175g unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 cup caster sugar, plus extra 1 cup
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp almond essence
45g plain flour
140g almond meal
4 free-range egg whites
Large pinch sea-salt flakes
4 x 250g punnets strawberries, hulled
Pure icing sugar, to dust
200g sour cream
Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional). Grease and lightly flour a 12-hole (1/3-cup capacity) muffin pan. Cook butter in a saucepan on medium heat for 5 minutes, swirling occasionally, until butter foams, turns light golden and smells slightly nutty. Remove from heat and put base of pan in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Cool.
Put cooled butter, sugar, vanilla, essence, flour, almond meal, egg whites and salt in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Dollop in pan holes. Press a strawberry in centre of each, pointed side down, and bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden and firm to touch. Turn out onto a wire rack to completely cool.
Meanwhile, roughly chop 1 punnet strawberries. Heat extra sugar in a pan on low, until melted. Increase to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes, until lightly caramelised. Remove from heat, add berries and 2 Tbsp water (mixture may splutter). Return to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Put a fine sieve over a bowl and strain mix, discarding berries. Cool for 30 minutes. Dice
1 more punnet; stir into cooled syrup.
Dust cakes with icing sugar, dollop with sour cream, decorate with remaining berries, sliced, and pour over syrup. Serve.