Friday, March 30, 2012

Socca with Spinach and Broccoli

Socca: such a specialized-sounding suggestion of succulence. These are neither delicate but sturdy crepes, nor hearty buckwheat galettes, but rather a thick garbanzo flour pancake from the the region of Nice in the Southeast of France. When Will and I travelled there last summer, I wrote about it in my personal journal, but didn't post about it here on my blog. When I stumbled across a socca recipe in the Seattle Times this week, my mind and my memories leapt immediatly back to the French Riviera when Will and I strolled through a heat-haze of gelato-weariness and beach-envy along the Promenade des Anglais. A welcome day-dream during the incessant Spring downpour that has been dousing Seattle with an atypical drenching and shattering our shower-stereotype.

I pawed back through my journal to read more about our socca snack at a shady cafe table in 
Old Nice. I found more about our walks along the harbor. But pulling all the individual moments back to the front of my mind made me even hungrier to recreate the sun-soaked sea-saltiness in my own kitchen.

I made a half-recipe of the batter, which made 5 perfect soccas in a 6-inch omelette pan, and were ample servings for dinner for two. Although the tomato topping in the article looks divine, it would taste entirely like Spring-in-Seattle (ie: like bland, watery, mushy pre-summer tomatoes) so instead I used more seasonably suitable selections. Two soccas I topped with simple steamed broccoli florets and shredded smoked gouda cheese. For the other two I sauteed some shallots and minced carrot with just a touch of butter, then stirred in about 3 cups of chopped fresh spinach and a bit of bacon jam until thoroughly wilted. A light drizzle of balsamic and some grated fresh parmesan added a perfect compliment of tang and saltiness to accompany the slighty sour socca.

My Nicoise socca was folded in quarters over melted gruyere, but these open-faced vegetable gardens masterfully transported me back to the Riviera. (And one more way to further deplete my egg-white supply!)

makes five 6-inch socca
104 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) garbanzo bean (chick pea) flour
1 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons olive oil
3/8 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 egg white (30 grams)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Blend together first 5 ingredients until batter is completely smooth. Whip egg white until soft peaks form, then fold egg white into batter.

Brush a 6" diameter non-stick skillet with a paper-towel dipped in olive oil to get the thinnest coating of oil in the pan. Heat over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium and pour in 1/5 of batter to cover bottom of the pan about 1/4" thick. Cook about 2 minutes, running a rubber spatula around the edges of the cooking batter to loosen. Flip pancake and cook on opposite side about 1 minute more. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet and top with toppings. Repeat until all batter is used. Heat topped soccas in oven until cheese is melted and serve immediately.

Spinach Topping
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot (or onion, or garlic)
1 medium carrot, diced
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1-2 teaspoons bacon jam (optional, otherwise season with salt and pepper)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a small heavy skillet over medium low heat. Stir in shallot and carrot. Stir in spinach until wilted. Stir in jam until coated. Stir in vinegar. Divide spinach mixture evenly on two socca, and top with cheese.

Broccoli with Browned Butter and Hazelnuts
(used here as a topping, but just as good as a side dish on it's own!)
serves 4
1 head of broccoli
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons finely chopped hazelnuts
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut broccoli into bite-sized florets. Peel any tough leaves from stems, and chop stems into bite-sized pieces as well. Bring an inch of water to boil in a pot, and steam broccoli pieces on a steamer rack for about 3 minutes, until tender, but still crisp and bright green.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saute pan or wok over medium heat. Continue cooking over medium until solids start to separate and sink to the bottom of the pan. Stir gently to prevent burning, but allow solids to become a toasty brown color.

Add shallots and cook one minute. Stir steamed broccoli into butter and shallots. Squirt with lemon juice. Toss gently with ground hazelnuts until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Orange Butter Cake

Not everyone has the "so many egg whites, not enough uses for them" problem, but those that do (like me!) generally have it in a bad way. All of you who thus far have been spared such a predicament might not even conceptualize how it comes about. But bake your way through enough of my cake recipes - and in particular, cake fillings - and you will rapidly amass a freezer full of leftover egg whites from all the yolks that are siphoned off for custards and curds or even just glazing a loaf of bread.

