Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Combine in a small saucepan:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved
In 2009, I was fortunate enough to spend six months in the beautiful Loire Valley in France. For a food-lover, this experience was absolutely intoxicating. On nearly every street corner there was a small boulangerie or patîsserie, and each time the doors opened the warm, yeasty aroma of fresh bread and pastries billowed past.
Of course, in the span of six months, I learned which boulangerie sold the best baguette, the best croissant aux amandes, the best sandwich. There was one boulangerie in particular that had my allegiance when it came to their fruit tarts. With the most superb, buttery crusts, the most well-balanced fillings, and a simple streusel topping, these tarts soon became my Friday treat. My favorite happened to be a pistachio raspberry tart with a deep green filling tempered by bright raspberries. I had never thought of this combination of flavors, but it proved to be absolutely ideal, producing a dessert that was not only visually stunning but intensely flavorful.
Those incredible tarts took their toll, and I came home from France with hips. Who knew that butter was capable of such things! It was worth it, though, and once back in the states, restored, more or less, to my original size, I began to crave those tarts once more. Hence, the following recipe.
These cakes are delightful warm, room temperature, or chilled. In any case, they are best served with a small dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray six 6-ounce ramekins with cooking spray and set aside. In a food processor, finely grind:
½ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
2 eggs, room temperature
Process until smooth. Add:
½ cup all-purpose flour
Pulse until flour is just moistened. Divide batter between ramekins (there will be about ¼ cup batter per ramekin), and sprinkle with:
1 cup fresh raspberries
Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until firm but still slightly wet in the center, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.