Hazelnuts, Seville Oranges and Truffle Honey

21 January 2009

It’s been a cold winter in the UK – everyone seems getting flu including this girl who has just moved here from California. I’ve been shooting outside a lot for the last couple of months and although I’m fairly used to the cold as I’m originally from the north of Japan, I now have chilblains all over my feet and they started spreading to my hands too – I think it’s time for me to get some serious shoes, socks and gloves!

Between those shoots, I was doing some Christmas shopping at this small, but wonderful Italian deli called Vallebona in London – I’ve been fortunate to work with them since last year and it’s been a pleasure to get to know them personally too. It is run by Stefano Vallebona, who is originally from Sardinia, and his Japanese wife Naoko – they import specialised artisan products from Italy and supply many of the top London restaurants as well as selling some of them online.

Vallebona was originally started in Sardinia by Stefano’s great grandfather more than a century ago – they no longer operate in Sardinia, but Stefano set up here in the UK about ten years ago to follow his passion for good produce and his family tradition. (I’m planning a trip to Sardinia this year and I’m already excited about it :))

They don’t have a ‘shop’ as such but they have weekly tasting events at their warehouse. I strongly recommend visiting there if you are near Wimbledon – they offer generous samples and I can assure you that you can’t leave there empty-handed, their cheeses and charcuterie selections are especially excellent.

I brought back some white truffle honey and oil, among other gorgeous goodies, this time. I love truffles, but unfortunately my life doesn’t often let me indulge in extravagant meals with freshly shaved truffles – so using truffle infused products is the next best thing for me. Truffle oil has been a regular ingredient for me for quite some time, but I’ve never used truffle honey for cooking so I was quite excited about it. It’s normally made with acacia honey, which is quite light, and the one I got this time was from Alba in Piedmont, famous for their white truffles. Like other honey, a common way to serve is by drizzling it over some cheese (great on young cheeses) – I must confess that I’m not a big cheese eater (I love fresh, but not so keen on matured), so my interest lay more with desserts, particularly my love for ice cream :)

I remembered the Giorgio Locatelli book had a recipe for truffle honey ice cream – it’s a fantastic (and huge) book by the way, reading it through makes you wish you were born as Italian :) An inspiration came from this super talented girl as usual – I was instantly sold by the idea of pairing it with hazelnuts. As Joycelyn wrote, the Locatelli book is very precise in order to preserve the original restaurant quality of the recipes. I appreciate his approach and I will look forward to trying it out sometime – but for now, I’ve adapted the recipe to more suit a home kitchen.

I didn’t want the ice cream to be too strongly flavoured, so I used less honey than it says in the recipe. Even so, it still turned out a little too honey-ey and truffle-y for my taste. So as well as making hazelnuts dacquoise to go with it, I decided to add a citrus flavour too, in the form of a light moist sponge. Of course if you talk about citrus at this time of year, it’s got to be Seville oranges :)

I wasn’t so sure about how everything would work together, but I was very pleased with the result. I absolutely loved the hazelnut & truffle pairing, and the citrus lightened it, balancing out the richer flavours. I loved the fact that all the components were so easy to make too :)

I couldn’t help adding a twist on my honey madeleines also. My favourite madeleine recipe comes from Claire Clark’s Indulge – I’ve tried some elaborate recipes from her book but so far I find I like her simple recipes like shortbread or scones better. The madeleines are delicious on their own, but again, it’s also lovely to add some orange zest and hazelnuts (chopped or ground).

Truffle honey ice cream with hazelnut dacquoise and Seville orange sponge

For the truffle honey ice cream

250ml whole milk
250ml double cream
4 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
20g truffle honey
70g runny honey (light flavoured eg. acacia)

Place the milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Pour the warm milk into the yolks, stirring constantly – then mix both types of honey in.

Place the mixture back in the saucepan and put on a medium heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Strain into a clean bowl, cool over ice-cold water and chill in the fridge. Add the double cream and churn the custard in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

For the hazelnut dacquoise

5 egg whites (about 150g)
50g caster sugar
150g icing sugar
70g ground hazelnuts
30g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 130ºC. Sieve both the nuts and the icing sugar into a bowl and lightly mix.

Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a little at a time whisking as you go; continue whisking until glossy, then gently fold the nuts and sugar mixture.

Using a spatula, spread the mixture onto a baking parchment-lined oven tray, about 7-8mm thick. Level the surface and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until the meringue feels dry. Turn off the oven and leave to cool in the oven.