Sure, some of those very same cakes need a meringue frosting to go with them. And at least one of every five dozen egg whites deserves to become an angel food cake to accompany some glorious summer berries. But then things can start to get tricky. Last spring, I was pleased to find this excellent article, with a number of solid suggestions for "the other half," but none of these recipes really spoke to me (excepting the spiced nuts, but those are already a frequent part of my repetoire and one large batch still only uses one solitary egg white.)

There must be another way! Yes, it's still cake (do I lose points for that?) I found inspiration from many sources - primarily an egg-white-only spice cake in The Cake Bible, and the pith-peel-and-all Satsuma Cake, but I truly take complete credit for developing this recipe myself. This is nothing like a sticky-sweet airy-puff of angel food. It needs no accompaniment, but would be excellent with just a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce. With a delicious touch of bitterness, like marmelade, this moist, flavorful orange cake has a great texture with a golden "crust" but soft and dense interior. The layers are shallow, so did not make for a glamourous dinner party dessert, but are pefect with tea for breakfast or a snack. I might also try baking all the batter one pan for a more substantial presentation. [I'm not sure that the egg whites will provide enough structure to keep it from collapsing... I'll let you know if I try it, or you can test it yourself and post the results in the comments here. It would need to bake longer, and maybe start at a higher temperature then lower oven to try and prevent sinking.]

1 cup orange puree (about 1 1/2 medium oranges) - remove seeds, but throw everything else in to the food processor... pith, peel, the works.
135 grams egg whites (1/2 cup or about 4 large)
1/4 cup milk
300 grams all-purpose flour (2.1 cups)
300 grams sugar (1.56 cups)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans, with removeable bottoms (or line with parchment). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine egg whites with 1/4 cup of orange puree and milk. In separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, soda, powder, salt, and cloves). Add softened butter and remaining 3/4 cups orange puree and blend until well combined. In three additions, blend in egg mixture, beating well after each addition to incorporate and develop structure of batter. Divide evenly into prepared pans and bake about 30 minutes, until tops are golden and tested inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack for 15 minutes, then invert.

Friday, March 23, 2012

To Keep Costco from Going to Waste

If you have a Costco membership, chances are you've done this before: bought way more of something than you can ever hope to use up, because the price tag is less than it would be for the amount you would actually use, and justified it all to yourself that you would share, or freeze, or still save money even if half goes in the trash. Of course, the "cost" of this is not a savings, because waste is not cheap, and we all pay for this somewhere along the line even if it isn't immediately obvious in our wallets.

I have to say I'm pretty good about being able to use up everything I buy, even if it means an achingly-dull freezer full of the same old ingredient. I thought I was verging on this with my pound of portobellos purchase. However, the thing with mushrooms is that they don't freeze well unless you cook them, and they have so much moisture that when cooked, they evaporate way down so they really don't seem to be such an overwhelming quantity in the end. 

I first started buying these for parties when I would make a mushroom filling for individual tartlett hors d'ouvres. This time I figured I could use them up in salads and scrambled eggs. For two people. Ha.

As the inevitability of a white fuzz sheen drew near, I decided I had to act. What I determined to make was a mushroom soup, and in what ended up making two full dinners and two full leftovers, those baby bellas became baby bye-byes.

Mushroom Soup
1 1/2 onions - about 3 cups
1/4 cup butter
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced evenly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 4-inch sprig rosemary
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry

And what goes better with a warm bowl of soup on those frustrating "transitional" days from Winter to Spring than a hearty loaf of freshly-baked herbal-scented crusty bread?
Fennel Bread
adapted from Nami-Nami
10.5 grams active dry yeast (or about 3 1/2 teaspoons)
1 Tbsp honey
13.5 ounces water, 105-115 degrees F

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 - 1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed

Dissolve the yeast and the honey in the water, stir until smooth. Add the all-purpose flour, kneading with the dough hook of a stand mixer (or with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula). Mix in the salt and crushed fennel seeds. When combined, begin adding whole wheat flour, a couple tablespoons at a time, until dough pulls easily from the side of the bowl but isn't dry. 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap let rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in bulk (about 90 minutes.)

