Frangipane is a sweet almond filling, used in all sorts of ways. In France, for the Epiphany celebration, they make a king cake or galette de rois. The Italians use an almond filling, which they call frangipani, as almond pastry cream for tarts with seasonal fruit. Bakewell tarts are a much loved English treat that is made with layers of jam, frangipane, and topped with flaked almonds. No matter the name, these tender almond cupcakes are perfect for any summer gathering: 4th of July, a barbecue or cookout, or a special afternoon tea.
Fruit on the Side
Light, super quick and easy to make, these cupcakes go with any fruit you have. Berries and stone fruit with whipped cream are the perfect accompaniments. I happened to have some rhubarb when I was making a batch, and the pairing was quite lovely too. I found that stirring berries or other chopped fruit into the batter resulted in the incredibly sad sinking fruit phenomena. Serving fresh strawberries on the side with a generous plop of yogurt-spiked whipped cream is the way to go. I've included the whipped cream recipe below.
The crunchy topping is essentially a streusel that highlights nuts and sugar for an effortless, caramelized crunch, with a bit of flour to bind everything together. I experimented with flaked almonds and pistachios, and they are both excellent flavor matches. Happily, given their size, neither needs to be chopped and there is no need to toast them. The topping adds a lovely crunch to the tender cardamom-scented cake. In this recipe, I suggest cardamom and rose water, but if you want a more traditional flavor profile, go with vanilla and cinnamon instead.
Quite a few years ago, I came across America’s Test Kitchen’s version of whipped cream that they paired with the French dessert, tart tatin. They added a good dollop of sour cream to the whipped cream at the soft-peek stage. Sour cream adds a sophisticated tangy twist. Since then, I’ve also experimented with thick, Greek-style yogurt. The happy result is that Greek yogurt works just as well, giving the whipped cream a nice depth of flavor.
Amazingly, the whipped cream stays stabilized for two to three days. There is no weeping or deflating, making this healthier combination a keeper for other desserts as well. My recipe is 1 cup of whipping cream, 1/4 cup thick yogurt, 1 to 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar (powder sugar OR granulated white sugar), and one teaspoon of vanilla or a flavoring of your choice. This formula is lightly sweetened so feel free to add more sugar. And double the ingredients, depending on how you are using the cream.
PS Another good Indian-spiced cake is my Indian-ish carrot cake. So good!
See the Notes below before you cook.
Cardamom Crunch Almond Cupcakes
- 1/ 2 cup flaked almonds ~ Or pistachios
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour ~ Or almond flour
- 5 tablespoons coarse sugar ~ Or white granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom ~ Ideally freshly ground, you'll need another 1/2 teaspoon for the cakes
- 1/2 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Or 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter ~ Melted
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter ~ Very slightly softened
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons rose water ~ Or 1/2 teaspoon rose essence or 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, substitutions
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom ~ Ideally freshly ground or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- whipped cream ~ See my recipe in the Notes below.
- Mix all the ingredients together and set aside.
- Gather all the ingredients and turn the oven on to 350°F (180°C).
- Cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high with a paddle attachment. A hand mixer works well too. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing the batter in between additions.
- Add the rose water or vanilla and mix together. In a small bowl, blend the almond flour, salt, and cardamom or cinnamon. Dump the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture and blend together.
- Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers and spoon the batter into the cups until 2/3 full. There is batter enough for 8 1/2 cupcakes. The extra half is for you to snack on. If you like weighing things, I've found that 46 grams are the perfect amount of batter. If you divide the batter evenly into 8 cakes, the liners are slightly overfilled.
- Top the cupcakes with the crunchy topping and bake for 12 to 16 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the center is set. Start checking at the 12-minute mark. You are looking for only the slightest bit of color on the edges. If you bake the cupcakes until the edges are golden brown you may have difficulty peeling off the liners.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool room temperature and serve with whipped cream and fruit, or all alone with their tender little selves.
- I have found that these cupcakes have a tendency to stick to the cupcake liners. To prevent this:
- Buy good quality cupcake papers.
- Don't overbake the cupcakes. Bake just until the center of the cupcakes is set with only a slight touch of browning. If you bake them until the edges are golden brown you may have difficulty peeling off the liners.
- Allow the cakes to cool to room temperature before removing them from the papers.
- My mini recipe for whipped cream is 1 cup of whipping cream, 1/4 cup thick yogurt, 1 to 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar (powdered sugar OR granulated white sugar), and one teaspoon of vanilla, rose water, or a flavoring of your choice.