Nutty, Sweet and Delicious!

There’s just something that beurre noisette (black butter) adds to food that cannot be explained. It’s almost likes its a form umami in its own right. In this video, chef Toni Lynn Dickinson from my Alma Mater, The French Culinary Institute at The International Culinary Center, shows us how to make a classically French, financier — a small cake with lots of flavor punch. In addition, she gives a quick recipe on how to make sorbet. Enjoy!

Rummaging Through Memories and Rum Cake

The combination of humid heat and an injury that has left me feeling almost geriatric has wiped me out of all exuberance. However, a quick glance over at a Puerto Rican newspaper’s website left me with a sense of whimsy when I saw a recipe for a classic Caribbean cake.

In most parts of the world there’s an idea about what is cool weather cooking and warm weather cooking however, when it’s hot all year round, there’s no such thing as seasonal cooking at all–It’s always going to be hot. Of course, its cooler in the “winter,” but its still technically warm and thus no one squirms much when you stick a cake in the oven mid-summer.

Anyway, just last year Mirna’s Cakes closed. A company known for their kiosk in malls where they sold rum cakes covered in a sickly sweet glaze were a welcome treat no matter the occasion. Although, I always found the cakes to be too dark (most likely baked in a Teflon pan) and the icing to be much too cloying, I still loved them. No one in PR calls them rum cake. In fact, I think the sugar-high crowd almost always misses their boozy reality. Pre-glazing a cake with a drunken simple syrup is simply how we do things and so it’s not a “rum cake.” At least not like we know the ones from the Virgin Islands (both the US and British) are. Those are so boozed that one should have to show ID prior to consumption.

There is not a chance in heck that I’ll turn the oven on this week unless I want to risk my roommate stacking my eviction, but I might consider it some time before autumn. Reason being that this cake brings me two memories and those are of my mother begging me to bring her one when going to visit her in Los Angeles and of the flavors of my childhood. I highly recommend this recipe which I’ve translated into English from El Nuevo Dia’s website. This simple bundt cake is perfect for a potluck, a party, a simple dinner gathering or as cake to lay on the counter for when hunger pangs or for any time at all.

Rum Cake:
2 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ Stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 Cup buttermilk
Zest of one lemon (I recommend ½ lime ½ lemon as usually key limes are used)
Zest of 2 oranges
1 cup chopped walnuts (or almonds or non at all)

1) Pre-heat oven to 350˚F and grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
2) In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients.
3) In another large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one waiting until each egg is fully combined.
4) Slowly alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk beating slowly with a wooden spoon or mixer. Mix until just combined.
5) Fold in the zests and nuts and place in the pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Syrup:
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 cup sugar
5 or 6 Tablespoons of rum

1) In a small sauce pan on top of low-medium heat, combine all the ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
2) Remove from heat and add rum.
3) Glaze cake while still warm and prior to un-molding. Once cooled, un-mold and serve just as is or top with a simple glaze.

Icing (provided by me, not Endi.com):
1 Cup confectioners sugar
¼ Cup fresh squeezed citrus juice

Slowly add juice to sugar while stirring, being careful not to add all of it. Just add it until you’ve reached a desired consistency. You may need to add more juice, but not likely.

When the Iron Strikes Hot, Make Ice Cream!

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream (Dairy-Free)

It’s been screaming hot in these parts as of late and since sticking oneself in the freezer isn’t exactly an option thus I’ve decided to make ice cream. Unlike most of the US, in NYC the ice cream truck doesn’t drive around chiming music in effort to attract a swarm of children, but instead it parks itself on various street corners. Some are the classic Mr. Softy trucks and the rest either offer gourmet custard style treats (Van Leeuwen and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck are two great ones) or like Yogo, they serve frozen yogurt — both the traditional sweet kind and the tart. As much as I love the convenience, I don’t often want to walk around and find a truck and anyway, nothing beats the home made kind!

Since ice cream making is a process, today’s experiment is not ready. In the mean while, check out this wacky recipe I came up with a few years ago for PastryScoop.com. I’m not sure if the website is still running, but as long as its still open, it’s a great resource for lovers of pastry. Chocolate Bacon Ice Cream with Smoked Caramel Sauce is much more delicious than it sounds and I promise you that you’ll love it. Click here for the article and recipe.