Punch down dough. Divide it into two equally sized pieces. Form each dough piece into an oblong loaf on a lightly-floured baking sheet. Cover loosely with a towel and allow to rise another 20 minutes or so while the oven preheats. Set oven to 480 F.

Bake the loaves in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 300 F and continue baking for about 18 minutes longer, until the bread is light golden brown, and the bread sounds 'hollow' when you tap onto the bottom. Let cool on a metal rack, loosely covered with a towel. Best enjoyed fresh.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spiced Almonds

So easy, great snack, lovely hostess gift, and uses up some of those pesky egg whites that remain after a rich cake or frosting recipe.

1 large egg white (1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon garam masala powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

3 cups raw almonds

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment (optional, but easier!) Whisk egg white, vinegar, and oil in large bowl. Whisk in next remaining ingredients until well-coated. Add almonds and toss toss. Transfer to baking sheet, spreading evenly. Bake until toasted and fragrant, stirring every 10 minutes, about 40 minutes total. Be careful not to burn - if you can smell the almond smell, they are probably getting done. They might still seem wet, but they will crisp up beautifully as they cool. Cool on the baking sheet, then store in air-tight container. These will last for months. I don't recommend refrigeration as the humidity could make the coating not so crispy.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

O'Chocolate Cake with Beer and Whisky

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Unlike the hoards who joyfully leap like a leprecaun from a field of shamrocks into a pseudo-Irish heritage excuse for beer and potato consumption, I have some legitimate Irish genes and the green eyes to go with it. My maiden name was in fact Americanized version of O'Doyle (ie: Doyle), but it is through my mom - with her Irish grandmother with a thick brogue and her dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins - that the real influence comes. Nevertheless, I have never identified as an Irish-American, and certainly haven't experienced most of the characteristic cultural elements that would give me any credibility as an Irishwoman. However, I have always been the one to share a bit-o-the-green on St. Paddy's Day, with shamrock stickers and soda bread galore (preferably, like a true American, with lots of glitter and plenty of butter respectively.)

Just a few short weeks ago, I posted about Will's birthday and the chocolate stout cake recipe that made four layers instead of the expected two. All that was needed was a half-batch of ganache to whip for a filling, and some frosting to ice the layers and I would have a just-as-good-as-fresh-baked cake for St. Patrick! (I'd wrapped the layers individually in tightly-sealed plastic wrap to freeze, and defrosted them in the refridgerator. I moved them from the freezer to the fridge first thing in the morning, and they were ready to assemble by late afternoon. They were still a bit firm in the middle, but the assembled cake sat at room temperature for a couple of hours and it was absolutely perfect and completely fresh by the time we ate it for dessert.)

To make the same cake layers into a completely different cake, I took the filling and frosting in a completely different direction, and used that as an opportunity to further stereotypize the affair with additional Guinness and whisky. A light whipped ganache with Guinness flavoring and a whiskey-tinged cream cheese frosting turned this chocolate cake into a divine dessert capable of scaring the snakes and the saints out of Ireland.

For Cake: Chocolate Stout Cake from Bon Appetit, September, 2002 (I found this recipe made enough for four 8-inch layers; I only used two for the cake described here.)

For Filling:
based on "Light Whipped Ganache" from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

1 cup whipping cream
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I used 2 ounces 71% and 2 ounces milk)
2 tablespoons Guinness (hopefully you like drinking it, because this is only a small part of a bottle/can and you will just have to drink the rest to keep it from going to waste... Slainte!)

