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Paul has definitely created his own cuisine and food vocabulary. He combines traditional and modern techniques, always with great aesthetics. Cataluña N.22 spice blend is my reflection on Spain's Catalan cuisine, which blends sweet and savory components. This dish is a good example: Is it a sweet hors d'oeuvre or a savory dessert? I'll let you decide.
Makes about 3 dozen
Paul Liebrant, Corton, from "The Art of Blending" by Lior Lev Sercarz
1 pound piquillo peppers, seeded and drained (about 12 peppers)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 egg whites
1 cup blanched sliced almonds, ground into a fine powder in a coffee or spice grinder
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Cataluña N.22 spice blend, divided
6 ounces chèvre or other fresh goat's-milk cheese
Make the piquillo-pepper purée: Place the piquillo peppers in a blender with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, Piment d'Espelette, maple syrup and vinegar and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and set aside.
Make the brown butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat while stirring with a wooden spoon. Bring the butter to a simmer and cook until it turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 6 to 8 minutes; be careful not to let the butter burn. Pass the brown butter through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and set aside.
Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer or with an electric handheld mixer until soft peaks form. Sift the powdered almond flour, confectioners' sugar, all-purpose flour, and the remaining teaspoon salt into a bowl and fold in the egg whites. Fold in the brown butter. Fold in 1/2 cup of the piquillo pepper purée and 2 tablespoons of the Cataluña. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
In a mixing bowl, blend the goat cheese with the remaining pepper purée and the remaining tablespoon of Cataluña and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a financier baking mold or mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fill the molds three-quarters full with the batter. Bake for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the financiers comes out clean. Remove the financiers from the molds and let cool. Serve with the goat-cheese spread.