For the Seville orange and hazelnut sponge

4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
180g caster sugar
150g ground hazelnuts
70g ground almonds
Zest and juice of 1 Seville orange
butter for greasing

For the orange syrup

Zest and juice of 1 Seville orange
30g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 170ºC and butter your chosen mould. Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk until it falls in ribbons (It will help greatly if you have an electric mixer). Gently fold the nuts, orange zest and juice into the batter and pour into the mould and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden – a skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

To make the syrup, place the orange juice, zest and sugar in a saucepan, simmer until slightly syrupy. Cool a little and brush over the warm cake.

You can serve in any way, but I’ve sandwiched the sponge in the dacquoise and sprinkled over some pralined hazelnuts (coat toasted nuts in hot caramel then chop roughly when cool), but plain toasted nuts work fine too. Decorate with some gold leaf and dust some icing sugar on top if you fancy.

Truffle honey madeleines

Makes about 15-20 regular madeleines

90g unsalted butter, plus 15g melted butter for greasing
2 teaspoons truffle honey
2 medium eggs
75g caster sugar
10g light brown sugar
a pinch of salt
90g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Brush the moulds with the melted butter. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl.

Melt the 90g butter and honey in a small pan and cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, place the eggs, both the sugars and the salt. Whisk until pale and nearly tripled in volume, the batter should fall in ribbons. Sift the flour and baking powder mixture into the batter and fold gently; then pour in the cooled melted butter and honey, down the side of the bowl (rather than directly on top of the batter) and gently mix. Cover and rest in the fridge for about an hour.

Spoon the batter into the moulds, it will spread during baking so fill each mould about 2/3 full. Bake for 5-10 minutes depending on your mould size. Take out from the moulds straight after baking. Cool on a wire rack.

Food - Sweet    Places    63 comments    Permalink

  • Hi Keiko, glad that this post come with the recipe too. I don’t have Gorgio Locatelli book, but tempted to buy it. I do too like Claire Clark, and tried some of her recipe, but not the madeleines. Oh by the way, I made poached pear the last week, and steal your idea of browning the pear wiht blow torch. It really give the poached pear different look. More beautiful, I must say. I’m planning to make your Gateau Weekend soon.

    Posted by elra | 21 January 2009 #
  • mmmm truffle honey sounds very decadent, and the pictures are as gorgeous as ever.

    do wrap up well when you go out (i started getting chilblains too and started wearing my gloves and thick socks since, and they’re gone now) and wishing you a very happy new year.


    Posted by Lil | 21 January 2009 #
  • Hello Keiko^^

    Gorgeous photos as always! Truffle honey/hazelnut/Seville orange sounds really intriguing! This will complete the Lunar Chinese New Year Eve dinner^^

    I was just up in Napa and paid Bouchon Bakery a visit. The line was out the door – Claire’s popular shortbread was long gone by the time I got up to the counter but other treats were just as yummy!

    Posted by Venus | 21 January 2009 #
  • stay warm, Happy 2009!

    Posted by kat | 21 January 2009 #
  • Wonderful Keiko. I have the George Locotelli book but have yet to cook any of the recipes. I do use it for inspiration though.

    Posted by barbara | 22 January 2009 #
  • keiko, the sponge cakes look absolutely delicious!!! :)

    Posted by shereen | 22 January 2009 #
  • Great to see your beautiful creations again. They all look absolutely delicious! I love madeleine, and I would love to try this if I can find truffle honey. Stay warm!

    Posted by reiko | 22 January 2009 #
  • Keiko san!

    After I sent my friend a madeleine recipe just now, I stopped by your blog. Then I see madeleine photos! I was excited that I was thinking about same things with you :-D

    What a lovely sweets & photos as always! I have never tried truffle honey before! You always inspire me! Sometimes soon, I like to try your recipe :-) Thank you very much.

    Take care, Keiko san.

    Posted by junko | 22 January 2009 #
  • Dear Keiko,

    Thank you for yet again for another wonderful blog. The madeleines look absolutely decadent. A new blog post from you always makes my otherwise, boring day. Thank you. :)

    Nur Suraya, Malaysia.

    Posted by Nur Suraya | 22 January 2009 #
  • Dear Keiko,
    Your blog and photographs are really, really beautiful. I was wondering, have you changed cameras since you first started this blog? Are you still using a Minolta?

    Again, your pictures are really amazing, its hard to believe you only started three years ago!

