i did some research for the recipe. gale gand's results in a dough solid enough to turn on the counter, and i specifically remembered it thin enough to pour. in the end i combined three to get precisely what i wanted. gale gand's, this one and this one.
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tb dry yeast
1 cup milk, warm
1 egg, room temp
2 tb butter, softened
1 heaping tb sugar
sift the flour with a pinch of salt. dissolve the yeast and a ts of sugar in the milk. add the beaten egg, butter, remaining sugar to the flour and mix. stream in the milk, mixing all the while. pour immediately into brioche or muffin tins. fill them half way and place in a warm spot to rise for 45 minutes. do not let rise a minute more or they will be though and crumbly and no amount of syrup will make up for the damage. 30 minutes in set your oven to 400F. bake 15-18 minutes, until nicely browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
while they bake prepare the syrup:
2/3 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 lemon rind strips
1 tb grand marnier
boil water, sugar and lemon until sugar is dissolved and the syrup is golden. take it off the heat and add the grand marnier, or cointreau or limoncello, whatever you have. let cool.
for the whipped cream, beat 1 cup heavy cream until stiff. mix in 2 heaping tb lemon curd. which you can make yourself or you can shell 3 bucks for trader joe's, which is quite decent and keeps in the fridge longer than i've ever needed it to.
when everything is cool, get a large shallow dish. cut the third top off the savarins. put each bottom through the syrup and lay it in the dish. if they absorb it right away, spoon a bit more syrup before topping with whipped cream. do the same for the tops. use all the syrup. if you have even a bit left pour it the dish. go all the way or go home. they will suck it up, don't worry. gale says to let it sit overnight but i don't find that necessary. a good couple hours is enough, just to get them cold all the way through.
traditionally they're topped with a dab of red fruit jelly. or maraschino cherries. i was planning on a bit of mint jelly, but of course when i opened the jar i discovered it had gone bad, so my only alternative was strawberry jam. oh well.
they're very good, although not precisely the same as those devoured when we were kids, a thousand years ago. those had plain whipped cream and rum extract instead of grand marnier, but i was in a lemon mood and these really hit home. i firmly believe: when something tastes this light and airy and citrusy the calories simply don't count. (and if you wolf one down in the middle of the night with your head in the fridge that definetely doesn't count.)