Archive for the 'cake' Category

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares

March 16, 2012

You know about the freshman 15, right?  When you gain 15 lbs. during your freshman year of college because, all of a sudden, you have no idea what to eat, and live off of soft serve ice cream, french fries, and Lucky Charms.  Well, that never happened to me, thankyouverymuch.  I was able to bypass the freshman 15, only to have it haunt me later in the my college days.

Later meaning my study abroad semester.  In Argentina.  Because of dulce de leche.

At first, I thought of it as a special treat.  But then I suddenly realized that I will never again live in a country where it is perfectly acceptable to eat a luscious caramel sauce with every meal, and I panicked.  I started eating it all day, every day, because I could – in cookies, with toast, out of the jar with a spoon!  And justified it by saying that it’s a milk product!  With calcium!  And vitamin D!  It was practically health food!

25 pounds, people.  In a single semester.  I may have gone overboard.  But, boy, it was worth every pound.  And here we are again, taking something ridiculously decadent and adding even more deliciousness.  Cheesecake with dulce de leche baked right in, with even more dulce de leche poured on top.  This is basically my study abroad semester on a plate.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares (from Bon Appetit)

Do ahead: to make dulce de leche at home: pour two 14 oz. cans of sweetened condensed milk into a glass bowl and let it sit in a double boiler, over medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally until the color of the milk has turned a deep caramel color.  This will take about 2 hours.  You can also buy your dulce de leche from any store.  It’s quite readily available.  I clearly did not know this when I lived in Argentina.

For Crust:

  • cooking spray
  • 2 1/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13×9 baking pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until well-combined. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
For Filling:
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche, recipe above
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Blend cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla and mix until well blended.  Spread batter evenly over cooled crust.  Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 35-40 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.
For Topping:
  • 2/3 cup dulce de leche, recipe above
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • sea salt, for sprinkling
Heat dulce de leche cream in microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour.  Pour glaze over cooled cheesecake and spread evenly.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Slice into 24 squares.

Honey Cake

March 13, 2012

I love birthdays.  Love love love them.  I like the cake and the celebrations and the surprises.  I also like the idea of starting fresh.  And because honey signifies new beginnings, I thought that this would be appropriate for my birthday that just passed.

Turns out that I also like to go on vacation for my birthday.  To places with unstable internet that is not conducive to posting blog entries in a timely manner.  I mean, who was I kidding, look at the place:

But you will enjoy this incredible moist and spiced honey cake, even though it’s a week late, I promise!

Honey Cake (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm strong tea
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease and flour bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, applesauce, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, tea, orange juice and rum, if using.

Using an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter.  Use a rubber spatula to ensure that everything from the bottom has been mixed in.

Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Place cake pan on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center, about 65-75 minutes.  Let cake cool completely before removing from pan.

Chocolate Orange Macaron Layer Cake

September 26, 2011

This is, by far, the tallest thing that has ever come out of my kitchen.  It was tall, people.  Like over a foot tall.  But that’s enough about the height of the cake.  It was also delicious!  Two layers of chocolate orange cake, with chocolate chip french macaron layers to fill in.  Pretty amazing.  The taste was as good as the cake was high.  Yep, tall.

This cake was actually another product of my sister’s birthday.  Sure, her birthday used to be a an occassion where she just got to pick her own dessert.  But it’s turned into a challenge for me to outdo whatever I created the year before.  And if last year’s was a monster, then this year’s was a beast.  If you consider beasts to be bigger than monsters, that is.

But there is much more to this story than this: we had a party for my sister’s birthday.  A Michael Jackson themed party.  Alas, there was no time to take beautiful photos to show just how scrumptious this cake was between the karaoke and the moonwalking!  So you don’t even get to see the true tallness of this cake!  I know, such a tease.  But you will see the Thriller glove sugar cookies that I made.  And I certainly hope that makes up for it.

