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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Twisting up our favorite holiday

Joy of joys, we have reached hump day and this time next week we will be preparing for Thanksgiving! Who's excited? I know I am! I've looked into some of my favorite newspapers to see what if they've started talking about Thanksgiving. Each paper is taking a different twist on holiday desserts: The New York Times is talking chocolate; The Washington Post is talking White House traditions; and the San Francisco Chronicle is talking apples. Here are a few to try at home:

White House Sticky Toffee Pudding
The Washington Post, November, 14,2012

For the pudding
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature, plus more for the ramekins
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 9 ounces dates, preferably Medjool
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten, at room temperature
For the sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
For the pudding: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter eight 8-ounce (1-cup) ramekins.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Coarsely chop the dates, discarding the pits. Combine the dates and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, adjusting the heat so the water is boiling slowly. Transfer the dates and water to a food processor and process to form a smooth puree.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the eggs, beating until well incorporated. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated. Add the date puree a little at a time, beating to combine.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins. Bake just until a cake tester comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes; do not overbake. Transfer the puddings to a rack to cool to room temperature.

For the sauce: 
  1. Combine the cream, sugar and corn syrup in a deep medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil, then reduce the heat to medium and boil for 10 minutes; if you want a thick sauce, boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter until it has melted.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat, but keep it in a warm place while the puddings are cooling.
  3. Serve the puddings at room temperature and pass the warm sauce on the side.

Chocolate Souffle Cake with Candied Squash Compote
Melissa Clark, The New York Times

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Ground clove, as needed
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 280 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 65 grams granulated sugar (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  1. In a very large skillet, combine the syrup, honey, cinnamon and a pinch of clove. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the skillet and drop in the pod. Bring mixture to a simmer. Add the squash in a single layer. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until juices thicken to a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder.
  3. In a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine the chocolate, butter and salt and cook until melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla and remove from heat.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until creamy, about 1 minute. In a clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites until they just hold their shape. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar on high speed until they hold soft peaks
  5. Fold the yolks into the melted chocolate. Fold in half the whites to lighten the mixture; once combined, fold in the remaining whites. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until barely set in the center, about 25 minutes. Cool completely.
  6. Slice a knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan to release it. Transfer cake to a platter. Slather top of cake with crème fraîche. Spoon squash and syrup over cake. Slice into thin slivers (it is very rich) and serve.

Apple Cardamom Pound Cake
Craig Lee for SF Chronicle

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups Roasted Apples (see recipe below)
  • Apple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter or grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, on the bottom.
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cardamom into a bowl. Stir in the salt and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth, about 1 minute in an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. In three additions, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture, making sure the batter is combined before the next addition. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the apple pieces.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of apples over the top of the batter.
  6. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 65-75 minutes.
  7. During the last 10 minutes the cake is in the oven, stir together the sugar and apple juice in a small pot. Bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside until the cake has finished baking.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven. Without delay, run a knife around the inside edge of the cake then invert the cake and pan onto a cutting board or rack. Remove the pan and the parchment paper.
  9. Make about 12 holes in the bottom of the cake with a skewer or toothpick while the cake is still warm. With a pastry brush, brush half of the syrup onto the cake. Carefully turn the cake over and make more holes and brush on the remaining syrup. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

The pound cake should be stored at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It can be made a day or two ahead.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or caramel sauce.

Happy baking!

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