It seems that Summer, what we had of it anyway, has finally left us and the days now start with that touch of crispness and scent of decaying foliage that heralds the beginning of Autumn. In an effort to wring out the last of that summer warmth I’m sharing this recipe that I created for a rather fun #cakeandcocktailfriday; a whole evening dedicated to, yes you guessed it, eating cake and drinking cocktails with friends, organised for the sole purpose of indulgence.
I first stumbled across Kammerlings on Twitter, subsequently bought myself a bottle around the beginning of Summer, and haven’t looked back since. A new spirit created by Alex Kammerling, pitched somewhere between gin and Campari; made in a similar way to gin, it contains 45 botanicals, including that all important gin ingredient of juniper berries, but it’s most dominant flavours are that of ginseng, grapefruit peels and manuka honey. On my first sip I declared it a herbal negroni and I’ve been drinking it neat over ice with a twist of lemon ever since. At just 33% it’s not as strong as gin and with all those herbal flavours needs nothing added to that quite medicinal mix, making it the perfect, simple aperitif for a balmy Summer evening.
With all the Australian coffee shops around selling, amongst other delectibles, the quintessentially Antipodean baked treats, friands, you’d think it would be easier to get hold of a tray to bake the little things in. After much searching I bought myself a miniature version from Nisbets at the recomendation of @supercharz who also pointed me in the direction of a reiable recipe courtesy of Waitrose which I’ve used here but reduced by two thirds. I’ve since found full sized versions online but I actually love the dainty size of these, designed almost purely with cocktail parties and afternoon tea in mind.
I’ve been playing around with the strawberry and basil combination for a while; the two seem to go hand in hand to create a flavour snapshot of our hottest season. At first I’d planned to make a sorbet but never got around to first buying myself an ice cream machine, and then making space in my minute freezer, so that will have to wait till next year. So when we decided upon an evening dedicated to celebrating both cake and cocktails, it seemed like the perfect oportunity to create a pairing to showcase those heady flavours; I found the addition of Kammerlings to the strawberries really brought out the floral nature of the cakes without making them taste too boozy.
I paired the miniature friands with a cocktail based on the classic Aviation, replacing the gin with Kammerlings and the lemon with ginger ale to further enhance all those herbal qualities.
1 measure Kammerlings
half a measure Maraschino
half a measure violet liqueur (I used Benoit Serres)
1 measure ginger ale
Pour all of the ingredients minus the ginger ale into a cocktail shaker, shake well and pour into a chilled glass loaded with ice, top up with the ginger ale and serve.
For the Strawberry and Basil Friands
60g melted butter
2 medium egg whites
75g icing sugar
25g plain flour
40g ground almonds
For the frosting and candied basil leaves:
Start by marinading your strawberries; chop them into little pieces, tip into a small container and pour over enough Kammerlings to cover and leave overnight ideally.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, place a baking tray in the centre of the oven and brush the holes in your friand tray generously with melted butter. Mash your now marinated strawberries until they’re of a fairly smooth consistency.
Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until frothy, next sift over the flour and icing sugar, then the ground almonds, strawberry mixture, and finally pour in the melted butter, folding all the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.
Spoon the mixture into the holes, filling them about two thirds full. Place the tray on the preheated baking tray and bake for around 10 minutes until the friands are lightly golden and risen. Leave to cool before unmoulding.
My recipe for the frosting is a little more vague I’m afraid….I started with a good dollop of mascarpone and then poured in icing sugar, adjusting quantities of each until I had a consistency I was happy with. The first batch was made with basil infused icing sugar, this I made by mixing some bruised basil leaves into a sealed cotainer of icing sugar for around a week and then mixing a little of the leaves chopped into the final frosting. This had a far more subtle flavour and looked prettier but I wanted something with a bit more punch to go with my cocktails, so I ground fresh basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, which I then mixed with mascarpone and icing sugar giving that vibrant green frosting.
The candied basil leaves are made simply by reserving the prettiest and smallest basil leaves, dipping them in a beaten egg white, then icing sugar and leaving to harden.