Chocolate Orange Macaron Layer Cake

Considering how impressive this cake looks, it was surprisingly easy to put together.  It was frosted, and ready to be eaten all in a morning’s time.  I love the chocolate orange combo, and so does my sister (and so does Michael Jackson, we’d like to believe), but the fruit/chocolate combo is obviously endless.  Or you can make it pure chocolate.  I have to say that the chocolate was a bit too much for me (but I’m a cinnamon and fruit flavored dessert girl, after all), so next time I would probably omit the chocolate chips from the macaron layers.  The aforementioned tall thing is pretty important considering serving sizes – with this four layer cake, we were able to feed about 40 people with satisfying slices.

Chocolate Orange Macaron Layer Cake (all components adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Chocolate Layers

2 cups cake flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks butter, room temperature

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup freshly brewed coffee or freshly made instant coffee, cooled to room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla

1 orange, zested

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 9 inch round cake pans.  Line with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper.

In a bowl of a standing mixer, combine all dry ingredients, through the salt.  Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until everything is well combined.  Add butter and buttermilk and blend, starting on low speed, increasing as it starts to become well combined.  Beat for 2-3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, coffee, vanilla and orange zest.  With the mixer running, blend in the coffee mixture in 3 additions.  When well blended, take a spatula and stir, scraping the bottom, ensuring that all of the dry ingredients have been thoroughly mixed in.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack, in their pans until cool enough to handle, then turn out of pans and let the layers cool completely on the wire rack.

Macaron Layers

2.5 cups, or 10.5 oz. ground almonds

1 cup sugar

2 large pinches salt

2  tsp. vanilla (or 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean)

6 large egg whites

Set the oven racks in the top third and bottom third of oven.  Preheat the oven to 325.  Spray two 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray.  Line with parchment paper, and spray again.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the almonds, sugar and salt.  With a mixer, whip egg whites until soft peaks form.  With the mixer running, slowly add in the vanilla and remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.  Beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.  Gently fold in the egg white mixture into the almond mixture until well combined.  Add mini chocolate chips and stir.  Divide evenly among the two pans, spreading to make sure that it covers all sides.

Bake macaron layers until golden and almost firm to the touch, rotating the pans half way through the baking.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Take out of oven and let cool, in the pan, on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.  Carefully take the layers out of the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Fudge Frosting

6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

4 cups powdered sugar

3 sticks butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup half and half

1 tablespoon vanilla

Place everything in a blender and blend until well combined.  Add more half and half if needed for a better consistency.

To Assemble

1 jar good orange marmalade

On a plate, place a chocolate cake layer upside down.  Spread with about 2 tablespoons of orange marmalade, or enough to cover the surface of the cake.  Place a macaron layer on top of the marmalade.  Spread a layer of the chocolate frosting on top.  Place another layer of the chocolate cake layer on top of the frosting.  Spread more orange marmalade on the cake layer.  Repeat with macaron layer.  Place the remainder of the frosting on top, covering the top and sides.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Summer Strawberry Cake

August 18, 2011

Right around this time, every year, I get this sinking feeling that summer is ending.  I mean, it is, obviously.  But I really start to feel at the end of August: when all of the back to school sales are over because schools are actually in session; when you start to see  pumpkins growing in gardens; when boots are appearing in store fronts; and saddest of all, when summer produce starts to fade away.

So for the past couple of weeks, during my weekly trip to the farmers market, I’ve been trying to keep a positive attitude about the gradual disappearance of the corn and watermelon.  I’m ready to get my fall flavors on, I tell myself!  But then, last week, all of a sudden, out of the blue, the farmers market was selling strawberries!  The same strawberries that typically have a season until mid June!  I haven’t seen these guys since spring!  Cute, little itty bitty strawberries that just had ohh so much flavor!  Best ever.

