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Flourless Chocolate Torte with Strawberry Buttercream 


So rich that only a small slice is needed for a serving, this torte is beautiful as well. The cake layers may be made up to 2 days in advance, or wrapped tightly and frozen
for up to 2 months. The buttercream can also be made in advance and covered tightly and refrigerated until needed. This torte may be a bit of a production to make but so worth it for the right occasion.

Makes one (4-layer) 9-inch torte; about 16
servings

CAKE:
¾ cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
8 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
3½ cups pecans, finely ground

STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM FILLING: 
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sidted
½ cup fresh strawberries, pureed
3 tablespoons strawberry preserves

CHOCOLATE GLAZE: 
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
½ cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons safflower oil
¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

FOR DECORATION:
8 whole strawberries of equal size, cut in half lengthwise

Flourless Chocolate Torte with Strawberry Buttercream

Flourless Chocolate Torte with Strawberry Buttercream

Flourless Chocolate Torte sliced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter four 9-inch round pans. Line the bottoms with parchment; butter parchment.

Cream butter till light. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and then the pecans. Divide the batter between the four prepared pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out fudgy, but not wet, about 22 minutes. Tops may crack. (If you do not have four 9-inch pans, bake two layers, turn out onto racks, wash and re-use the pans for the other two layers).

Cool in the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans. Invert cakes onto a rack to cool. Remove and discard parchment. The cake layers can be made up to 2 days in advance. Wrap each layer separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

PREPARE STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM: Using an electric mixer, cream butter and confectioner's sugar till light and fluffy. Add in pureed berries and preserves. This can be prepared in advance and covered and refrigerated. To use, soften at room temperature until spreadable.

Arrange 1 cake layer, bottom side up, on a 9-inch cardboard round, if possible. If no cardboard round is available, place cake on a cake plate, sliding strips of waxed paper under the edges of the cake to keep the plate neat while glazing. Spread 1/3 cup of the buttercream over the layer. Top with another cake layer and repeat.  Do this once more, and then top with the last cake layer, bottom side up.  Pat layers to make them even. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours. If necessary, cut the edges of the cake with a serrated knife to make them even. 

PREPARE CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Heat the chocolate with the water, butter and safflower oil in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water till chocolate melts. Remove from heat and add the cocoa powder and the ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and stir until sugar dissolves and the glaze is smooth. Let cool until thickened, but pourable. Can be prepared one day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to use.

If the cake was placed on a cardboard cake round, place on a rack with waxed paper beneath to catch drippings.  If not on cardboard, place strips of waxed paper under cake edges before glazing. Pour the glaze over the cake, smoothing over sides and top. Discard waxed paper strips, if used.

Cake can be prepared to this point one day in advance and refrigerated.  Remove from fridge and let stand at room temperature for one hour before serving.  When ready to serve, top the cake with 14 to 16 strawberry halves, placed with pointy ends toward center.  Each slice should have one strawberry half on top.


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Rhubarb Cake 

Mom Rawstern sent me a bunch of recipes using rhubarb one year. I made this recipe a couple of years back and it is just wonderful cake, and comes with its own topping recipe.


Makes one (9 x 13-inch) cake

1½ cups rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup oil OR 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk

TOPPING:
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup coconut
2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup milk
½ cup chopped nuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325, if convection). Grease or lightly spray with cooking spray an oven-safe 9 x 13-incch pan. Set aside.

Combine the rhubarb and the ½ cup sugar and set aside. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, the 1½ cups sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Separately whisk together the buttermilk, egg and oil or melted butter. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Add in the reserved rhubarb mixture and fold to combine. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, prepare the topping. Combine all the topping ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring, and boil for 3 minutes. Pour over the warm cake.

NOTES: This type of topping is often broiled once on the cake. If you choose this method, watch closely so as not to burn the topping. Another alternative is to prepare a streusel and strew this over the unbaked cake. This yields a cake with topping already in place.




