Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Texture almost outranks taste of Brown Sugar Almond Cake with Caramel Frosting

Once in a rare while, I will make a dish or dessert whose texture almost outranks its taste.
    The texture of Brown Sugar Almond Cake with Caramel Frosting (click for the recipe - but watch out, it's missing an ingredient and has too much of another, read below*) is truly amazing. It’s moist yet fluffy, and it stays that way for about three days if kept in the fridge.
   A few samplers of this cake remarked on the cake’s terrific texture.
    I think the secret behind the texture is the unusual and clever step of blending canned pear halves with almonds to a thick purée, then blending that further with buttermilk and other ingredients.
    Not only is the texture great, the cake is also delicious. It is very family friendly, and works well for all sorts of occasions and situations from brunch to packed lunches.
    Another great feature of the recipe is an easy caramel frosting for which the refrigerator does most the work of thickening up the base caramel.     
    *The recipe I linked to above is the closest thing I could find on the Internet to the recipe I used from the cookbook Bon Appetit: Desserts. It is nearly identical to the one I used from the cookbook, with two glaring exceptions – it’s missing an amount of white granulated sugar, and has too much golden brown sugar.
    The recipe tells you to put both sugars in a blender, but only the golden brown sugar is listed in the cake ingredients.
    The recipe, according to the one I used, needs 3/4 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup golden brown sugar.
    The cake easy to make.
    Canned pear halves, drained well, are blended with blanched, slivered almonds in a food processor. Buttermilk, white sugar, golden brown sugar, butter, two eggs, and vanilla and almond extracts are put into the processor and the mixture is blended well. As the recipe says, it may look curdled, but this is fine.
    The wet ingredients are added to dry ingredients of cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and everything is stirred together to blend.
    The batter is poured into a nine-inch square cake pan that’s been lined with buttered wax paper. The cake is baked, then cooled slightly before being turned out of the pan and cooled completely.
    The frosting is made by combining dark brown sugar, whipping cream and dark corn syrup in a saucepan, then stirring over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. After two minutes of boiling, the mixture is poured into a bowl and chilled until cold and beginning to thicken, about one hour.
    Butter and powdered or confectioner's sugar are beaten together until smooth, then the cold brown sugar mixture and vanilla are beaten in.
    The frosting is spread over the cake, and toasted sliced almonds are sprinkled on top.

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