What does this mean!  Well, I think an argument could be made for climate change.  But let’s just say that summer wants to hold on for just a bit longer.  At least long enough for me to make this delicious cake.  This seriously is one of my most favorite cakes: it’s simple, sweet and highlights the fruit.  It’s delicious with strawberries, which is my fruit of choice for this cake, but really, you can use anything you want.  Especially because, apparently, summer lives on.

Summer Strawberry Cake (adapted from here)

6 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 or 10-inch pie plate. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl.  Mix together milk, egg and vanilla into a separate bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 cup sugar for 3-4 minutes, until pale and fluffy.  Reduce the speed and beat in milk and egg mixture.

Reducing the speed of the mixer to low, gradually beat in the flour mixture until it’s well incorporated.  You may have to use a wooden spoon at the end.  Pour into the prepared pie plate.  Arrange the strawberries decoratively, cut side down, on cake batter, gently pushing in the strawberries.  Sprinkle the raw sugar on top of strawberries.

Bake cake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour to 1 hour, 30 minutes.  Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack.

Eggless Nutella Swirl Cake

July 7, 2011

One of my cousins from India always requests certain American-found food items whenever I visit.  Double-stuffed Oreos usually make the list, she has a thing for Cool(er) Ranch Doritos, and she always sends an entire list of chocolates for me to bring.  But without fail, every single time, I must bring her Nutella (the quintessential American treat?).

This is a pretty understandable request – Nutella tastes amazing on just about everything: graham crackers, apples, cookies.  But my cousin does not spread this on anything.  She instead mixes it into her milk, kind of like chocolate syrup, but much more difficult to mix in.  I’ve tried – I stirred for a long time without getting anywhere.  She ends up with mildly flavored chocolate hazelnut flavored milk with globs of Nutella at the bottom.  This, she says, is her favorite part.  She tips her cup all the way back for the milky Nutella to slide down, and when that usually does not happen, she takes a seat with the mug and spoon in hand.  This is all pretty gross, you may think.  But  I think that it’s brilliant!

Globs of nutella, at a bottom of a mug or otherwise, are probably the most delicious globs you can find.  I do not know of one person that would not enjoy a glob of Nutella deliciousness.  So when I was going to India around her birthday, I knew exactly what to bake for her to incorporate her favorite type of glob.  I swirled in Nutella into my favorite eggless cake recipe.

It sank a bit – Nutella is a bit heavy, I realize now.  But that just made the globs all the more apparent and delicious.  This cake was very yummy, it traveled well, and though everyone else loved this pound cakey-cake, my cousin picked out all of the Nutella from the cake and ate just that.  I was only slightly offended.

Eggless Nutella Swirl Cake

I don’t quite remember where I first found this dessert, but if you type in “eggless condensed milk cake” into Google, there are like thousands of results that pop up.  Swirl in Nutella or swirl in jam, or make the whole thing chocolate or peanut butter, there are recipes for all.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 (400gm) can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray.  Sift together the all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda into a large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, orange juice, melted butter and vanilla until well blended.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the blended wet ingredients.  Using a wooden spoon, mix until well incorporated.  Pour into prepared pans.  Using a tablespoon, evenly glob the Nutella on top of the cakes.  Using a butter knife, cut into globs and swirl the Nutella into the batter.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for about 15 minutes, remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

Cake Pops

June 9, 2011

I know that cake pops are all the rage.  They’re all over food blogs, and now coffee shops and bakeries have shown them the love too.  I know they’re pretty and all, but I simply don’t get it.  I don’t understand the appeal.  Is it because it’s a two-bite treat?  Is it because it’s sweeter than a normal cake?  Is it because it’s on a stick?!

But the thing is, these are exactly the reasons why I don’t understand cake pops.  Wouldn’t you just want another cake pop after you eat one just because it’s so small?  Wouldn’t you think that it’s slightly excessive to dip a bite of cake, covered in frosting in melted chocolate and then eat it?  Isn’t using a fork easier??

