I have been on the edge of my desk chair for weeks, waiting for just the right moment to share this little stunner with you.
This is a multifaceted dessert, so we will begin one step at a time. Cake is always a solid launching pad.
These cakelets derive much of their unique and ridiculously scrumptious character by way of a heavy dose of extra virgin olive oil.
Up until several weeks ago, olive oil cake had yet to make it into my repertoire. Clearly, I had no idea what I was missing. A new favorite has been found.
While most home-baked cakes are fattened with butter, these cakes rely on olive oil, which leads to an incredibly moist cake. If you think about it, the situation makes a whole lot of sense. Butter is solid at room temperature, oil is not. This simple fact leads to great things when it comes to cake-making. While butter-fattened cakes can quickly become dry and crumbly after a day on the counter, olive oil-based cakes remain moist and delicate because their fat is still in its liquid state. Capisce?
Whew, that got a little heady, thanks for hanging with me.
The other components of the cake sidle-up alongside the extra virgin liquid gold to add subtle notes of fragrant almond and bright lemon. They are faint, and barely distinguishable individually, but the trio results in the most lovely, palate-tickling balance.
Aside from their amazingly delicate interior and perfectly springy flavor profile, these cakelets boast the most wonderful crunchy/sugary exterior. The cakelet pan is coated with a heavy sprinkling of sugar that will caramelize as the cakes bake, giving them crisp, golden edges.
Now, we must address the garnish situation. We are essentially going to be making cake jewelry.
These cakes are so soft and so delicate that they deserve a little extra beautifying.
Sugared rosemary is one of the simplest, yet most impressive garnishes you will ever make.
Rosemary sprigs are coated in a quick, simple syrup and then tossed around in a bit of granulated sugar. Fancy has never been so easy.
Now that we have our garnish and our cakelets (which, if you can muster up some restraint, will be left to rest overnight) we can address the sorbet situation.
This sorbet could absolutely be dessert on its own. It is so tart and refreshing.
After the sorbet base has been chilled and churned, it is time to assemble.
A tiny cake, crisp and golden.
A scoop of soft, herby sorbet.
And rosemary bling to finish.
Yep, we are good.
OLIVE OIL CAKELETS WITH ROSEMARY-LIME SORBET
Since both the cakelets and sorbet need to be prepared a day in advance, this is a great make-ahead dessert. Prepare these two components the night before you plan to serve for super easy assembly the day of!
FOR THE CAKELETS
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
- 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for pan
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons amaretto
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided use + extra for sprinkling
Cook's Note: Cakelet pans are available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. The pan I used for this recipe is a nonstick pan with 8oz cavities. A pan this size will produce eight 8oz cakelets. However, you could certainly use a standard nonstick muffin pan in a pinch. Just be sure to keep a close eye on the cakes as this will decrease the bake time by several minutes. You may also need a bit more sugar for the pan and topping since the smaller cavities will lead to a greater number of cakelets.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and coat your cakelet pan with an even layer of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle each cavity with an even layer of granulated sugar and tap the pan to shake out any excess.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. In a separate bowl, combine amaretto, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
Combine eggs, lemon zest, and remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a large, clean bowl and beat with an electric mixer until thick and pale yellow in color. The mixture should fall off of the beaters in ribbons. This should take 3-5 minutes.
With the mixer on high speed, gradually beat in 1 1/4 cups olive oil. Reduce the speed and begin incorporating the flour and amaretto mixtures, adding in one-third increments, and alternating between the two until the batter is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and fold several times to ensure that there are no hidden pockets of flour.
Carefully divide the batter amongst the eight cavities and sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes; until the tops are crisp and golden and skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing the cakes from the pan. Wrap the cakelets in plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature overnight.*
*Cook's Note: While this waiting period is not absolutely necessary, the cakes will greatly improve in flavor and texture after they have had a day to rest. The rewards are well worth the wait.
FOR THE SORBET
recipe adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped from stems
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 large egg white
- 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 tablespoon lime zest
Combine granulated sugar and rosemary in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse until the rosemary is finely chopped. Transfer the sugar to a small saucepan and stir in water. Place the pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, then increase heat and bring the syrup to a boil. Boil for one minute, then remove from heat.
In a large, clean bowl, beat egg white with an electric mixer until frothy - about 10 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, slowly stream in the hot syrup. Increase speed to medium and beat until the mixture cools down slightly. The mixture will be foamy on top.
Strain through a fine mess strainer to remove the rosemary, but do not strain away the egg foam. Rather, use a spatula to press any foam that settles in the strainer back down into the bowl.
Stir in lime juice and zest and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or until very cold.
Prepare the sorbet in an ice cream maker according to your manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze until solid; about 2 hours.
FOR THE SUGARED ROSEMARY
While the other components of this dessert can be made a day in advance, the sugared rosemary should be prepared no more than several hours before you plan on serving.
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided use
- 1 cup water
- 8 sprigs fresh rosemary
Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place 3/4 cup sugar into a shallow bowl.
Combine water and remaining cup of sugar in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil for five minutes; until the syrup has thickened slightly.
Drop the rosemary sprigs into the syrup and boil for thirty seconds. Remove, using a slotted spoon, and drop into the bowl of sugar. Toss to coat, then lay out onto the prepared sheet pan and allow to dry for thirty minutes.