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Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb Cake, closeup of tender crumb

Rhubarb Pecan Coffeecake 

Using the recipe for the gluten free version of this cake, I made some additions and substitutions and made this delicious coffeecake. It is amazing how differently the cakes come out, yet both are equally delicious. It's rhubarb time, so give this recipe a try.

Makes one 9 x 13 pan

½ cup butter
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2½ cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup chopped pecans

Streusel Topping:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
4 - 5 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Rhubarb Pecan Coffeecake
Rhubarb Pecan Coffeecake

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Sour Cream Polenta Cake 
with Honey Orange Glaze  and Mascarpone Whipped Cream

This cake comes out with an extremely tender crumb and a nice bit of texture, due to the cornmeal. The Honey Glaze can be made with Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, or just with orange juice. The Mascarpone Whipped Cream (found under Frostings and Fillings) is a wonderful topping when you don't want the high sweetness of a regular icing. The mascarpone lends a stabilizing effect and a bit of tang.

Makes one 9-inch single-layer cake

CAKE:
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon orange zest in thin matchsticks
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds, coarsely smashed
1 stick unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

GLAZE:
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier Liqueur, optional

Sour Cream Polenta Cake with Honey Orange Glaze
Sour Cream Polenta Cake with Honey Orange Glaze and Mascarpone Whipped Cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray the parchment. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. Once creamy, add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the sour cream and vanilla to combine. Add in the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the Honey Orange Glaze. Combine the two ingredients and heat in the microwave on short bursts. Once cake is done, set on the counter and with a pastry brush, spread the Honey Orange Glaze over the hot cake repeatedly, until it is all used. Allow the cake to cool. Remove the rim of the springform pan and quickly flip the cooled cake over onto a rack. Remove the parchment and then set a cake plate over the cake and flip it back over, so the top remains upwards.
Serve wedges of the cake with the Mascarpone Whipped Cream.


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Black Sesame Matcha Cheesecakes 

Made in ramekins, these individual cheesecakes have no crust. They unmold beautifully, given a few seconds to slip out onto a plate for serving. They are so very creamy. No one flavor jumps out, yet they are so good. Black Sesame is very good for you, and makes a nice change from poppy seeds, giving a little bit of Oriental flair.

Makes 6 (6-ounce) or 8 (4-ounce) ramekins

12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon lime zest, grated very fine
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons Matcha Green Tea Powder
pinch salt
1 cup sour cream
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
Extra sugar, for dusting

 
Black Sesame Matcha Cheesecakes
Black Sesame Matcha Cheesecakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 6 (6-ounce) or 8 (4-ounce) ramekins. Dust them with sugar, tapping out excess. Set the ramekins in a large roaster pan that will hold water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Heat a large pot of water and keep hot.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and green tea powder. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add int he lime zest and combine. Add the sugar  mixture and beat just to combine. Add in the sour cream, then the 3 eggs, beating just until combined after each one. Fold in the black sesame seeds.

Fill the ramekins with the cheesecake mixture. Set the roaster pan on the oven rack and carefully pour in the hot water into the roaster pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the cheesecakes for 20 minutes for the smaller ramekins or 25 minutes for the larger ramekins. They should be set at the edges and still jiggle a bit in the center.

To unmold, run a sharp knife around the edges of the cheesecakes. They will start to spin a bit in the mold. Turn mold over onto a dessert plate. Give them a minute until they release.  Serve with a twist of lime or a dollop of whipped cream and a mint sprig.

NOTES: This recipe might seem impossible if one does not keep black sesame and matcha green tea on hand. These can be just as easily made in vanilla, by omitting the sesame and matcha and adding in a teaspoon or more of vanilla extract and/or vanilla beans.  Another option is coffee. Starbuck's has a wonderfully fine instant coffee powder that could be added to the sugar in the first step instead of matcha powder. Cracked chocolate nibs would be a lovely addition instead of the sesame seeds. Try this out and see.