This is what I figured out: it doesn’t matter!  People like cake pops because they’re just so cool!  It’s just a trend right now and just like in other trends (read: shorts with tights), you gotta just go with it – no explanation necessary.  Not surprisingly, I bit the bullet and made them.  In a big way, I might add.  With the help of my artistic sister, who possesses the patience and aesthetic eye that I will never have, I made a cake pop bouquet!

Oh man, the combinations you can do with this!  You can have any color of white chocolate coating on the rolled ball of cake!  You can try an endless number of cake flavors!  You can decorate the cake pop like animals or vegetables or even minerals!  The bouquet part has so many choices too!  And to top it all off, it just looks pretty.  I may not understand the pops, but I’ve become a believer.

Cake Pops

Like I said, there are about a bazillion different combinations you can use for cake pops.  I made half batches of a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and a pumpkin cake with a buttermilk icing.

The cakes were delicious before they were rolled into pops.  I’m not sure about after because I was just too busy staring at my bouquet.

My sister filled an empty vase with styrofoam blocks so that the pops would sit at different levels.  Then she filled it with colorful candy and then cut flower petals out of origami paper.  She then managed to put a hole right in the center of the flower so it sat right under the cake pop.  Impressive, I know.  I ate the leftover cake while watching her do all of this.

As for making these cakes into pops, refer to Bakerella, who happens to be the Queen of (cake) Pop(s).

Japanese Cheesecake

May 12, 2011

There are about 18 different types of cheesecakes in the world.  Not flavors, but actual types of cheesecakes and how they are made.  Yes, 18.  That’s what wikipedia is telling me, anyway.  Mostly they differentiate by region – by the flavor of compote that is put on top of the cheesecake.  Or they are refrigerated, rather than baked.  But while I happened to be on the wiki page for cheesecake, the Japanese description caught my eye: “smooth flan-like texture and almost plasticine appearance.”  What an amazingly delicious sounding and totally weird cheesecake!  I started looking up recipes.

Japanese cheesecakes does use cream cheese.  And like most American cheesecakes, it is baked, not refrigerated.  And it uses a lot of eggs.  But boy, that is where the similarities of the two versions end.  The Japanese version is light and fluffy and almost has a steamed texture to it.  It’s quite delightful, actually, but it lacks the traditional cheesecake quality of tasting like, well, cheese.  In fact, my mom, a lover of all things cheese and all things cake, especially when they are put together, said that this was even more delicious when you don’t call it a cheesecake.  Awesome (and so truthful!).

Do not let any of this deter you from making this, though!  In fact, let it be encouragement to make it as soon as possible!  It’s quite lovely in its own right.  It’s creamier than a chiffon cake, but still has the airiness quality of one.  And hello, wiki said it’s “flan-like,” which completely sold me.  And wiki is always right.

Japanese Cheesecake (adapted from here)

6 large eggs, separated

140 grams sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

50 grams butter

250 grams cream cheese

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

zest of one lemon

60 grams cake flour

20 gram corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch round springform pan.  Line the outside with aluminum foil.

2. Over a double boiler, melt together butter, cream cheese and milk until completely smooth.  Set aside to cool.

3. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and continue to beat on medium speed.  As you see soft peaks forming, slowly pour in the sugar until the egg whites are light and fluffy and hold their own shape.

4. To the cooled cream cheese mixture, whisk in egg yolks, vanilla and lemon zest.  Fold in all of the dry ingredients until they are completely incorporated into the cream cheese mixture.

5. Working in batches, fold in the egg whites to the cream cheese mixture, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.  When all of the egg whites are incorporated, pour into the prepared pan.

6. Fill a separate 9×13 baking pan halfway with water.  Place the cheesecake in the center rack of the oven.  Place the 9×13 pan on the rack below, to create a water bath.

7. Bake cheesecake for 70 minutes, until a toothpick tester comes out clean.  Let cool completely.  Serve at room temperature or cold with strawberry sauce.