    Posted by Yuting | 22 January 2009 #
  • Hi

    I found your website when David Lebovitz posted it in Facebook.

    I really love your photographs – they are gorgeous.

    Posted by Murasaki Shikibu | 22 January 2009 #
  • Been dabbling with madeleines, too. Very rewarding – http://cookingdownunderblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/sweet-sweet-madeleine.html

    I agree with Murasaki – great heads-up from David Lebovitz.

    Cheers from Oz


    Posted by Pat | 22 January 2009 #
  • Fantastic photos as usual. Just such a lovely quality of light – the shots look effortless and beautiful.

    Truffle oil is great isn’t it? I love it on roasted beets, with a sprinkle of salt.

    Posted by matt wright | 22 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko, thanks for posting such beautiful photos! they’re really an inspiration to me and I hope to one day be able to shoot as beautifully as you do. =D stay warm!

    Posted by Erica | 22 January 2009 #
  • Your photographs are a real treat! Excellent work :)

    Posted by murti | 22 January 2009 #
  • Your photos are beautiful as always. I’ve never had madeleines but yours look scrumptious – I think I might try that recipe.

    Posted by Atia | 23 January 2009 #
  • Dear Keiko san,
    Thank you for your wonderful photos! I really enjoy to see your blog. I’m looking forward to next sweets :D

    Posted by Noriko | 23 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko – I’ve just found your blog and love your posts and pictures. I’m a California transplant in London and so very much understand your gripes about the weather.

    Thanks for the Vallebona tip – I’m going to try and get out to Wimbeldon for one of their Saturday tastings in the next few weeks!

    Posted by gastroanthropologist | 24 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko-san, Konnichiwa

    I am looking for molds of madeleines now. I decided to buy this type of molds, not silicon type. Ii shashin!! And thank you for the recipes.

    Posted by yukko | 24 January 2009 #
  • They look fantastic!

    Posted by foody | 24 January 2009 #
  • the photos are gorgeous. and the madeleines look extra yummy!!

    Posted by sofia | 25 January 2009 #
  • Beautiful photos as usual and the recipes sound delicious. I’m getting tempted by a trip south west to visit Vallebona now.

    Posted by Gemma | 25 January 2009 #
  • Great photos! Love the vintage madeleine pan. Where did you get it?

    Posted by cherie | 25 January 2009 #
  • great photos! may i know which camera model are you using?

    Posted by Viona | 25 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko! What a lovely, decadent and elegant post you’ve given to us! Just the combination of names-ingredients sounds fantastic! Spain-France-Italy…mmmm! A Mediterranean fusion that promises to be really gorgeus! Of course, your point of view for the photos makes the rest. Congratulations once more and may this new year of the Ox bring you and your beloved ones hapiness and prosperity. Love xxNat;-)

    Posted by Nat | 25 January 2009 #
  • dearest keiko, what an utterly brilliant composition! – i mean both the flavours (truffle+hazel+citrus) and the pictures, of course! your description and exquisite pictures allow me to almost taste your wonderful creation right off the page…and looking at those lovely madeleines made me re-visit your gorgeous “gateau weekend” from ages ago…isn’t it incredible how quickly time flies?

    Posted by Joycelyn | 25 January 2009 #
  • A lot of Love from Tatina and me.. :)
    How are you dear friend??
    Here in Turin still cold, so cold!
    I love your photos, so poetic and brilliant.

    Posted by sandra | 26 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko san. Your website is very beautiful. Great recipes, wonderful photos. I know you love Truffle Oil and Truffle Honey, but do you realise that all the flavour in these products comes from a chemical called 2,4 dithiapentane, not from truffles ? If you want to know more, please drop me an email.

    Posted by nigel | 26 January 2009 #
  • Hi Kieko,

    You have such a beautiful space here. Such gorgeous photos and wonderful recipes. The truffle honey ice cream sounds amazing! Cheers!

    Posted by lisa (dandysuagr) | 27 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko
    Wow – despite the cold winter temperatures, you’re inspiring me to get out my icecream maker again! Looks incredible.

    Am a huge fan of Locatelli too (the book and the restaurant). Gotta watch out with some of his ingredients list though – there are a few editorial mistakes that could really mess up a recipe!


    Posted by Emily | 27 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    As always beautiful photos and lovely text that are absolutely mouthwatering , just wish u had the time to spoil us with more frequent posts, they are always so uplifting and inspirational

    best rgds from a BIG fan

    Posted by liz | 29 January 2009 #
  • Keiko!

