The bergamot season is relatively short, so you need to snap them up when you see them. These tiny delicate morsels seem innocent due to their size, but they certainly pack a punch flavour-wise. If you can’t find bergamots, or they are out of season, simply use a large lemon
75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
125g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
125g unsalted butter, diced, plus extra, melted, for greasing
1 tablespoon clear fragrant honey
finely grated zest of 1 bergamot
finely grated zest of 1 mandarin
3 large egg whites
a pinch of fine sea salt
For the bergamot syrup
juice of 1 bergamot
juice of 2 mandarins
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2–3 x 12-hole mini muffin tins or 12-hole muffin tin
makes 36 mini muffin-sized cakes
Preheat the oven to 180¼C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease the muffin tins with melted butter and dust with a little flour, tapping out the excess.
Sift the flour, ground almonds, icing sugar and baking powder onto a sheet of baking parchment.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, then cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to smell nutty and turns a deep golden brown, swirling the pan to ensure that it browns evenly. Pour into a bowl, add the honey and zests and leave to cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they will hold soft peaks. Add the sifted dry ingredients and fold in using a large metal spoon. Pour the melted butter around the edge of the bowl and carefully fold into the batter, being careful not to knock out too much air. Fill three-quarters of each muffin tin hole and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 10 minutes until well risen and golden brown.
Meanwhile, combine all the syrup ingredients plus 5 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and set over a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until reduced by half.
Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 2 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Brush the warm cakes with the syrup and leave until cold.