Strawberry Sauce (recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

2 cups strawberries, rinsed and cut into big piece

3 tablespoons sugar

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup water

1. Blend everything together until smooth.  Strain to take out seeds.  Serve cold or room temperature with cheesecake.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

May 5, 2011

Did you hear about the wedding last week??  It was pretty big, you might have seen.  Did you see the dress?  Did you see the kiss?  Did you hear about the cake?!

I do have a mild obsession with the British monarchy, it’s true.  But this is neither the time nor the place to discuss this.  This, my friends, is about another obsession of mine: no bake desserts (especially those involving biscuits).  It may be a pretty specific category, but they’re pretty awesome – creating a full-fledged delicious dessert, using nothing but a couple ingredients and never turning on the oven!  So easy, so simple, so delicious.  They are a wonder to me.

Which is why I was surprised to learn that the groom’s cake at the Royal Wedding was a chocolate biscuit cake – a no bake “cake” using simply British tea biscuits, chocolate and condensed milk.  Amazing.  And that was all that was needed to serve such a regal crowd!  You know you have to try this one.

So it turns out that  you don’t need to crash a royal wedding in order to eat like the royals!  No, no.  You just need a few ingredients and a refrigerator.  And a fancy hat.  But only if you feel like it.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake (adapted from Tea and Sympathy via Daily Candy)

14 oz (400 grams) digestive biscuits, rich tea biscuits or graham crackers, crumbled into pieces

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

1/2 cup dried cherries

1 stick butter

1 can condensed milk

5 oz. dark chocolate

5 oz. milk chocolate

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Grease a pie plate, 8 inch square dish, or any dish of a similar size.  Line with parchment paper and then grease the parchment paper.  Set aside.

2. Stir together the crushed biscuits with nuts and dried cherries in a large bowl.  Set aside.

3. Over medium heat, in a double boiler, melt together the 5 oz. of dark chocolate, 5 oz. milk chocolate, butter and condensed milk until completely melted and thick.

4. Pour chocolate mixture over the biscuits and stir together until everything is coated.  Pour into prepared dish and pat down to ensure that the cake will take the shape of the plate.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.

5. Melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals.  Stir after every interval until the chips are melted.

6. Unmold the cake and remove the parchment paper.  Pour the melted chocolate in the center of the cake and spread so it will run down the sides of the cake.  Let the chocolate set for about 15 minutes and then slice.

Whole Orange Cake

March 16, 2011

On the spectrum of fruits that I enjoy, oranges come somewhere in the middle.  They are nowhere near the top with summer berries and mangoes, but I wouldn’t put them on the bottom with honeydew and cantaloupe either (can we talk about how disappointing restaurant fruit salads are when they are filled with melons??).  It’s not that oranges are not tasty; it’s just that they’re not always consistent.  Plus, let’s be honest, they just seem far too labor intensive to eat when the flavor is hit or miss.

That is until I discovered honeybell oranges.  They are the one and only exception when it comes to oranges.  Every year, right in the dead of winter, my parents send us a carton of honeybell oranges.  These oranges are only available for a short time during the year, but are seriously the juiciest, most flavorful oranges that I have ever encountered.  For someone who is typically so blasé about oranges and thinks that they are just mediocre in the fruit chain, the discovery of honeybell oranges was a very big deal.

This year, I may have expressed more excitement than usual because my parents did not think that 4 cartons of oranges would satisfy my need.  They sent us EIGHT cartons of oranges – I was left with NINETY-SIX oranges!  Huge, juicy, can’t-eat-more-than-one-at-a-time oranges!

After my initial shock, denial and disbelief, I gathered myself together, found space for the oranges in my apartment, and decided that this is a very good thing.  Instead of just using the oranges for fresh-squeezed juice in the morning, as a daily snack in the afternoon and as a replacement for milk in my oatmeal (have you ever tried that?  fruity and divine – try it), I realized that I could use these incredibly flavorful oranges in my baking.  I found a cake that used the entire orange, skin and all (no peeling involved!).  It was moist, light, and incredibly orange-y.  And in my unintentional effort to post gluten-free desserts, here’s one more for the list!

