This dessert is all about a startling combination of flavors—apricots, smoky Lapsang souchong tea, chocolate, maraschino liqueur and cream. Every element of this dessert can be made in advance. Chef Holiday Recipes Made EasyPlus: More Dessert Recipes and Tips
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter twelve 1-cup muffin tins and dust with cornmeal. In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cornmeal, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed with all but 1 tablespoon of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, 1 at a time. Then beat in the sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla. Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients.
In a large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until almost firm. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until firm and glossy. Fold one-fourth of the whites into the cake batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.
Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan or pans on a wire rack and let the cakes cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges, then invert the cakes onto the rack and let cool completely.
To serve, spoon 2 1/2 tablespoons of Maraschino Crème Anglaise onto 12 dessert plates and drizzle each with 1/4 cup of the Lapsang Souchong Chocolate Sauce. Set a cornmeal cake in the center and top with the Apricots in Armagnac Syrup.
The cakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 weeks.
Only a rich, fragrant Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise will complement the intense range of flavors from zesty lemon to sweet apricot and smoky bittersweet chocolate.