Heat cream to gentle simmer. Chop chocolate in food processor. Pour heated cream through feed tube of processor while blade is running and process until combined and chocolate is melted. Pour into a bowl and fold in Guinness. Cool in fridge about two hours, stirring periodically. Once cooled, beat with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

Note: This recipe will make more than you need to fill two layers, but the leftovers make for lovely piped decoration, or eating later with a spoon. Will dipped a banana in the filling with great results.

For Frosting:
5 ounces cream cheese, softened (this is what I had left over from a package after another recipe, you can use more or less if convenient)
1 stick butter, softened
about 2 cups powdered sugar (amount will depend on how much cream cheese you are using and how sweet you like it or what thickeness of texture you want)
2 tablespoons Irish whisky

Beat together cream cheese and butter until no lumps remain and texture is fluffy. Beat in sugar until smooth. Beat in whisky until smooth. Taste, and add additional sugar or whisky if desired for flavor or consistency.
To Assemble
Spread filling on cake layer to desired thickness. (From this recipe, you will have leftovers, which make for lovely piped decoration, or eating later with a spoon. Will dipped a banana in the filling with great results.)

This cake is dense and rich, but it is moist and so flavorful. It's sweet, but not too sweet. I was unsure about using a cream cheese frosting on it, but it was an excellent complement. Plus, as you can see from the photo, the slices are beautiful - clean and even, and the filling piped perfectly. I had some leftover green sugar, which added just the right sparkly touch to a shamrock decoration.

I don't necessarily recommend serving these two items together, though perhaps nothing says St. Patrick's Day as much as a bit o' overkill on the Guinness... my reasoning was that it was a better value to buy a six-pack of Guinness bottles than just a single draught can, so since the beer is already in the fridge, there's no harm in mixing up a batch of these chocolate Guinness puddings. Plus, these lovely ivory and kelly green Spode plates and teacups - while charming - don't get much use around our house during the rest of they year, because they do follow a fairly bold color scheme that would be a shame to ignore on March 17.

In previous years of hunting for Irish delights to cook up for the holiday, I had come across this recipe, and never would have chosen on my own to make it. However, my mom made it for us a couple of weeks ago and it was delicious so far beyond what I would have expected that I knew it was worth having twice in one month.  I made it exactly as written, but scaled down to 75% (my mom just made a half-recipe). We both were surprised that as written, it is to "serve 6" because it is quite rich and dense, and just a few spoonfuls are completely satisfying... the portion called out in the recipe would be pretty overwhelming. Nevertheless, the photo that accompanies the recipe is quite clever, and I can see the appeal in trying to serve it in a pint glass for festivity. My 3/4 quantity made 8 servings in teacups.

The only thing I would change next time is to either skip the Guinness syrup in the whipped cream topping, or add a bit of sugar... even though the pudding is sweet and benefits from a creamy foil, I found the Guinness flavor in the whipped topping to be too bitter and raw.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Apple Custard Tart

If you don't recall the stunning "Harvest Pie" I made last Thanksgiving, now is the time to acquaint yourself with it. One of the great things about this recipe, besides how lovely, festive, and delicious it is, is that the recipe makes enough for two crusts. For my small family, that meant one pie to eat, and one crust in the freezer for a special time to come.

That time came when we received an Tuesday-night (read: work night) invitation to dinner with friends and I offered to bring dessert. Having something half-ready yet whole-homemade gave me extra time to spend on a unique filling.

I knew I wanted to use this crust for a tart this time. When I'd made the pie, I baked a couple of the trimmings on their own, and thought they were tasty enough to serve as a cookie. And the most delightful tart need be nothing more than a delectable crust with some whipped cream or custard and fresh fruit.

My first thought was to make a champagne custard and top with berries. I have been thinking about champagne custard as a component of a wedding cake I'll be making in May, and want to test-drive a couple concoctions in the next couple months. I purchased a bottle of sparkling wine thinking I might whip up a batch for Valentine's Day, but had been out of eggs at the time. I am still going to try that once berries are in season. Meanwhile, I had some frozen blueberries, which is what got me thinking about a baked custard. (Frozen fruit can be just fine cooked, but I wouldn't want to serve it as a stand-in for fresh.)

