Almond Basket with Blueberry Sauce

As someone who has yet to take a formal baking or pastry class, I tend to shy away from attempting a lot of breads, desserts, and other sweets. However, when my family’s favorite restaurant recently closed their doors after decades of serving the Charlotte market, they also took away our favorite dessert – an almond basket with cinnamon ice cream, fresh raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, and homemade whipped cream. In order to keep the entire family from going through withdrawal, I decided to take a stab at creating my very own almond basket. After reviewing numerous recipes online, I thought I had the gist of it. In order to be safe, however, I decided to pretty much double the quantities of ingredients called for in many recipes, just in case I messed up a few of my first attempts (which, I did…see below).

But once I got the hang of making the almond baskets, they were pretty straight-forward. Thrilled with my results, I continued making almond baskets like a mad-woman, until at one point, I looked at my kitchen table, and counted 26 almond baskets. At that point, I decided to drop the spatula and slowly back away from my oven. I am now trying to find new and creative uses for almond baskets – I think my best idea so far is “edible yarmulke.” Better go to the patent office first thing tomorrow morning.

But I digress…

An almond basket can be served 1,000 ways. I had some blueberries in the fridge, so I decided to make a sauce that my Advanced Culinary professor taught us, and simply serve it over some vanilla bean ice cream. Fresh Raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries would all be great additions to this dessert. This dessert has a great presentation, is delicious, and will wow your guests, no matter what the occasion. Give it a try – you will be surprised how easy it is to make almond baskets!!

Almond Basket with Blueberry Sauce (scroll down for blueberry sauce recipe)

Almond Basket (yields 8 – 4 ½” baskets)
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. heavy cream
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet/sheet pan with parchment paper; set aside. Gather several bowls of similar diameter and place them near your work area to use as molds for the baked almond rounds. The bowls I used were about 4 ½” diameter, but you can use any size you have on hand.

Combine almonds, butter, sugar, flour, heavy cream, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small sauce pan over low heat. Stir until the butter and sugar have melted, then remove from heat. The batter should be off-white/pale yellow in color.

Using a tablespoon, drop the batter onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Leave about 4” between each drop of batter, as it will spread out quite a bit during the cooking process. If you use approximately 1 Tbsp of batter per round, you will end up with approx eight 4.5” basket.

Right before going into oven:

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes, or until bubbly and golden-brown.

When the rounds are this color, remove from oven:

While the rounds are in the oven, invert the 4 bowls (to use as molds) on your work station. After the rounds have finished cooking, remove them from the oven. Let the rounds cool just until they begin to harden around the edges, then carefully but quickly transfer each round to your molds. To form a basket, drape one round over each of the bowls that were previously set aside, being sure to press each part of the round against the bowl, so that it will take the shape of the bowl while it cools. **This batter will harden very quickly, so it is imperative to transfer the rounds to the bowls as soon as you are able to handle the mixture without tearing it or burning yourself**

You may need to practice on a couple of the rounds before you get the hang of it – this is what happens if you try to transfer a round to the mold before it has set up enough:
FAIL:

The almond baskets will harden fairly quickly. After the baskets have cooled (it only takes a couple of minutes), transfer them to parchment paper to hold, if you will be using them the same day. If you are preparing the rounds ahead of time, they can be stored for up to 2-3 days in an airtight container.

To serve: Fill almond basket with vanilla bean ice cream, top with blueberry sauce, and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately.

*Alternative fillings/toppings: ice cream, sorbet, fresh berries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fruit sauce, caramel, fresh berries, chocolate candies, etc.

Blueberry Sauce (yields about 1 quart)**
recipe courtesy of Chef Tessia Harman

1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups water
½ cup orange juice
1 ½ tsp. orange zest
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (remove stems – – only use the leaves) (optional)
2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier (optional)
1 Tbsp butter

Method:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, water, orange juice, orange zest and cornstarch to a boil.

Add 1 cup of berries, fresh thyme leaves (opt.) and Grand Marnier (opt.).

Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly (about 10 minutes).

Add remaining berries and cook 5 more minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in butter until dissolved, and serve. Can be served hot or cold, and can be refrigerated for up to a week.

**Can be served with a wide variety of foods, including pancakes, waffles, French toast, ice cream, sorbet, cheese cake, angel food cake, pound cake, etc.

Tips:

-It is not necessary to grease the outsides of the bowls that you will use as the molds for the baskets – the butter in the almond batter recipe keeps the batter from sticking.

-I recommend baking 3-4 rounds at a time. While baking, the batter spreads out much more than one would think. Making batches of 3-4 at a time batch prevents over-crowding on the cookie sheet, which causes the batter to run together. It also allows you to transfer each of the rounds to the molds before the remaining rounds harden on your work station.

-You may need to adjust the amount of batter you use to make your rounds depending on the diameter of the bowls you have.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Dessert, fruit

One Comment on “Almond Basket with Blueberry Sauce”

  1. Melanie Says:

    We had almond baskets with ice cream on a recent cruise where we were invited to dine with the captain. It was my mission when we got home to recreate that delicious dessert. Thank you so much for this great recipe and all the tips and pictures. I made your baskets and they turned out delicious and perfect! I can’t wait to serve them to my guests tomorrow..!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: