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As the world watches in horror and terror as the Amazon burns, scientists have made clear that the cause, principally if not entirely, is human activity.
Here in Brazil, that human activity has human names and faces: those of Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president, and his extremist environment minister, Ricardo Salles. They have not merely permitted these devastating fires, but have encouraged and fueled them.
They have done so with a toxic brew of radical ideology, political corruption and banal greed. Put simply, the ongoing destruction of the Amazon is taking place because of policy choices made by those who now rule Brazil.
The magnitude of these fires, and the severity of the dangers they pose to the world, have been widely demonstrated over the last week. As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, the National Institute for Space Research documented that it “had detected 39,194 fires this year in the world’s largest rain forest, a 77% increase from the same period in 2018”.
The raging fires have become so potent that the smoke they generate plunged the western hemisphere’s largest city, São Paulo, into total darkness in the middle of the day on Tuesday. What was particularly shocking about that sudden event was that the Amazonian fires are hundreds of miles away from that city, but have become so dense and overwhelming that they snuffed out light in that distant major metropolis.
To the extent one can locate any silver lining in this literal dark cloud, it is that the cause of these fires are almost entirely manmade, which means they can be stopped with changes in human behavior – specifically, with policy changes by Brazil’s new government.
Bolsonaro’s election victory last November was a shock to the Brazilian political system because, as a congressman for almost 30 years, his retrograde and unhinged views had relegated him to the fringe of politics life. His presence in the congress was regarded by most as a national embarrassment; that he would one day occupy the presidential palace was unthinkable.
But as has happened in numerous other countries in the democratic world, including the US, a series of crises and failures validly attributed to the establishment class have driven large sections of the country’s population into the arms of any self-styled outsider, no matter how demagogic and radical.
Among Bolsonaro’s many extremist views is climate denialism as stubborn and extreme as any prominent world figure, if not more so. He has long dismissed the scientific consensus about climate scenarios as a hoax. And he campaigned on an explicit pledge to exploit – ie destroy – the Amazon, which currently provides 20% of the world’s oxygen and which climate scientists widely regard as the most valuable asset humanity possesses in our increasingly difficult battle to avoid climate catastrophes.
Since his election, Bolsonaro has not only made good on his promises to fundamentally subvert our country’s long-standing commitment to protect the Amazon, but has done so with a speed and aggression that has surprised even his most virulent critics. To be sure, Bolsonaro’s predecessors – including those from the center-left Workers’ Party – have earned their share of valid criticisms from environmentalists for harming the Amazon for industrial gain. But – after just eight moths in office – Bolsonaro’s damage to the world’s greatest rain forest is in an entirely different universe of magnitude.
Deforestation is an affirmative goal of Bolsonaro. That can be achieved by cutting down trees or, more efficiently, by simply burning large areas that Brazil’s agricultural industry wants to exploit. It also means displacing the indigenous tribes that have lived in those forests for centuries: people for whom Bolsonaro has repeatedly expressed contempt. Their displacement from those lands has often been accomplished with violence against environmental activists and indigenous leaders.
Bolsonaro’s choice for his environment minster, Ricardo Salles from the so-called New Party (Partido Novo), exemplifies the radical and even violent anti-environmentalism fueling these fires. Last year, Salles, while serving as a state environmental official in São Paulo, was found guilty of administrative improprieties for having altered a map to benefit mining companies.
He was fined and deprived of his political rights – including his right to seek elected office – for eight years. Bolsonaro evidently viewed these transgressions as a virtue since he announced his selection of Salles to serve in his cabinet a mere three weeks after his conviction.
In 2018, Salles – now the custodian of the Brazilian Amazon – ran for federal Congress with a political ad that displayed bullets from a rifle as his solution for environmental activists, indigenous tribes impeding the destruction of their land, and “leftists”. Salles lost his bid for congress, but was rewarded with a much more powerful position: Bolsonaro’s environment minister.
Bolsonaro and Salles view deforestation as such a pressing priority that they openly despise anyone who seeks to impede it. Earlier this month, Bolsonaro fired a top scientist after he warned the country that deforestation was taking place at an unprecedented and dangerous rate. Last month, when a reporter asked Bolsonaro about the damage being done to the environment by his industrial policies, the president contemptuously told the reporter he should defecate less: “One day yes, one day no.” And, in the face of rising political pressure over the Amazonian fires, he infamously, and baselessly, blamed environmental groups this week for having started them.
The agencies charged with safeguarding the nearly one million indigenous people in Brazil have suffered such severe budget cuts under Bolsonaro that they are now barely functioning. During the campaign, he vowed: “Not one centimetre will be demarcated for indigenous reserves or quilombolas.” In late July, gold miners invaded an indigenous village and one of its leaders was stabbed to death.
All of these dramatic changes have occurred not only from ideology but also political captivity. Along with rightwing evangelicals and supporters of Brazil’s past military dictatorship, Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector is a critical component of the coalition that swept Bolsonaro into office.
Their gamble on Bolsonaro has paid dividends: a huge array of previously banned pesticides has been approved for use this year with virtually no debate or study. One result: the death of 500 million bees in the last three months alone.
Worst of all, deforestation is consuming the Amazon at a horrifically rapid pace. As the New York Times put it this week: “The destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.”
The government agency responsible for monitoring deforestation documented the loss of “1,330 sq miles of forest cover in the first half of 2019, a 39% increase over the same period last year”.
What the world is witnessing is as deliberate as it is dangerous. It is insufficient, and arguably offensive, for already developed and rich western powers which have done so much damage to the planet to simply dictate to Brazil that it must not exploit its resources the way the west has done with such great environmental damage.
But the world also cannot stand by and let the Bolsonaro government destroy the Amazon. In lieu of unilateral decrees that smack of arrogant colonialism, rich industrialized countries who need the Amazon to survive should fund social programs for poor Brazilians who compose a large majority of our supremely unequal country, in exchange for preservation of this vital environmental asset.
Identifying the culprit – Bolsonaro and Salles – is necessary but not sufficient to avert the environmental disaster. The Amazon belongs to Brazil, but the need to save the planet belongs to all of humanity, and all of us must bear this burden collectively.
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Eric Texier Brézème Roussanne, Rhône, France 2017 (from £22.95, Uncorked; Wood Winters; Blanco & Gomez Wine) One of the world’s greatest white wines comes from a French appellation more famous for red wines. Château de Beaucastel’s Roussanne Vieilles Vignes Châteauneuf-du-Pape is also unusual in being made solely from a grape variety, roussanne, which has traditionally been the junior partner in blends with marsanne. Given how absurdly lovely the wine has been whenever I’ve tried it – blossomy-fragrant, and taut with lime and pear when it’s young; waxy-textured and expansive, with nuts, peaches and nougat when it’s old –it seems odd there aren’t many other single-varietal Rhône roussannes around for those of us without £799 for a case of six bottles of white wine (2014 vintage; Berry Bros & Rudd). It’s a puzzle that is only compounded by the quality of another outing for the variety from Eric Texier, which is gorgeously pitched between stone-fruited fleshy richness and pulsating citrussy fluency.
d’Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne, McLaren Vale, Australia 2017 (from £11.95, The Wine Society; Great Western Wine; Noble Green) There’s a hazy, soft-focus quality to the best white wines of the Rhône that is a perfect counterpoint to the region’s spicy reds. It’s not surprising, then, that those regions that have made a success in importing the Rhône’s more celebrated red varietal mix of syrah (aka shiraz), grenache and mourvèdre have also been drawn to the white varieties. Australia is a good example of this: it has proved a home from home for viognier in wines such as Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2016 (£15.49, Flagship Wines), while Victoria’s Tahbilk has become all-but-synonymous with marsanne (£10.50 for the 2017 Nagambie Lakes, The Wine Society). Roussanne is also starting to get its due, usually in blends, but also in solo performances such as d’Arenberg’s lush, full-bodied and exotic-fruited beauty.
Miles Mossop The Introduction Roussanne, South Africa 2018 (£11.50, The Wine Society) Rhône-influenced winemakers in California began to make a name for themselves in the 1980s and the state is an increasingly fertile source for whites made from this set of varieties. Stolpman Vineyards Roussanne, Ballard Canyon 2017 (from £25.95, The Vinorium; Uncorked) makes an attractive case for Californian roussanne. Many of South Africa’s most adventurous winemakers have also turned to the Rhône for inspiration with thrilling results – and they, too, are starting to see the benefits of making roussanne on its own. Rustenberg Roussanne, Stellenbosch 2018 (£12.50, Lea & Sandeman) is heady with peaches-and-cream; Miles Mossop’s Introduction is brisker and brighter, but still with that caressing, roast chicken-ready roussanne oiliness and late summer stone-fruitiness.
