When I went Paleo, I thought I would never eat a bee sting pastry again. That was a pretty big blow. Even after I quit Paleo in favor of a more moderate diet, I figured the amount of refined flour and sugar would make it a “sometimes food” at best…and then my favorite baker moved out of town, taking all of her bee stings with her.
For those of you who have never seen one, a “bee sting” is a German pastry, two layers of yeasted cake filled with vanilla custard with a caramelized almond-honey topping. The one I’ve made was an elaborate production, complete with almost burning the custard and having just an awful time splitting the layers. It was a delicious mess, and one I figured I just wouldn’t deal with again.
Until last week, when David Lebovitz posted a recipe for miella, French snack cakes with the same crunchy almond-honey topping. His use of almond flour piqued my curiosity — could I make a gluten-free, even Paleo, version of my all-time favorite pastry?
The answer was yes, I could. And I did, heavily adapting a shortbread recipe from Paleo Comfort Foods and modifying David’s recipe for the topping. The result was a Paleo and gluten-free treat that tastes just as good as my original beesting, if not better. The dryness of the cake had always bugged me just a little, and the shortbread here has nothing short of a fantastic crumb. My hunch was that using all almond flour would complement the flavors of the topping, and I was absolutely right.
This is not vegan, and I’m not sure if it’s possible to make it so. The butter adds so much flavor, and the eggs (as in most Paleo baking) are necessary in order to make the shortbread hold together. However, if you are determined, try two flax eggs instead of the eggs and vegan margarine instead of the butter.
But whatever you do, make this recipe. It will make your whole day — your whole week, I bet — brighter. Cut the squares small if you want, but this is a treat worth eating.
- 1 3/4 cups almond meal (or, take about 2 cups of almonds and process them until the texture of cornmeal)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup butter, cold and sliced
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp honey (I used amber, but regular or even raw would have been fine)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- First, make the crust. If you don’t have almond flour or meal, take two cups of walnuts and throw them in your food processor until they are roughly the texture of cornmeal. Then combine your almond flour with honey, eggs, butter, oil and extract and pulse until very well combined.
- Spread batter evenly into a greased 9×9 baking pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top begins to turn brown in some spots. You may need to stick a few toothpicks in the half-baked batter to deflate “bubbles.”
- Once your crust has baked, make the topping. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat; once melted, add honey, salt and vanilla and stir until smooth. Then, remove from heat and add almonds, stirring with a silicone spatula to coat evenly.
- Spread almond mixture over crust and bake for 12 more minutes. Allow to cool completely, then cut. Serve immediately, if possible — if not, keep covered with plastic wrap and unrefrigerated for three days.