CHOCOLATE PECAN TORTE

Servings: 10 to 12
Preheat: 350
Prep Time: 1 hour?
Source: Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich

There are lots of toasted pecans in this all-in-one-bowl bittersweet chocolate torte. It’s good on its own, but I often pass a bowl of plain whipped cream; Mocha or Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream are also good here. For the best flavor (and convenience!), make the torte at least a day, if not two, ahead.

Ingredients: 

1 cup (3.5 ounces) pecan halves
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (66% to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into chunks
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
Generous 1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cold large eggs
Powdered sugar for dusting

Lightly Sweetened Whipped Cream, optional

Directions: 

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of the springform pan.

Spread the pecans on the baking sheet and bake them for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they are fragrant and taste toasty. Scrape the nuts onto a plate and let cool
completely. Turn the oven temperature up to 375°F.
Pulse the pecans with the flour in the food processor until finely ground.

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl, preferably stainless steel, set it in a wide skillet of barely simmering water (see Melting Chocolate My Way, page 97), and stir occasionally until nearly melted. Remove the bowl from the water bath and stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth.

Add the butter, granulated sugar, and salt and beat with the electric mixer at medium speed until the butter is completely melted and the mixture thickens and lightens slightly in color. Beat in the eggs one by one, then beat at high speed (medium speed in a heavy-duty stand mixer) for a minute or two, or until the batter is fluffy and lightened in color. Stir in the pecan mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted about 11/2 inches from the side of the pan comes out clean; the center will still be gooey.

Set the pan on a rack to cool. Slide a thin knife or a small metal spatula around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake and allow the thin crust on top to sink (slightly) as the cake cools. Let cool completely. Remove the pan sides and transfer the cake to a serving platter. The torte can be kept at room temperature, covered or under a cake dome, for at least 3 days, or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 3 months; bring to room temperature before serving.

Sift a little powdered sugar over the top to highlight the crackled surface. Serve slices with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

* VARIATIONS
Toasted walnuts or hazelnuts (with the skins rubbed off) make a nice changeup for the pecans. You can grate the zest of 1 orange into the batter, if you like; then stir it in. Top each slice with whipped cream (plain, mocha, or white chocolate – see pages 130-133) and grate a little cinnamon over the top of the cake and cream. In addition to the cinnamon, try a pinch of ground ancho or other chile.

Flourless Chocolate Pecan Torte

You can simply omit the flour without substituting anything for it, or you can increase the nuts by an ounce or so. The texture of the torte will be a bit nubbier, as the flour provides a little creaminess.

Clementine & Almond Syrup Cake

Servings: 8 to 10
Preheat: 350
Prep Time: 
Source: Jerusalem – A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

This fragrant cake has a wonderful light texture and will keep, covered, for at least a week. Oranges will make an adequate substitute for the clementines. A citrus zester, inexpensive and widely available, is the ideal tool for getting long even strips of orange zest to garnish the cake.

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp / 200 g unsalted butter
scant 2 cups / 380 g superfine sugar
grated zest and juice of 4 clementines
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups / 280 g ground almonds
5 large free-range eggs, beaten
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp / 100 g all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt
long strips of orange zest to garnish

CHOCOLATE ICING (OPTIONAL)
6 tbsp / 90 g unsalted butter, diced
5 oz / 150 g good-quality dark chocolate, broken up
2 1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp Cognac

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Lightly grease a 9 1/2-inch / 24cm springform pan with butter and line the sides and bottom with parchment paper.

Place the butter, 1 1/2 cups / 300 g of the sugar, and both zests in a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment and beat on low speed to combine everything Well. Do not Work the mixture too much or incorporate too much air. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing until combined.

With the machine running, gradually add the eggs, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a couple of times as you go. Add the remaining ground almonds, the flour, and the salt and beat until completely smooth.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and level it with an offset spatula.

Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes. Check to see if it is ready by inserting a skewer into the center. It should come out a little bit moist.

When the cake is almost done, place the remaining 1/3 cup / 80 g sugar and the citrus juices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil (the juices should total about 1/2 cup / 120 ml; remove some juice if needed). When the syrup boils, remove it from the heat.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush it with the boiling syrup, making sure all the syrup soaks in. Leave the cake to cool down completely in the pan before you remove it. You can then serve it as it is, garnished with orange zest strips, or store it for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

If you wish to ice the cake, we recommend doing it on the day you want to serve it so the icing is fresh and shiny. Put the butter, chocolate, and honey in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water). Stir until everything is melted, then immediately remove from the heat and fold in the Cognac. Pour the icing over the cooled cake, allowing it to dribble naturally down the sides without covering the cake completely. Let the icing set and then garnish the center of the cake with the orange zest strips.