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David and Victoria Beckham, the British multi-multihyphenate mogul-socialite-actor-philanthropist-tastemaker couple, are as likely to be spotted in a vineyard as on a soccer pitch or stage these days, and this week saw them at one of Italy’s finest. Becks posted to Instagram from Castello della Sala, the Antinori Umbrian estate home to one of Italy’s most storied white wines, Cervaro della Sala. “Great few hours with Renzo and friends,” enthused the former Manchester United midfielder.
That would be Italian hall-of-fame enologist Renzo Cotarella, veteran captain of Piero Antinori‘s global cellars, who created Cervaro, a Chardonnay-Grechetto blend, more than three decades ago. The Beckhams, who once preferred Blue Nun and bubbles before becoming Napa vineyard owners, are known Antinori fans, but this tasting was particularly special: four vintages of Cervaro back to 1999, one for each of their kids’ birth years. “They had the chance to taste some library vintages of Cervaro della Sala and experience the breathtaking views,” Cotarella told Unfiltered via email of the visit. “The Beckhams are true enophiles who understand and appreciate the skill that goes into producing fine Italian wines.”
Smells Like Teen Delinquency? Dave Grohl Salutes Buckfast, Beloved Wine of Scottish Hooligans
In other news of Great ’90s Daves, Foo Fighters frontman and onetime Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl was wining in Europe this week as well, but his tastes skewed decidedly more punk than posh. After a gig at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park, he toasted the locals with a bottle of Buckfast Tonic Wine, the fortified, caffeinated “Wreck-the-Hoose-Juice” that has long been the antisocial lubricant of choice for Glasgow’s most discerning disorderlies. “I wasn’t going to say anything, but I wasn’t going to leave the city without at least one bottle of this. It’s my favorite drink,” the rocker said, pretending to swig from a bottle in a short clip posted after the show.
“We were delighted to hear that Dave was a fan of our brand,” Buckfast sales manager Stewart Wilson told Unfiltered via email, “Buckfast is very popular among musicians.” The “Commotion Lotion” clocks in at 15 percent ABV, has more caffeine than Red Bull—and has been made by Benedictine monks since the 1880s at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England. They seem to be at peace with their dubious vinous reputation. “We have enjoyed sales growth in what is a very challenging economic environment,” noted Wilson. And some bonus Buckfast news this week: “We have just entered into the food sector for the first time with the launch of our Buckfast BBQ sauce.” It has already almost sold out; Unfiltered maintains that Dave Grohl, however, would never.
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David Babich likes water as much as wine. The head of one of New Zealand’s oldest wineries might be sitting behind his desk poring over the future strategy of his family’s business on weekdays, but his healthy complexion and athletic physique are evidence of his love of kitesurfing and windsurfing on Auckland’s waters. It’s part of his need for speed, which was evident at an early stage.
‘I got a motorbike aged 12 and blasted around the vineyard – it was only two years later I got a helmet for Christmas,’ he says, laughing incredulously. ‘My mum looked at what I was doing and said: “Hmm, you should really have a helmet on.” Today you would have your kid in a suit of armour!’
Growing up on the family’s vineyard in west Auckland in the 1970s in an era before hi-vis vest-wearing health and safety officials, Babich, his two brothers and cousins would use the winery as a playground and drive tractors before they were out of primary school. Three generations of the family lived alongside each other on the eponymous Babich Road, built by his great uncles and grandfather, Josip, who produced his first wine in New Zealand in 1916. They were ‘trying to emulate what they had left in Croatia’, he says.
In the early 1900s, five of the six Babich brothers headed for the gum fields of New Zealand’s far north in search of a better life, leaving behind family and friends in their native village in Dalmatia. Like many other hardworking, gum-digging Dalmatians, they would earn enough to buy land, and a strong community grew up around Auckland, bringing their culture of vine-growing and winemaking to a country dominated by beer-swilling and whisky-swigging Brits. The name of Babich, along with Fistonich (Villa Maria), Brajkovich (Kumeu River), Yukich (Montana, now Brancott Estate) Nobilo and Selak are just some of the pioneering Dalmatian families that the New Zealand wine community has to thank for its early success.