    Look how sweet you are! As lovely as the Prange Blossom honey I’ve been using to make some delightful treats in North London.

    Yes, the flu gets hold of a person here and doesn’t let go. I hope your feet find some cashmere soon… x

    Posted by shuna fish lydon | 30 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Your posts are always so informative, I love it—I always learn something fabulously new when I visit your site. I typically have no interest in baking (I’ll do it, but not often)... but seeing those madeleine photos tempts me to get the molds and make some! Seriously! Thanks for fun photos and fun food. :)


    Posted by Minns | 30 January 2009 #
  • Keiko, this is why I always look forward to your visually wonderful posts!! I can’t stop looking at your photos!! And where did you get the madeleine pans from? I absolutely need something like that to splurge on!! They are divine! I hope to read more posts from you this year!

    Posted by Christy | 31 January 2009 #
  • Hey Keiko,

    Truffle Honey Sounds great, I haven’t heard of it before. The madeleines look fantastic, a nice combination all across the board!

    Posted by Jake | 31 January 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko

    What a wonderful idea – like you, I love truffle honey but have never thought of cooking with it! Beautiful pictures, as always.

    Posted by Jeanne | 31 January 2009 #
  • Hello Keiko, stay away from that flu; I had it last year and will be getting a flu shot from now on. Your photos are again quite inspiring and recipes also. I am a big fan of honey…it is so elemental and of course one of mankind’s very first foods. I love the simplicity of it, it is truly a gift of the gods. Thank you again for your wonderful posts they are always a ray of sunshine no matter what the season.

    Posted by Eleanor van Overdijk | 3 February 2009 #
  • こんにちは、以前にカメラについてコメントをしたのですが、削除されてしまったのでしょうか?(;;)


    Posted by たかぽん | 5 February 2009 #
  • beautiful! im getting hungry now :)

    Posted by marie | 5 February 2009 #
  • Your photos always come out so beautifully. They’re something I aim for with my own photography. I really should get outside more but the lack of outside space in my London flat and north west facing windows leave me taking lots of artificial light shots instead.

    Posted by Joshua Armstrong | 10 February 2009 #
  • super gorgeous madeleines, keiko

    Posted by mochachocolatarita | 11 February 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko

    Wonderful shots and beautiful colour, I love it.
    Lovely madeleines too. They look like having a nice chat on the metal tray. Cute.

    Posted by kitsch-en | 11 February 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko! I follow your posts by more than a year now, and got fascinated by your delicate sense of composing pictures and explanations since the beginning. Please don’t stop! :)

    Madeleines are special food for me as they were for Proust, so I’m very fascinated to read this post published the same day I became a dad…

    I’ll stay here, as a silent and steady reader!


    Posted by Enrico | 13 February 2009 #
  • madeleines…. oh I love them where is my early grey tea..
    K am back in Greece in few weeks…

    Posted by shalimar | 15 February 2009 #
  • Your Madeleines creation is absolutely lovely and I Bet it tastes like little cakes from heaven!

    Posted by Adelina | 17 February 2009 #
  • Fantastic photos! Great recipe for my next party. This site can make bad days a little better. Can I please have some truffle honey ice cream right now? Tell me I CAN! I know it is only 11:00 in the morning!! Yummy!

    Posted by Dreamweaver | 18 February 2009 #
  • Hello, I would just like to inform U, that I published a link to Ur blog among favourities;) Thank U for lovely climate&inspirations!

    Posted by majmilys | 22 February 2009 #
  • What a lovely gift your blog is Keiko, thank you. And I must try the madelaines, I have the tray but have not made them yet. You have inspired me.

    Posted by Karen | 25 February 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I’ve just stumbled across your site – and very happy I did!
    I have just been given a madeleine recipe – and so I’m looking for some pans…........, and on seeing yours I would love some vintage ones. So I was wondering where you got the ones that are used in your photographs?

    kind regards,


    Posted by Vicki Reardon | 27 February 2009 #
  • HI Ms. Keiko !

    i too wonder what ms. Vicki wonders !

    Posted by Corrin | 4 March 2009 #
  • Hello,

    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM!!! YUM!!!. We would like to add it to the Petitchef.com. We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
    enjoy your recipes. Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members and benefit from their exposure on Petitchef.com. To add your site to the Petitchef family you can use http://en.petitchef.com/?obj=front&action=site_ajout_form or just go to Petitchef.com and click on “Add your site”

    Best regards,


    Posted by vincent | 5 March 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Thanks for the info on the truffle honey! I’ve been searching for something like that since arriving in London to make truffle honey ganache for chocolate bonbons. They taste great but need a good truffle honey that does not smell like kerosene.