Alfred’s Deep Dish Apple Pie – updated 2014 Carol and Jessie

Servings: 10
Preheat: 350
Prep Time: 
Source: Carol

This is Alfred Sulzberger’s recipe for deep dish apple pie. The recipe is written out as a list of ingredients on a stained and faded 3 x 5 index card at the bottom of which is printed “good luck”. The pie dough portion of this recipe is more like a not very sweet cookie than traditional pie dough.

Ingredients: 

For the crust:
½ lb butter softened
pinch of salt
2 Tbl spoons rum
6 Tbl spoons sugar
3 cups flour

For the filling
5-6 apples
6 Tbl spoons sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Directions: 

Place the softened butter in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter and add the sugar and rum. Add the flour and turn the mixer on to low. Mix till just combined. Turn the dough out onto a piece wax paper and divide into two pieces. Wrap each piece in wax paper and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Peel, core and slice the apples. Combine with the sugar and cinnamon.
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a round pyrex baking dish. Take one of the dough pieces out of the fridge and break off pieces of dough and press them into the baking dish to form the bottom crust. Fill with the apple mixture. Place the second dough piece between two pieces of wax paper. Roll the dough out to form the top crust. Cover the top of the pyrex dish with the second dough piece and use your fingers to push the edges down until they are pressed into the bottom crust. Cut some decorative slits in the top crust to let steam escape. Bake the pie for about an hour. The crust should be a deep golden brown and the filling should be thick and bubbling.

Plum Coffee Cake

Servings: 8 to 10
Preheat: 375
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Source: Joy of Baking

Fabulous

Ingredients: 

1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 cup (30 grams) ground almonds

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (120 ml) flavorless oil (safflower, corn, or canola)

1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk plain yogurt

1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice

1 tablespoon orange zest (the outer orange skin (rind) of the orange)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

7 – 8 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted (can also use 4 – 5 red plums)

Garnish:

2 tablespoons (30 grams) coarse brown sugar (I like to use Turbinado or Demerara sugar)

Directions: 

Plum Coffee Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour one – 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. (Alternatively spray pan with non stick vegetable/flour spray.) Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir or whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.

In another large bowl, stir or whisk together the oil, yogurt, orange juice and zest, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir in the sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and evenly arrange the halved plums on top of the batter, flesh side facing up. Sprinkle with the 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar.

Bake in preheated oven for about 35 to 45 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Flaming Baba au Rhum

Servings: 9
Preheat: 0
Prep Time: 2 hours plus 2 hours rising – need 4 hours
Source: Melissa Clark , NYT’s

Delicious yeast rum cake

Ingredients: 

2 tablespoons sugar
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
4 large eggs, at room temperature
250 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups)
4 grams fine sea salt (1/2 teaspoon)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into cubes, more for greasing pan
55 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1/3 cup)
150 grams dark brown sugar (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, cut into coins
3 strips orange peel
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup crème fraîche
7 to 15 grams confectioner’s sugar (1 to 2 tablespoons), to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 

PREPARATION

1.
Pour 1/2 cup warm water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in sugar and sprinkle in yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
2.
With mixer on low, beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in flour and salt. Add butter, a few cubes at a time, and beat until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
3.
Grease a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan with softened butter. Spoon half the batter into bottom of pan. Sprinkle chocolate over top of batter, making sure the chocolate doesn’t touch the sides of the pan. Spoon remaining batter over chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
4.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and transfer pan to oven. Bake until deep golden and firm to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes. Let baba cool in the pan, set on a wire rack, for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack while it is still warm and let cool completely.
5.
In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, ginger, orange peel, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Strain into a bowl; discard solids. Stir 1/2 cup rum into liquid.
6.
Place wire rack with cake over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour rum syrup slowly over surface of cake, allowing excess to drip into baking sheet below. Pour extra syrup from pan into a bowl and then pour it back on top of cake. Repeat several times until most of the syrup has soaked into the cake. (Reserve extra syrup for serving; you should have a least 1/3 cup left over.
7.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Beat in crème fraîche. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, to taste, and vanilla.
8.
Place cake on large platter. Place remaining 1/4 cup rum in a small skillet over high heat. Tilt skillet slightly so that rum catches fire. Pour flaming rum over cake and let it burn off. Spoon whipped cream into the hollow center of the cake, then slice; or slice and then dollop with whipped cream. Serve cake with reserved rum syrup.