The many adversities these early settlers faced included a strong temperance movement, which culminated in a narrowly defeated national Prohibition vote in 1919. The hangover from the vote, however, led to restrictive legislation on alcohol sales throughout the first half of the 20th century: it wasn’t until the 1950s that wineries could sell single bottles of wine to the public; restaurants could not sell wine until 1960; and the 6pm closing time for pubs continued until 1967 – just one year before David Babich’s birth.
The New Zealand wine industry has changed beyond all recognition during his lifetime and Babich Wines has illustrated this evolution. Fortified wines were the mainstay of New Zealand production in his childhood, and as late as 1993 Babich was still producing as much as 200,000 litres of so-called Port and Sherry. On the eve of his return to the family fold in 2001, fortified wine production had fallen to just 2,000 litres and within four years, these styles had dropped off the radar, replaced wholly by quality table wines produced using international varieties.
The family’s move from Auckland to Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough also reflects the changing geography of the New Zealand wine scene in the last half of the 20th century. Marlborough, Gimblett Gravels and Central Otago were devoid of grapevines when Babich was born in 1968. The Yukich family planted the first vines in Marlborough in 1973; vines took root in Gimblett Gravels in 1981; and the first commercial wine was produced in Central Otago in 1987.
It was clear that New Zealand’s vinous future was not in the damp, humid climes of Auckland. Although Babich Road remains home to the company’s North Island winery facility, offices, tasting room and a small vineyard that is being replanted with Albariño – ‘a variety that can handle the crappy weather and clay soils of west Auckland’, Babich says – the company’s production centre is now in Marlborough, which accounts for about 90% of its output.
David Babich at a glance
Born 18 April 1968, Auckland
Family Married to Julie; three children Peter b.2005, twins Annelise and Luke b.2009
Education Bachelor of Oenology, Roseworthy Agricultural College, Australia; Bachelor of Commerce, University of Auckland
Career 1990s – sales, marketing and management positions at drug company Glaxo, which merged with SmithKline Beecham in 2000; 2001 – returned to Babich Wines as assistant general manager
Other interests Water sports and motor sports
A global stage
Babich is fresh from yet another business trip overseas as he sits at his desk on a Saturday morning, surrounded by the vineyards he careered around on his motorbike as a boy. International travel is not as glamorous as it seems, but as head of a business that now exports 90% of its production, it is part of the job description. 2019 marks not only the 200th anniversary of the planting of the first vines in New Zealand, but also 40 years since the Babich family exported its first shipment – more than 1,000 cases of Pinotage-Cabernet and Riesling-Sylvaner to Germany. The world’s love affair with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would provide the impetus for greater international success in the coming decades.
When Babich returned to the business after seven years in the pharmaceutical industry, he found the company had no annual budgets or forecasts, all the wines cost the same – ‘unless it was oaked, in which case it cost $10 more per bottle’, according to the Babich family history The Next Vintage – and a perennial issue with wine supply was thwarting the export effort. Cue the introduction of the Excel spreadsheet at Babich’s offices and the expansion of its vineyard holdings.
Since taking his place in the Babich management team in 2001, the national vineyard area has grown as fast as the top speed of Babich’s Maserati, mushrooming from 11,648ha to 37,969ha, with 23 years of consecutive export growth providing the stimulus. The US, UK and Australia have the greatest thirst for New Zealand wine – in particular Sauvignon Blanc, which accounts for 86% of all wine leaving New Zealand shores, according to the New Zealand Winegrowers Annual Report 2018. But what next?
‘I think the question being asked is will people get over Sauvignon Blanc en masse, creating a vacuum of demand?’ answers Babich. ‘If people are going to get over Sauvignon, mature markets like the UK and Australia are going to get over it first, so we watch for flagging demand there. They can’t keep growing like they have, so we accept that they might say, “We are looking for something different now”.
‘After 35 years, the UK still has positive growth; Australia is fairly flat, so those will be the first to tip if we are going to face this challenge. How maturity also manifests itself is in trading down and price commoditisation. What wineries do in response is go to less mature markets like the US and take them towards maturity.
‘In the case of New Zealand, you go to Asia and develop brand new markets that are immature, opening up regions that are westernising their food and beverage habits.’
