The container of melted butter was carefully placed onto the kitchen bench. The creaky timber swing door opened and a whispered voice said "Do you need this?"
I was first introduced to these buttery, almond meal delights at the café I worked at when we first moved to Rye after an incredible adventure around Australia, which lasted almost 3 years! It was my first foray into baking and cooking for paying customers. To say I was full of nerves would have been an understatement! The owners allowed me to spend more of my time out the back - stirring, rolling and mixing a myriad of sweet and savoury concoctions instead of making copious amounts of coffee, and for that I was very grateful.
I loved my time in this space. I wasn't quite in the main kitchen, where all the action happened, instead out in the very back room where the dishes would pile up and the delivery drivers would enter through the door with trolleys full of produce. I would wander into my own little world, poking my head around the corner through the doorway every now and then to check that I wasn't needed out the front. It was then back to mixing and stirring.
The first time I made friands I remember being slightly alarmed at just how much butter was involved! They really are so very easy to make and that butter definitely makes them better. Yes, there was a time back in the days of A Mini Kitchen "the café" that the whispered voice wasn't heard and there was no container of melted butter sitting on the kitchen bench. You see, the microwave was located out the front, under the counter to heat up the pies, sausage rolls and any sweet treats that needed a little "hug" to warm them up. It wasn't until I was taking them out of the oven that I noticed they looked a little different. Not thinking much of it, I went about taking them out of their tins and placing them on the cooling racks. But something just wasn't right. It was then that someone came into the kitchen with the container of melted butter...….
Oh dear! I did in fact forget to add in said butter and a friand is not a friand without it! We all had a laugh and I set about making yet another batch. This time the butter was most definitely not forgotten and I don't think it ever was again. Those friands didn't go to waste though, hardly anything went to waste in that kitchen. With both my dad and my husband being the sweet tooths that they are, even the brownie offcuts were fair game. Wrapped up tight and tucked into Ben's lunch box to enjoy for his smoko.
It had been a while since I had made these little gems. Not since the sale of the café had I stirred that buttery mixture. It wasn't until I had seen a few different posts appear on Instagram that I was reminded of them. I am so happy they did. Using Katie Quinn Davies recipe as a guide. I used to love nothing more than coming up with endless flavour combinations to tempt our customers tastebuds every day. As soon as I started making them again these ideas came flooding back.
So, I thought I would share these with you. A rather lovely combination of Mandarin, poppy seed and pine nut.The mandarins have been so beautifully sweet and juicy this season and I was really happy with how these little guys turned out. They make the perfect little treat to accompany a cup of tea and also make for a wonderful edible gift too. Placed neatly into a pretty box, tied with twine and left on the doorstep of a dear friends home. You could also freeze any that did happen to be left over. They freeze really well and make for a good back up for those times when you need a little sweet treat, simply bring them back to room temperature or, if you have one, a quick little zap in the microwave will do the trick. As always, they are best enjoyed on a pretty floral china plate.
This little man has had his fair share of sweet and juicy mandarins! He sat there, in his pram, after having been crawling around in the dirt eating one segment after the other (stealing my props!) the sticky juice running down his arms and the biggest cheesiest smile on his face.
Mandarin, poppy seed & pine nut friands
10 Free-range egg whites
300g unsalted butter, melted
175g almond meal
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
370g icing sugar, sifted
100g gluten free flour (or plain flour) sifted
2-3 mandarins, peeled and segmented, removing any pips
1/4 cup pine nuts
Preheat your oven to 180c and lightly grease with softened butter your friand tins. You will need 18 holes in total. If you only have 12, the remaining mix will sit quite happily on the bench while the others bake and you can then spoon this in when you have a spare tin.
Lightly whisk the egg whites until its just beginning to create bubbles. Add in the almond meal, poppy seeds, icing sugar and flour, the zest of one mandarin and the melted butter. Stir well to combine everything together.
I use an ice-cream scoop to make it easier to get an even amount of mixture into each hole, but you could just use a spoon too. pop a mandarin segment on each one and scatter over the pine nuts and perhaps a little extra poppy seeds too.
Place into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they have turned a lovely shade of golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Let them sit in their tins for 10 minutes before carefully running a knife around the edge of each one to loosen. place them onto a cooling rack. They are delicious eaten straight away, still warm from the oven.