I know it is all kinds of contrary to dive into the middle of pumpkin pie season with an alternatively spicy dessert, but if you haven't figured out that I am contrary by nature this must be your first visit to my blog. I also happen to think that the masala for a delicious sweet cup of masala chai is quite a lot nicer than the standard blend for pumpkin pie spice, with pepper to give it kick and cardamom rounding out the aroma. Anyway, as an alternative to other spicy cakes, these friands are slightly spicy, beautifully buttery and not too sweet, perfect after dinner with a glass of dessert wine, mid afternoon with a glass of mulled wine or mid morning with a cup of tea. Or glass of wine. Drink it while you can.
Masala Chai Friands (makes 12 large & 16 mini friands)
1 1/2 tsp masala*
120g plain flour
380g icing sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
200g ground almonds
9 eggwhites (or 240ml pasteurised liquid eggwhite)
2tbs chopped stem ginger (preserved in syrup)
Preheat the oven to 210C.
Melt the butter. Use some of it to thoroughly grease your friand tins (or muffin/cupcake tins, if you don't have friand tins), then add the spices to the remaining butter and allow to infuse while you get on with the rest of it. The aromatics in these spices are fat-soluble, so you will get more flavour carried through the friands if you allow them to sit in the butter for a while.
Combine the sifted flour and icing sugar in a large bowl, then stir in the lemon zest and ground almonds.
Beat the eggwhites until slightly frothy then mix them into the dry ingredients and mix in the spiced butter. Fold through the chopped ginger.
Spoon into the prepared tins, filling them about 2/3 full. I like to use a Chinese soup spoon for this sort of thing; I feel like I make less mess.
Bake the large ones for 15 minutes at 210C, then reduce the temperature to 200C (rotate the trays at this point if you need to in order to get an even bake) and cook for another 10 minutes. Then remove and bake the small ones for 10-15 minutes at the lower temperature, or until slightly risen and nicely browned.
Cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning onto wire racks to cool completely.
*for my masala I used Schwartz whole spices - 1 stick of cinnamon, the seeds of 9 cardamom pods, a few cloves, a small piece of nutmeg and some peppercorns, ground in a spice grinder. You could also use ground spices, but I wanted the little flecks of imperfectly powdered cinnamon scattered through the friands. If I was making this to use in masala chai I'd normally add ground ginger as well, but I left it out because of the stem ginger - I didn't want the ginger to dominate!