Whole Orange Cake (recipe from Scandi Foodie)

I added mini chocolate chips to the cake batter because I truly believe that the orange/chocolate combo is one of the best, but feel free to leave it plain, or add nuts, perhaps.  Also, I was nervous that the bits of orange peel would leave a slight bitter taste.  It did.  Not unpleasantly, but it was there in that marmalade kind of way.  But if you happen to plan in advance, this is one of those cakes that develops more flavor as it sits, and will lose any of that even slight bitter taste.


2 oranges
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking powder

1 cup mini chocolate chips, mixed with 1 tbsp. flour (gluten-free or otherwise)


Wash the oranges, place them in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, then return to pan, cover with water and bring to boil. Let simmer another 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Drain and chop the oranges discarding any seeds.

Place the oranges in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

Whisk the eggs and the sugar until thick and pale. Add the orange, almond meal, and baking powder and fold until just combined. Add the chocolate chips/flour mixture and fold in.  Pour into a greased, 9 inch round or springform pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Pecan Cornmeal Cake

February 8, 2011

Have I told you that I’m from North Carolina?  I’m what they call “a Tarheel born, a Tarheel bred (..and when I die, I’m a Tarheel dead)!”  And oh so proud of it.  Not only do I think that The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the greatest school in this country, I also think that Chapel Hill is one of the greatest towns in the nation.

Now, if you know anything about schools, rivalries or college basketball, you also know that my love for UNC directly correlates with my disdain for Duke.  With the universities (and towns) just being 8 miles apart, I really, really do not like anything Duke.  Dark blue, Cameron Indoor Stadium and…Durham.

So you can understand that the recent love that Durham has been receiving from national publications has been a little much for me to bear.  The New York Times is saying that Durham is one of the 41 places in the world to visit this year?!  It’s on the list with such places as Iceland, Zanzibar and Turkey?!  How can this be true??  And then an article last year tells me that Durham has become a foodie town??  Where is Chapel Hill in all of this?!  In my ridiculously biased opinion, I think that Chapel Hill’s greatness must have just seeped into Durham.  That’s gotta be it.

To ensure that this was the case, I went ahead and read that article about Durham’s “great” food.  It turned out that the article had a recipe from a restaurant in Durham that sounded, well, delicious.  So I tried it.  I’m deeply saddened to say that it was nothing short of spectacular.  This cake, made with cornmeal and pecans, and browned butter was just the perfect balance of light and nuttiness and rustic and unique.  It had a simplicity to it that needed nothing to dress it up – though a dollop of freshly whipped cream put it over the top.  It was, to my dismay, a yummy cake.  The Durham-based restaurant that serves this deliciousness must be on the border of the two towns.

*A little FYI about this timely post: one of the two scheduled UNC/Duke men’s basketball games is on the 9th.  Meaning, yep, tomorrow.  I don’t feel like I need to say this, but I expect you to root for the true blue.  You know, with a piece of this cake in hand.

Pecan Cornmeal Cake (from The NY Times via Smitten Kitchen)

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for pans
1/2 cup pecans, toasted over a medium low heat for about 5 minutes, until they smell fragrant
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped Cream, for serving

In a small pan, melt the butter and let it heat until it browns and smells nutty (about 10 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Strain out the brown bits and set aside to cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cornmeal and salt in a large bowl.  In a food processor, pulse pecans, and both sugars until powdery.  Don’t over mix, otherwise it will become pasty.  Add to the flour mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites and vanilla together, just to combine. Whisk this and the browned butter into the dry ingredients. Refrigerate batter overnight.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Thickly butter the sides of a 9-inch round tart pan.  Line the pan with parchment paper.  Pour batter into pan and spread to make sure that it has covered all sides.

Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool 10 to 15 minutes in pan, then turn out on a rack.  Serve (warm, if you like – it’s delicious if you do) with whipped cream.