Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Amaretto butter cakes + "Argo"

Amaretto butter cakes / Bolinhos de Amaretto

Years ago I watched a good movie called “Gone Baby Gone” which to my surprise had been directed by Mr. Ben Affleck; he’d never been one of my favorite actors, but since I’d been pleased with his directorial debut and had also liked his performance in “Hollywoodland” I thought that watching “The Town” was mandatory – and what a great film that turned out to be, with an insanely good performance by Jeremy Renner, an actor I like a lot (and those who think of him just as Hawkeye should watch this movie, “North Country” and “The Hurt Locker”).

Two weeks ago I watched “Argo” and understood all the fuss about Affleck’s new movie: it really is an excellent film, with a great story I believe not many people knew about (I certainly did not). Affleck’s abilities as a filmmaker have been improving and he continues to let the actors shine – to me something that every director should do; the clothes, the hair and makeup, the places, the music, everything seems so perfectly crafted. And to top it all off he gives the movie a frantic rhythm, one in which every scene has a purpose and nothing is wasted, one that will get the muscles on your body tense with anticipation and without noticing you’ll be holding your breath (I speak from experience). :)
The awards season starts soon and I would be very glad to see “Argo” receive the recognition it deserves – and I hope Affleck continues to work as a director for many years to come.

Ever since using Amaretto in baking for the first time I’ve been looking for excuses to do it again and again: I’ve used it to replace almond extract a couple of times with really good results and it goes well with chocolate, too. That is why I was so curious about these cakes and they did not disappoint: you can really feel the liqueur flavor in them and they are very tender, with a crunchy touch given by the almonds. They’re delicious plain, with no icing at all – and especially moreish still warm from the oven – but I wanted more Amaretto flavor and topped them with a simple glaze made with the liqueur.

Amaretto butter cakes
slightly adapted from CakeLove in the Morning: Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Pancakes, Waffles, Biscuits, Frittatas, and Other Breakfast Treats

1 ¼ cups (175g) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
pinch of ground cinnamon
½ cup sour cream*
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
85g (¾ stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ tablespoons Amaretto
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole almonds, toasted, cooled and coarsely chopped
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

1 cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon Amaretto
1 tablespoon water, more if necessary

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour twelve 1/3-cup capacity brioche or muffin pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the yolk – beat well after each addition and scrape the sides of the bowl. Beat in the Amaretto and vanilla.
At low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fold in the almonds.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 2 minutes then unmold onto a wire rack – do not wait longer than that or the cakes might stick. Cool completely.

Glaze: sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl. Add the Amaretto and mix to combine. Gradually add the water and stir until desired consistency. Pour icing over cakes. Set aside until set, about 20 minutes.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Makes 12


pam said...

Those butter cakes look so good and I LOVED Gone Baby Gone!

Sara said...

I also really loved Argo...although I have to admit I did not realize it starred Ben Affleck until the credits rolled! I am so bad at identifying actors. :) Those little cakes look fantastic!

Laura (Tutti Dolci) said...

Gorgeous little butter cakes, I love the amaretto glaze!

Melissa@Julias Bookbag said...

I can't WAIT to see Argo!! (and try these enchanting little cakes, I love anything with almond!!)

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