I made a blueberry custard tart for my dad's birthday one year, and thought about going that route, before steering toward something slightly more seasonal and able to use the organic apples already in my fridge. I thought about going to that same custard and simply swapping out the fruit, but a quick search for "apple custard tart" brought me to this heavenly-sounding version with browned butter. I simply adore the rich, carmelized toastiness that browned butter brings to virtually any dish it touches, and with the nuttiness of my almond-sesame crust and harvest sweetness of apples it seemed exactly the right thing.

Besides trading the pastry crust for my almond cookie crust, my only other changes to the recipe were to use 3 Braeburn apples (18 oz total), sliced more thinly into about 15 wedges each, and to omit the pepper from the saute. As you can see in my photo, the apples didn't stay entirely on top of the custard like they did in the Food & Wine photo, but they still retained the evenly-spaced spiral pattern.

I scooped the apples out of the saute pan to transfer them into the tart shell, and was left with some sweetened apple-butter remaining. Rather than dump it out, or drown the custard with it, I decided to turn it into a small amount of caramel to drizzle on the plate before serving. Making sure there were no pieces of apple left in the pan, I turned the heat to high to reduce it a bit more, then added a touch of cream and simmered until it was thickened. As it cooled, it turned into a luxuriously and lightly fruit-scented caramel sauce perfect as an accompaniment.

The tart chilled overnight in the fridge and I served it at room temperture the next day. It kept fabulously, without the crust turning soggy or the apples getting mushy, for three days, and makes an excellent breakfast. :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli

Last fall, when I made some pumpkin dip for a party, I put half the batch in the freezer, with the idea that I would use it as a ravioli filling. Rather than making pasta from scratch (not hard, but time-consuming, and imprecise for ravioli without a pasta roller), I filled wonton wrappers - purchased ready-to-go in exactly the right shape and size. Suggestions from other blogs were to use two wrappers layered on top of each other, otherwise they are too thin and will break when cooked. This worked fine for me, with about 2 teaspoons of dip spooned into each, moistened the perimeter with water, then folded diagonally into a pyramid shape. A gentle crimp of the edges with fork tines served both to help seal and add a decorative touch.

These are a tad delicate, so instead of just dumping them into a pot of boiling water, I laid them in a single layer in a steamer basket and cooked in batches. It's okay for them to be submerged in water, as long as they aren't roiling around in the pot. I cooked about three minutes per batch in simmering, salted water.

While the raviolis were steaming, I prepared a sauce of thinly sliced onions sauteed over medium heat in a mixture of 1/2 T butter and 1/2 T olive oil, with salt and freshly ground pepper. Once the onions were soft and starting to carmelize - but not to brown - I stirred in just enough cream to coat (for about 1/2 cup onions, I used 1/3 cup cream.) For just the right punch of flavor and a smoky, salty contrast to the savory mellow sweetness of the squash filling, I blended just a couple of teaspoons bacon jam into the sauce. Bacon jam is the signature product of local gem Skillet Diner. The restaurant serves bacon jam as a spread on sandwiches, but also sells jars to take home with house and user-submitted recipes on their website. It gave a nice glazed consistency to the sauce to perfectly coat the ravioli with just the right sheen of silky flavor.
Garnished with shaved parmesan cheese and roasted garlic brussels sprouts.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grilled Mochi

I did some consulting work for a nursing home for Japanese-Americans, and was talking with a Japanese-American friend about it afterwards, remarking on how important it is for people - especially the elderly and those who may otherwise feel confused or detached from their environment - to have access to food that they enjoy and recognize.

