Currently: listening to Etta James on stereo. Wearing a soft, oversized men’s J. Crew sweater in dark hunter green and obscenely comfortable sweatpants. Battling a headache, wondering: Would a glass of wine help or hurt? When the doctor said 'Advil', did he maybe mean to say 'Argentinian red'?
Never mind that. I’m going to put my feet up and pretend this entire city doesn’t exist. Some days I like to do that, between you and me, it’s a fun little trick, no losing our patience here! Just ignore it all!
When someone bumps into you in Fairway in the produce aisle, just act like you didn’t notice and immerse yourself in the string bean choices. Oh, three different varieties of haricot vert? How deeply fascinating. When the woman in front of you at Starbucks insists they remake her drink not one but three times to get it hot enough, thus delaying your own coffee intake, busy yourself by counting to ten in German in your head (I can only get to three, making this is a very challenging exercise).
Then return to your apartment. Put on Christmas music. Light some candles. In fact, turn on the twinkly lights on the world’s tiniest tree that you bought last night. Find a good book — don’t read it yet! Instead, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together 2 egg whites with a pinch of salt until foamy. Melt some butter in a saucepan, swirling it around as it starts to smell nutty and bits of brown settle in the pan. Just before you burn it (Oh, shit. You burned it? You really did?!! Kidding. Start again.), set it aside to cool.
A little almond flour, sugar, and vanilla goes into another bowl. Add some AP flour. Fold in the egg whites — gently, gently! Treat them as you would a very soft, squishy baby. Into that (the batter, not the imaginary baby), pour that lovely brown butter. Murmur under your breath “yikes, yikes” when it floods the bowl. Just keep stirring and folding, eventually it’ll come together, restoring your faith in the small, solid act of baking.
Spoon your batter into a silicone mold. Oh, you don’t have those. Okay. Hm, cast around for a replacement. Oh! Butter a muffin cup. That’ll do. Eye the batter critically…not quite interesting enough. Thumb through a cookbook only to realize you really should have topped each little cake with a fresh raspberry, but of course you don't have those sitting around because this isn't a g-d Barefoot Contessa episode, it's a Wednesday afternoon in your life. Plop a pistachio on some of them, sprinkle cacao nibs on the rest. Bake them. (You can read your book now). Ten minutes later, they emerge — little domed cakes with perfect golden edges.
Eat one after dinner, slowly, peeling off the crunchy sides first and saving the dense, moist interior for last. Now think: When did you last remember that there is a world outside, full of crammed streets and honking cabs and newspaper headlines? You can’t recall — and that’s a little bit of magic to keep in your back pocket.
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup almond meal or almond flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites with the salt until foamy.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter, swirling the pan constantly, until it starts to brown and smell nutty. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, almond flour, AP flour, and vanilla. Once it is smooth, fold in the egg whites gently.
Pour the brown butter into the batter and fold it in. It'll look far too runny at first, but just keep folding and folding until it gets fully incorporated.
Spoon the batter into silicone muffin molds or a silicone financier mold. If you don't have either, just grease some muffin papers or mini muffin papers really well. Top each one with something fun: a raspberry, a pistachio, an almond. I used cacao nibs which I love, love, love for the texture and the taste.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until very deep golden brown and crispy looking on the edges.
Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then peel off the papers. Eat! They are also very, very good frozen.