The Flavor Marriage

Last week, I wrote about the New York Time’s most requested recipe ever – “Marian Burros Plum Torte”. That recipe is the ultimate “un-recipe” because you can easily switch up the ingredients to make it your own. Play a little and have fun! Adults can do that, you know.

The torte was so easy and delicious that I wanted to make it again. But this time I wanted to use almond flour and almond extract. Almond flour makes baked goods nutritionally more substantial and adds lovely flavor and texture. Almond extract would intensify the flavor. I had about a dozen miniature peaches but they wouldn’t cover the top if I was going to use my 10” springform pan. What to do? I went about my day then forgot all about my peach conundrum until my friend Don called and told me to look on the front porch. I opened the door and almost tripped over a box of fresh figs. Yay! Problem solved. I get so excited when surprise solutions arrive without any effort from me.

That evening, I made the torte with half tiny peaches and half figs. The torte was incredibly beautiful with its rainbow of ruby red, orange, and yellow hues. For a moment, I felt as if I had jumped off my chair and straight into a Monet painting, the colors were so extraordinary. The torte went into the oven after I sprinkled demerara sugar – big, chunky golden crystals – all over the top. 

Then the Anticipated Moment came. I took a bite of the figs and what a surprise – the flavor combination of fig and almond was pure perfection. Clearly, those flavors love each other. The crust tasted like marzipan (almond candy) and when combined with the figs – well, my world screeched to a halt for a few seconds. If perfect harmony had a taste, this would be it. Next, I tried the peaches. They were good, but not exceptional. Why, I wondered?  Then I remembered one of my favorite books, “The Flavor Bible” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.

The Flavor Bible is a four inch thick dictionary-like book. You can look up almost any food and get a list of foods that compliment it. This book is the perfect culinary reference guide for anyone who wants to cook or bake with un-recipes because it removes the guesswork. After I bought the book, I read it like it was a good mystery novel and couldn’t put it down. Yes, almonds love figs. Peaches, well, not so much. Maybe in a week or two I will get some inspiration and play matchmaker for peaches. After all, I wouldn’t want the peaches to feel lonely, or left out. Stay tuned!