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Wacky Cake 

This one's been around for a long time. We heard about it from my Aunt and made it back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was fun back then and a great memory now. A great cake to make with your kids, this cake is totally dairy and egg free, too!

Makes one 8 x 8-inch square single-layer cake

1½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cold water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the first 5 ingredients into an ungreased 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Make three wells; make one larger, one medium sized and one small. Into the large well, pour the vegetable oi; Into the medium well, pour the vinegar. Into the small well, pour the vanilla. Pour the cup of water over all and mix to combine. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, then ice with your favorite chocolate frosting.


Wacky Cake and Mayonnaise Cake
Wacky Cake (lighter cake) and Mayonnaise Cake (darker cake)

NOTES: If making this with kids, it is fun to have them pour in the three liquids into the wells, as my Mom had us do. This cake is meant to be left int he pan and iced in place. If you want to turn it out of the pan, I would mix the ingredients in a bowl and pour into a greased pan instead. I lined my pan with parchment as added insurance. My reasoning was to try out the Wacky Cake and the Mayonnaise Cake to see how they compared. Both easy cakes.


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Mayonnaise Cake 

Another "oldie-but-goodie" chocolate cake that is really quick and easy to make. The use of mayonnaise in the cake is the substitution for using eggs and oil; no big surprise. This single layer cake turns out moist and richly chocolatey and goes together in 5 minutes.

Makes one 8 or 9-inch square single layer cake

2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup water
1 cup mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Mayonnaise Cake and Wacky Cake

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.

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Hazelnut Sweet Potato Torte 

This cake is made with mainly nuts as the base. Going on the principle of a carrot cake, I used grated raw sweet potato and flavored the cake with cinnamon and ginger. The recipe uses a cup of flour to help balance things out, and for this application (square cupcakes) I used a gluten-free flour mixture. It can be made equally well with regular all-purpose flour. This type of cake does not grow to any significant height. It can be made on a half-sheet sized pan, for a cake about ½ - ¾-inch thick.

Makes 3 - 4 thin 8-inch round torte layers, OR
16 square "cupcakes" OR
20 - 24 regular cupcakes

1¼ cups brown sugar
1½ cups almond flour / almond meal
1½ cups hazelnut flour / hazelnut meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup flour of choice (I used gluten free)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
3 eggs
1½ cup melted unsalted butter
12 ounces finely grated sweet potato (about 3 cups grated)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl combine the first 8 ingredients and whisk together to combine; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs for 5 minutes at high speed, until thick and pale. Lower speed to very low and pour in the melted butter and the vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until moistened.

If using a half-sheet pan, line it with parchment and spray the parchment with cooking spray. (I lined the square cupcake pans with little parchment squares also, just as added insurance.) If using half-sheet pan, spread the batter evenly over the surface. Cake will be very thin. It can later be sliced and stacked, if desired.


Hazelnut Sweet Potato Tortes

Hazelnut Sweet Potato Tortes,
frosted with Matcha Green Tea Ginger Icing,
topped with toasted miniature marshmallows

It can be made in 8 or 9-inch round pans; line the pans and spread batter thinly in 3 or 4 (8 or 9-inch) round pans. If using cupcake tins, this will make about 20 - 24 cupcakes, depending on how full they are. Bake for about 20 minutes for either the half-sheet pan or the square cupcake pans. For smaller round cupcakes, bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cakes are done with they spring back when lightly pressed, or use the toothpick inserted in center to test for doneness.

NOTES: This cake was made entirely gluten free. I made a Matcha Green Tea Buttercream icing with matcha green tea powder, powdered ginger and a few drops of Praline flavor. Plain vanilla buttercream would be equally as good. Use your favorite icing.


