A cake doesn’t have to be a cupcake just because it is small. Leave off the piles of frosting and the colorful wrapper and you have an individually sized dessert that is a simple, elegant way to finish off a dinner with family or friends. These little Macadamia Nut Cakes are definitely not cupcakes, but they sure are tasty. The recipe is a riff on one of Jacques Pepin’s cake recipes, which is included in his cookbook, More Fast Food My Way. He used almonds in his version and says that they’re a very simple, very french dessert. My version of these cakes uses buttery macadamia nuts. I love these nuts in just about everything that you could put them in, but in these cakes they add a lot of body and richness to what is an incredibly simple cake.
When I say simple, I mean it. These cakes have just a handful of ingredients and are whipped up in seconds in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you could try using almond meal (ground macadamia nuts would be very difficult to find in most places), but you’ll really get the best results when starting with whole nuts. The finished cakes are light, fluffy and tender. They have a great overall macadamia nut flavor, with bright notes of lemon and a hint of rum. The cakes aren’t too sweet, and while they’re tasty as-is, they pair very well with fresh berries, whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream. Since I added lemon zest into my cake batter, I topped these cakes off with a dollop of lemon curd and a twist of lemon to dress up the presentation.
If you’re not going to serve these cakes right away – and they can be served warm if you do want to serve them immediately, although they will come out of the wrappers more cleanly if you allow them to cool – you can make them a day ahead and store them in an airtight container before dressing them up. The recipe can be doubled if you want to serve a crowd, but also be halved for an even smaller serving if, like me, you just want to treat yourself once in a while.
Lemon Macadamia Nut Cakes
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole, toasted macadamia nuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp rum
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with 8 paper liners.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, macadamia nuts, sugar and baking powder and whizz until everything is well blended and the macadamia nuts are ground. Add in eggs, lemon zest and rum and pulse to combine. Batter should be smooth. Add in melted butter and pulse several times to incorporate.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, the remove paper liners and invert onto a plate to serve.
Serve with fresh berries, ice cream or lemon curd.