The road ahead
In a bid to maintain the interest of mature markets, including the UK, where Babich estimates more than 70% of sales are commoditised, he says: ‘You have to differentiate your product and give retailers something to spark new life into this category. Sauvignon Blanc isn’t “one style fits all”. It has all these variants and we are offering one: Headwaters is a single-vineyard, organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This has got a future in a mature market.’
Whatever the future holds for the New Zealand wine industry and Babich Wines, the family’s success has already far exceeded the expectations of its founder, Josip, who trod his first grapes as a sideline to digging gum. Josip, David’s father Peter, and his uncle Joe defied the odds in passing on a healthy business to the third generation.
What is even more impressive is that they did this in a country that was initially hostile to their arrival as ‘alien enemies’ from the then Austro-Hungarian Empire; they persevered in a land at the bottom of the world that had no wine culture and imposed burdensome licensing laws for the first 50 years of their business. It is a delicious story of overcoming the odds.
The man now driving the family business forward might love speed, but he realises that slow and steadfast has won this race.
New Zealand pioneers
Alongside the Babich family, here are five other key names that helped to shape the country’s wine history.
Auntsfield Scotsman David Herd bought land in Marlborough’s Southern Valleys and planted Muscat vines circa 1873. While the vineyard was pulled up in 1931, the Auntsfield wine tradition has been resurrected by the Cowley family.
Corbans Lebanese immigrant Assid Abraham Corban bought a 3.9ha block of land in west Auckland in 1902 and grew vines despite a strong prohibitionist sentiment at that time. The Corban family lost control of the brand to tobacco company Rothmans in the 1970s, but the family remained involved in the industry through the fourth-generation Alwyn (who sold his brand Ngatarawa Wines to Mission Estate in 2017) and Jeremy Corban (Big Sky, Martinborough).
Mission Estate Founded by French priests in Hawke’s Bay in 1851, it is still 100% owned by the Society of Mary.
Te Mata Estate Under the stewardship of the Buck family since 1974, the first vines were planted on Te Mata Station by Bernard Chambers in 1892 and its wines were receiving international awards as early as 1908.
Vidal Estate Spaniard Anthony Joseph Vidal bought a racing stables with an acre of land in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay in 1905. Today, the brand resides within the Villa Maria stable.
Babich wines tasted by Decanter experts:
The following wines have been tasted by Decanter experts and are available to view to Decanter Premium members.
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Those who have followed the controversial singing and songwriting career of David Crosby know that he marches to the beat of his own drummer. He staked out some important musical territory playing with The Byrds and then went on to work with the supergroups Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
It is a miracle that this 77-year old survivor is still alive. He’s had three heart attacks and has eight stints in his heart. With sadness, regrets, and plenty of pain, Crosby discusses his self-destructiveness. For years he was addicted to heroin and cocaine, and he spent nine months in prison on drug charges.
A. J. Eaton directs this documentary about this aging hippie who is heading toward his seventh decade of recording. We catch a glimpse of his glory days singing “Ohio”, “Wooden Ships,” “Teach the Children,” and other hits. There are clips of recording sessions and concerts and behind-the-scenes conversations with his bandmates. In one touching scene, Crosby stands in the driveway of a house in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon and points out the room Crosby. Stills & Nash was formed.
Crosby’s emotions come to the fore when he recalls the death of Christine Hinton, his lover who was killed in a car crash. Another downer at this late stage in his life is that his best musician friends and band members have not spoken to him for years. He confesses that he is mostly to blame for this situation.
This documentary shows that Crosby does have some things going for him as he embarks on yet another tour and records a new album with some younger musicians. First is his wife, who provides him with a loving home he is overjoyed to come back to. Second is his willingness to be brutally honest with himself and his audience. And finally, there is his music. Given a choice of many options, he admits, he will always choose music.
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When I prescribe strength training for my depressed patients, they are often surprised. They have never heard of the relationship between physical strength and psychological well-being.
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Patients are demanding practices start becoming environmentally responsible, Mark Topley says.
I don’t often go food shopping, because in our family we’ve distributed the domestic responsibilities that way.
But when I do, it’s still a surprise to see the absence of carrier bags at the self service checkout.
I now have to ask for one (if I’ve forgotten one of our bizillion ‘bags for life’).