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King Cake 

The King Cake, or King's Cake is traditional in New Orleans at this time of year, with Mardi Gras just around the corner. Old world traditions has this cake showing up from Twelfth Night through to Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. It can be made with a puff pastry dough or a yeast coffee cake dough and filled with various fillings. The fillings most common in New Orleans are a pecan praline or almond paste. This is my own version of a King Cake.

Makes one 12-inch ring cake

CAKE:
3½ - 4 cups all purpose flour
1 packet yeast
¾ cup milk, lukewarm
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks)
6 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt

FILLING:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup pecans, chopped
½ cup flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


King Cake
King Cake, for Mardi Gras
ICING:
1½ cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Icing color and/ or colored sprinkles in gold, green and purple
Mix together ½ cup of the flour and yeast in a small bowl. Pour in the lukewarm milk (not too hot or it will kill the yeast) and whisk to combine. Set aside. In either a heavy duty stand mixer, or by hand, cream the butter and sugar. When fluffy and light, add eggs, one at a time until combined. Add in salt. Pour in the yeast sponge and combine, adding in more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is smooth. Knead for about 7 - 10 minutes until nice and elastic. Cover and set aside to rise until doubled in size; one or two hours.

Once the dough has risen, make the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Flour a surface and turn out dough. Fold over on itself a few times, creating a rough rectangle. Roll out the dough to an approximate 12 x 20 inch rectangle. Sprinkle on the filling; it will not be thick. Roll up from the long edge, dampening the farthest edge with water to help the ends adhere. Grease a baking sheet. Form the long roll into a ring on the baking sheet. Slash through the top layer of the dough at intervals around the ring. Cover and allow to rise for an hour or more. It will be noticeably risen, but not doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Make icing by combining all the icing ingredients except the colorings. The icing is usually left white and gold, green and purple sprinkles are strewn over at intervals. For this cake I separated the icing into three small bowls and tinted each to the appropriate color. Allow the cake to cool for about a half hour before drizzling on the icing. If the cake is too hot, the icing will completely run off the cake.



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Caramelized Sugar Cake 

This cake is delicious with the caramel flavor and a slight chewiness resulting from the caramel in the recipe. The honeyed color is enticing and the flavor is true to the lovely aroma.Take the time to make the Caramel Syrup.

Makes one (2-layer) cake, or one (13 x 9) pan

½ cup shortening
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2½ cups cake flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
3 tablespoons Caramelized Sugar Syrup (recipe below)

Caramelized Sugar Cake
Caramelized Sugar Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Icing
Cream shortening and sugat till light.  Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each.  Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture alternatively with the water, beating smooth after each addition.  Add the sugar syrup and beat thoroughly for 4 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer.

Bake in 2 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely before frosting.

CARAMELIZED SUGAR SYRUP
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup boiling water

Melt (caramelize) the sugar in a heavy saucepan, stirring constantly. When a deep golden brown, remove from heat and SLOWLY add the boiling water. It will splutter alarmingly - keep your distance. Back on heat, stir constantly until all dissolved. Recuce to about ½ cup. Cool. This is enough syrup for both this cake and some left to make a caramel flavored frosting.

NOTES: This recipe can be made substituting your favorite gluten-free flour mixture for the wheat flour. Add 1 teaspoon Xanthan gum and one extra egg yolk to the recipe.

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Chocolate Cake 

I love the flavor of this cake. It is one of the best. The difficulty is that it tends to stick to the pans, so it is best to use parchment to line pans and ensure success. Made equally well with a Gluten-Free flour blend.

Makes two 8-inch cake layers

2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup water
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature


Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch round pans.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment and grease or spray the parchment as well.

Measure the flour, soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and whisk to blend; set aside. In a standing electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy, then add in the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix. Combine the buttermilk and water. Add the dry ingredients, alternately with the liquid ingredients, until completely mixed.

Pour evenly into prepared pans. Tap pans once or twice sharply on counter top, to release air bubbles.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.