    Posted by Nicholas Lam | 5 March 2009 #
  • These madelelines look amazing! They are making me hungry. And anything with truffle, well, delicious!

    Posted by A Girl Has To Eat | 5 March 2009 #
  • Absolutely beautiful photos, as always. Your shots are continually an inspiration for us. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Madeleines have always been my favorite little cookie, especially with an afternoon espresso, but I’ve yet to find that “perfect recipe.” This may very well be it. Thanks for sharing your talent and the recipes. Todd.

    Posted by White On Rice Couple | 7 March 2009 #
  • Another set of beautiful photos as always. You are such an inspiration to us in the food blogging world!

    Posted by Chuck | 8 March 2009 #
  • I just came across your website after doing a search for “tea cake recipes” and I’m amazed by the pictures and layout. What a wonderful job you have done on your webpage. The photos are absolutely captivating. Keep up the great work.

    Posted by Harvey Vuong | 13 March 2009 #
  • It’s the truffle honey madeleines that got me. It is pouring out and I just got back from culinary school where I spend the day fabricating chickens. And those madeleines with a strong cup of tea sound like a slice of heaven right about now.


    Posted by CookingSchoolConfidential.com | 14 March 2009 #
  • I was wondering where you got the vintage pans or had any suggestions. Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog.

    Posted by anonymous | 16 March 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko,
    I love madeleines and inherited 2 beautiful moulds from my mother-in-law. I’d been thinking of making madeleines for sometime since she passed away 10 years ago. It’s a pity I never have the chance to taste her madeleines as she’s a very good baker & managed to teach me few recipes… 1 month before her dismissed. I must try out some madeleine recettes soon! Thank you for ‘shaking’ up my memories :-D As usual your photos and write-ups always inspiration to me.

    Posted by pixen | 17 March 2009 #
  • Hi everyone, thank you so much for all your kind notes and I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.

    Venus – I’d love to visit the bakery one day…

    Yuting – I have changed indeed :) I had a Canon 350D for 2 years, then now use a 5D.

    Pat – your madeleines look lovely!

    Yukko-san – the metal ones are definitely better than silicon ones, hope you’ll find one you like!

    Cherie, Christy, Vicki, Corrin, anonymous – I got the mould at a lovely little shop called Mamie Gateaux in Paris (on rue du Cherche-Midi) – it’s run by a French and Japanese couple and they have a cafe next door too.

    Viona – I use a Canon 5D.

    Nat, Sandra – lots of love to your kitties too!

    Nigel – yes I’ve read about it somewhere…

    Emily – I’ve noticed that some of the recipes are not detailed enough too!

    Mindy – I hope I can convince you to bake more… :)

    たかぽんさん – 過去のコメントをチェックしてみたのですが、見あたりませんでした。お返事遅れてしまってごめんなさい。カメラですが、キャノンの5Dを使っています。料理写真には、90mmマクロレンズを使うことがほとんどです。

    Joshua – I understand how difficult it could be to take shots with natural light in the UK especially in winter – using a tripod & remote should help though.

    Enrico – many congratulations! I hope you’re enjoying being a dad…

    Nicholas – truffle honey for chocolate truffles… I’m tempted :)

    Todd – glad to know that you’re an espresso fan too :)

    Pixen – thank you so much for sharing your lovely story – I hope you will enjoy making madeleines just like your mother in law did…

    Posted by keiko | 14 April 2009 #
  • Hey Keiko

    I love your website. Your madeleines are super cute and sound so delicious! My old boss makes them and every now and again I pop in to see him and pick up a delicious box of them.

    Where can you buy the truffle honey? I live down the end of the world in little ‘ol NZ, is there an online retailer?

    Posted by Susie | 17 August 2009 #
  • Keiko san,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe and elegant photography. I travel frequently to Liguria where I have family, and we normally drive up to Alba for wine tasting & piedmontese food. I will now make sure to get some truffle honey on my next visit, thanks for the tip. All the best, Luiz Hara

    Posted by Luiz Hara | 3 September 2009 #
  • I have always wanted to learn how to make madelines and French macaroons. Thanks!

    Posted by Culinary School Guide | 6 January 2011 #

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