Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 or 9 inch square cake pan. In a bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Add in the next three ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool completely before spreading with your favorite frosting.
Hazelnut Sweet Potato Tortes,
frosted with Matcha Green Tea Ginger Icing,
topped with toasted miniature marshmallows
Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Fiesta Cheesecake
1 cup whole almonds, unblanched
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (¼ stick), room temperature
2 (8-ounce) tins sweetened chestnut paste/puree (see notes)
4 ounces chestnuts, or more, to taste, preferably vacuum-packed, whole, precooked and peeled
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup chilled whipping cream
MAKE CRUST: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend whole unblanched almonds, sugar, and almond extract in a food processor until almonds are coarsely chopped. Add unsalted butter and process until almonds are finely chopped. Press almond mixture firmly onto bottom and 1-inch up sides of an 8-inch diameter springform pan with 2½-inch sides. Bake the crust until light brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer crust in pan to a rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
MAKE FILLING: If using whole water packed chestnuts, drain chestnuts thoroughly first, or use vacuum-packed chestnuts: Cut enough chestnuts into ¼ to ½-inch pieces to measure 1 cup; place these scattered over the bottom of the cooled crust and set aside. Reserve remaining chestnuts for topping. Using electric mixer, beat room temperature cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until very smooth. Beat in eggs and yolk, one at a time. Add in the sweetened chestnut paste and mix well. Spoon cream cheese mixture over the chestnuts in the crust. Place springform pan on a baking sheet.
Bake cheesecake until center is just set, about 45 minutes. Cool cheesecake 30 minutes. Chill uncovered until cold, about 3 hours, then cover. (Cheesecake can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
MAKE TOPPING: Cut around sides of pan to loosen cheesecake; release pan side. Beat whipping cream in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream into a pastry bag fitted with medium star tip. Pipe rosettes of cream around the edge of cake. Place one reserved chestnut piece on each rosette.
NOTES: This cheesecake may not be inexpensive, but it is so heavenly that I believe (for a special occasion) it is well worth it!
Where to find the Sweetened Chestnut Paste? Be advised that Chestnut Puree and Chestnut Paste seem to be synonymous, and labeling from other countries does not differentiate between sweetened and unsweetened. Read labels carefully! Often, online there are places where you can read a label. The brand I have gotten most often is Clement Faugiere (sweetened), and I know that brand works well (17.6 ounces for around $11.50 at Amazon.com). Some people online suggested finding whole vacuum-packed chestnuts at Asian markets. Someone else said they carry them at Fairway markets. Anyone lucky enough to have access to Williams Sonoma can usually get the vaccuum jar of whole, peeled chestnuts.
This is one of my most favorite cakes, for various reasons. One, it is always moist. Two, the flavors together are just superb. Three, depending on finess of chopping, the nuts and dates and apples give a nice texture. Even if chopped very fine, it is still just the best, for moistness and flavor!
Serves 12 to 16
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups sugar
4 cups fresh apples, peeled, grated
2 cups pecans, chopped
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream Cheese Icing
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in apples, pecans, and dates. Add eggs, melted butter and vanilla. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 3 minutes.
Pour mixture into two greased 8 or 9-inch pans, greased bundt pan or greased muffin pans or papers. If making in an 8-inch round pan, I spray the pan with cooking spray, then trace around the pan onto parchment paper, cut out the parchment rounds and set them into the pans and re-spray the parchment with cooking spray. This ensures that the cake definitely WILL NOT stick to the bottom!
Fresh Apple Pecan Date Cake, above
Made into Mini-Cupcakes, below
Luscious Bundt Coffeecake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and mix well.
Sift together flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Grease a 10-inch tube or bundt pan.
Mix together the chopped nuts, the 2 teaspoons sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle ½ of this topping into the greased pan. (See notes.) Put in half the batter - this requires "plopping" spoonfuls of the batter into the pan as the batter is very thick. Then carefully smooth it to fill in any gaps. Tapping the pan on the countertop helps. Pour on the rest of the "topping" and again plop spoonfuls into the pan till all batter is used.
Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the cake if desired.
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: Replace the flour with your preferred gluten-free flour mixture and add in 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Mix and bake as directed. (Sometimes baking is a little bit longer than normal, but since the texture and moistness is so wonderful, I can wait those few more minutes!)
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Luscious Bundt Coffeecake,