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Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Fiesta Cheesecake 

Chocolate and Pumpkin go together very well, and this recipe is no exception.  Check out the zippy spices in the chocolate portions.  They give just that little added pop of flavor to make this cheesecake memprable.  And, it is completely gluten free.

Makes one 9 or 10 inch cheesecake
CHOCOLATE NUT CRUST :
1 cup whole almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

CHEESECAKE FILLINGS:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted, cooled
1½ pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cassia cinnamon
¼ teaspoon pure ancho chile powder
2 cups pumpkin puree
1½ teaspoons cassia cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cloves


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Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Fiesta Cheesecake
Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Fiesta Cheesecake

Make Crust: Preheat oven to 375. Grease the bottom of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan with 3-inch sides. Place almonds, sugar and cocoa into a food processor. Process until the almonds are well ground. Add the butter and process until the mixture makes coarse crumbs. Press crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 - 13 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the crust to cool. Lower oven to 325 degrees.

Make Cheesecake: In the double boiler, melt the 4 ounces chocolate.  Set aside to cool. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese.  Add the sugar and cream well. Add the eggs, beating after each addition.  Add in the cornstarch and vanilla.  Remove one cup of the batter and mix into the melted chocolate, adding in the ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and ancho chile powder.  Set aside.

To the rest of the cheesecake batter add the pumpkin puree, the 1½ teaspoon of cinnamon, the nutmeg, allspice and cloves and blend well.  Pour about ¾ of the pumpkin batter onto the baked crust. Check the chocolate cheesecake batter; if it is too stiff, placeover the pan of simmering water and stir until softened. Pour the chocoate batter over the pumpkin batter in the pan. Top with remaining pumpkin batter.  Using a butter knife or spatula, make a few swirls in the batter to make the marble effect. Do not overmix.  Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the edges are firm, but the center is still jiggly.  Shut oven off, prop oven door open and allow to set in the cooling oven for at least 30 minutes.  Allow to cool completely, then frefrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Can be made  up to4 days in advance.


Chestnut Cheesecake 

A most excellently flavored cheesecake.  Not too sweet, but perfectly rich.  The almond crust is just the right combination, though whichever favorite cheesecake crust you prefer would be fine.

Makes 12 to 16 servings

ALMOND CRUST
1 cup whole almonds, unblanched
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (¼ stick), room temperature

FILLING
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

TOPPING
1 cup chilled whipping cream

Chestnut Cheesecake
Chestnut Cheesecake

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.

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Fresh Apple Pecan Date Cake 

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
2 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
   Cream Cheese Icing

Directions:

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!

SaveSave

Apple Pecan Date Cake
Fresh Apple Pecan Date Cake, above
Made into Mini-Cupcakes, below

Apple Pecan Date Mini Cupcakes

 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 - 60 minutes for a bundt pan.  (For 8-inch cake pans, check at about 35 - 40 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.)  Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto cake plate.  For cupcakes, check after 15 to 20 minutes.

Ice with Cream Cheese Icing, or sprinkle with powdered sugar and decorate with extra pecans.

NOTES:  This is the recipe as I make it.  The Pecans can be substituted with other nuts of choice.  The dates may be substituted with raisins.  The melted butter may be substituted with a cooking oil of choice.

I recently used this recipe to make mini sized cupcakes, using little tart/mini-muffin tins and baking about 12 to 15 minutes.  They turned out great, and I frosted with Cream Cheese Icing, using a large star tip in a pastry bag, making one star on top of each.



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Luscious Bundt Coffeecake
 

Rich and moist; the best coffeecake I have ever tasted.  The recipe can be made easily Gluten-Free by substituting a GF flour.  Well worth trying, I guarantee.

Serves about 12 - 16

1 cup unsalted butter
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped nuts; walnuts or pecans are good
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon



Luscious Bundt Coffeecake
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 | Gluten-Free
Luscious Bundt Coffeecake,
made Gluten-Free