It’s a bit of an inconvenience, and yet I am very happy to do so.
What ever happened to customer convenience being paramount?
The ‘David Attenborough effect’
As we’ve all seen, there’s now something more important than convenience, and that’s the greater good, and in particular the greater good of the planet.
Consumers now carry ‘keepie cups’ for their coffee, when it would be far more convenient not to and use a paper one.
Or carry a refillable water bottle, when it would be far easier to pick up a new plastic one when they were thirsty.
I’ve got friends who take their own containers to the Chinese takeaway so they can avoid the build up of non-recyclable plastic or (worse still) metal dishes in their general waste bin.
Wherever you look, the ‘David Attenborough effect’ is in evidence.
Consumers are starting to choose the planet over convenience.
The same shift is coming to dentistry, and you need to be ready for it.
A friend and dental business coach tells me that he already has clients who are reporting patients turning their noses up at plastic interdental brushes.
The same coach says: ‘What they are really testing are your values, the real conscience of your dental business and it’s worth being prepared.
‘Consumers are going out of their way to spend their money with businesses that are like them and to that extent nothing has changed.
‘The forward thinking business is not ignoring them.’
Business coach Chris Barrow recognises the same trend: ‘Nowadays, when patients look for quality, they take into consideration more than the simple offer of clinical excellence and customer service.
‘They are interested in your core values.’
But how hard is it to find time to think about environmental responsibility when there’s enough going on already to just run the practice day to day?
How do you know what you need to do to be responsible, and that you’re doing it right?
Responding to demand
The environmental responsibility of a business falls into a bigger topic – corporate social responsibility and its three pillars of people, environment, community.
As you can see, it’s not ‘yet another something’ that you need to do, but rather something that is intertwined with many aspects of the business – HR, team engagement, motivation, marketing, reputation management, leadership development…I could go on!
For the past 18 months I’ve worked with practices across the UK to help them think about what CSR means for them, and to create a plan that sits within the business to cover the bases of CSR and add value to the practice.
From this work with clients it became clear that some guidance and a standard was needed.
Something that would help practices understand what they needed to do to be responsible.
And those standards are now free to access at dentalcsr.co.uk.
There’s also a survey currently running at dentistry.co.uk on CSR in dentistry and you can take part here.
Once the results are in, I’ll be writing a series of articles on CSR in Dentistry magazine covering the people, environment and community aspects of this increasingly important topic.
Times are changing.
Patients are demanding that we’re a socially and environmentally responsible sector.
Smart businesses are responding already, and you can be one of them.
Read more from Mark Topley:
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These berry financiers by Parisian baking authority, David Lebovitz, are perfect for summertime and can be made using blackberries as well. When browning butter, which the French call beurre noisette (literally, “hazelnut butter,” but colloquially, “brown butter”), you want to get the butter rather dark so it smells like noisettes. This involves cooking it until it stops sputtering and takes on the color of maple syrup. That color is key to the flavor of these financiers.
Don’t miss our exclusive interview with David Lebovitz about his Paris kitchen, and tune in to our podcast, The Crumb, where we chat with David about his favorite ingredient for summer baking!
David Lebovitz’s Berry Financiers
- 7 tablespoons (98 grams) unsalted butter
- 1¾ cups (200 grams) sliced blanched almonds
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 5 tablespoons (40 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
- 4 large egg whites (120 grams)
- ½ teaspoon (2 grams) almond extract
- 6 ounces (175 grams) fresh raspberries*
- Apricot jam, for brushing
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 12-cup muffin tin.
- In a sauté pan, heat the butter until it begins to sizzle. Continue to cook over low heat until the edges darken and the butter gives off a nutty flavor. It’ll sputter and splatter a bit as the water cooks off, so be careful. Remove from heat, and set aside.
- In a food processor, grind the almonds with the granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar, the flour, and the salt. While the machine is running, add the egg whites and the almond extract. Stop the machine, and add the butter, pulsing as you add it, until the butter is just mixed.
- Divide the batter evenly amongst the buttered muffin tins, and poke 3 to 4 berries into the top of each one.
- Bake until each cake is browned on top, about 18 to 20 minutes. While still warm, brush tops with apricot jam.
*Frozen berries can be used to make these. No need to defrost the berries before using.
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