oz (230 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 8 oz (250 g) heavy cream
- Combine the almonds, sugar, and flour in the work bowl of a food processor. Grind to a fine meal, but don’t go overboard as you don’t want it to become a paste.* Stop frequently and stir to make sure everything is blending well.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites just to break them up, add the corn syrup, and then stir in the almond mixture until you’ve got a consistent mixture.
- Fold in the melted butter until the batter is consistent.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, until thoroughly cold, or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (170 C).
- Remove the batter from the refrigerator. Now you’ve got to warm it back up. Stir the mixture vigorously, or use an electric hand-held or stand mixer with the paddle attachment to agitate the batter, bring it to cool room temperature, and re-incorporate any butter that may have settled on the bottom of the bowl.
- Stir in the chopped chocolate.
- Lightly butter 16 muffin regular-sized muffin cups. Since most muffin tins have 12 cups, having two muffin tins is handy here.
- Divide the batter among the 16 muffin cups. It’s going to be slightly less then ¼ cup (60 ml) of batter per cup. That means the muffin cups will be about half full.
- Bake the cakes for 15-20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean. Also, by touching the top of the cake you’ll know its done when it’s no longer mushy feeling.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes in the muffin tins. Then invert the tins onto a cooling rack.
- Let the cake cool to room temperature.
- To make the ganache, put the chopped chocolate in a bowl and put the cream in a saucepan.
- Bring the cream to a boil. A full boil. That means the cream should be bubbling up and threatening to spill over the sides of the pan.
- Add the boiling cream to the chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter a few times to encourage the cream to get down into the chocolate.
- Let the mixture sit one minute.
- With a whisk, beginning in the center of the bowl, slowly begin stirring, working your way out to the sides of the bowl.
- Continue for two minutes or until the chocolate is fully melted. Don’t skimp here. When you think it’s ready, it can be a good idea to go for one more minute just to be sure!
- The inverted cakes can be dipped into the warm ganache for a smooth glazed topping. Or the ganache can be drizzled in stripes (like a tiger). Once the ganache is fully cool (room temperature or slightly cooler) it can be used as a frosting — piped with a star tip to form pretty rosettes.