My quintessential comfort food is macaroni and cheese, or maybe tuna-noodle casserole (hold the peas!) And with a grandmother in an assisted-living community, I know that these dishes frequently make appearances on the menu, and likely are appreciated by most of the residents for their bland-but-soothing flavors and easy to chew and digest texture. What was great for me about the consulting job that I did was thinking about the elderly Japanese-Americans who literally were wasting away from not eating, rather than consuming scoops of greasy noodles or oily potatoes. Hamburgers and french fries weren't the last pieces of their younger lives that they could still enjoy, they were foreign and sometimes rather revolting stand-ins for nutrition. Where was the rice and stir-fry vegetables? Where were the toothsome buckwheat noodles and savory miso broth? You can keep your dark-stained water of rehydrated decaf coffee crystals... how about a nice steaming cup of antioxidant-laden green tea?

My friend shared with me that a comfort food in her house, where her Japanese grandmother still does much of the cooking even well into her 80's, is mochi. I have often had the mochi ice cream balls, without even realizing that mochi is the rice dough surrounding the ice cream, and is used in countless preparations, ice cream being the primary version to cross into American ethnic food aisles. At the Asian market, mochi is sold in balls or cubes (which in theory could then be rolled out and wrapped around a scoop of ice cream). It is basically just rice... glutinous rice is pounded into a paste with water and formed into a shape. The ones I purchased were balls about the diameter of a golf ball, but slightly flattened, and frozen.

My friend told me that what she likes to do with it is put squares of mochi directly into a hot skillet, where they will puff up and get crispy, then dip them in a mixture of soy sauce and brown sugar. I wasn't sure that there wasn't more to it than that- you know, the crucial step that she just know and it seems so obvious she forgets to tell me. So I looked it up and found this great blog post that says basically the same thing but goes into slightly more detail with an actual recipe:

Surely you've put a marshmallow in the microwave before? Heating mochi on the grill is a very similar experience... watching it puff, swell, sure that it will burst into a sticky mess, but somehow it stays contained while garnering a smokey singe from the griddle and a gooey interior. It was recommended to microwave the mochi for a few seconds first anyway, just to get it soft enough to cut into appropriate shapes for grilling. The real fun started with my irregularly cut hunks morphing into alien forms which made the whole thing feel more than a cultural and culinary adventure, but an artistic one as well. This made for a science experiment and an ethnic exploration all rolled into one snack.

It won't be my go-to comfort food, but I can definitely appreciate how the warm, chewy, soft balls of dough with a salty-sweet dipping sauce could serve a similar role as a freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie or a hot grilled cheese sandwich, and grilling a mound of mochi is a lot more fun to watch than a slab of cheese melting on bread. 


Friday, March 2, 2012

Semlor for Mardi Gras

Although I grew up in the Scandanavian neighborhood of Seattle, where my family made regular stops at the Scandanavian bakery for holiday treats throughout the year, I'd never heard of semlor until a story on NPR just before Mardi Gras. (Perhaps I had seen them in the bakery cases, but never realized their name or that they are seasonal.) As soon as I heard they are a yeast-risen cardamom bun, I knew I wanted to try making them, as yulekaka, a cardamom bread with dried fruit and raisens is one of my favorite Christmas treats.

The NPR story available here contains great background and overview, along with the recipe I ended up trying. But before I plunged into the flour, I did a little more research, and found this recipe useful for reference as well. I found it interesting, and not entirely explained, that Wikipedia also references these through a spelling of semla.

The only thing I did differently from the recipes was I did not scoop out the insides of the roll... I cut a divot out of the top and spooned in some filling, then replaced the top. I used the NPR suggestion of ground almonds rather than marzipan. By not scraping out some of the center, there was no well for the cream filling to rest, and so it was a little messy to eat, but I liked the texture of the filling (without the added bread crumbs) and they were so puffy and pretty with their tummys of bulging cream...

I ended up only having enough colored sugar to decorate a dozen rolls, so those were all I fillled; the rest I put in the freezer uncut/unfilled, and will probably ice them with a bit of glaze, and maybe dot with some sliced or chopped almonds before serving. I love the warm sweetness of cardmom and these will be a wonderful treat to pull out on short notice. The extra whipped cream-almond filling was excellent on cookies and just by the spoonful out of the bowl. Somehow the almonds stablized the whipped cream so that it held it's texture without separating for over a week in the fridge.