Blood Orange, Almond and Ricotta Cake

I’m hosting a dinner party in a few weeks, and this always means that I’m looking for delicious ideas for all the meal parts, but especially dessert.  This was so beautiful and different looking that I thought I might serve it, but being the naturally risk-averse person that I am, decided to “test” it first before finding out three hours before dinner that the recipe failed me or anything unexpected like that.

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THANK GOODNESS I did, since this ended up taking nearly twice the amount of time it claimed it would in baking, and I definitely needed an extra orange to get that amount of juice.  All in all, a delicious cake that is rapidly being devoured.

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Ingredients

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon water
3 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
3 blood oranges
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (165 grams) ricotta
1/3 cup (45 grams) cornmeal
1 cup (135 grams) firm-packed almond flour or meal
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup apricot jam

Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Stir brown sugar and water together so they form a thick slurry. Pour into prepared cake pan and spread thin. Set aside.

Whip egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until they hold thick peaks. Set aside.

Place granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Finely zest all 3 oranges over it.

Cut oranges in half. Cut one of the halves into paper-thin slices and arrange slices over brown sugar base in cake pan. Juice other 5 halves (to get about 1/3 cup juice) and set juice aside.

Add butter to zest and granulated sugar in large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer (you can use same beaters you just did for egg whites) until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat to combine. Add juice and ricotta; mix until smooth. Sprinkle salt over batter, then add almond flour and cornmeal and mix until just combined. Gently fold in egg whites.

Scoop batter in large dollops over prepared cake pan base. Gently spread batter flat, trying not to disturb orange slices underneath. Bake in heated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  (The original recipe calls for 35-40 minutes but my cake was waaaaaay undercooked at that point and had to keep cooking and cooking it!)

Cool cake in pan on rack for 5 minutes, and then run a knife around the side and invert onto a cake plate. If any orange slices don’t come out easily, just gently arrange them on the top of the cake. If desired, heat jam until loose and brush over cake top for a glossier finish. Let cool and cut into slices. Tastes good at room temperature or after being chilled.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

No Bake Nutella Cheesecake

I wasn’t planning on making any special desserts for Valentine’s Day, mainly because I had just made a week’s worth of post-dinner desserts in the form of pot de creme.  However, when Lisa sent me this round-up of recipes, I knew that I had to make the Nutella cake.  The thought of  basically taking a tub of Nutella and then not having to bake anything to create a dessert was too tempting to pass up.
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This cake vanished in a matter of days, and was wonderfully dense and like eating blocks of fudge on top of a graham cracker like crust.  I would probably make it with a graham cracker crust next time. Thanks to this recipe, I also learned what Digestives are.  True to their name, apparently they were originally used to help with digestion!  (A product name that describes exactly what it does? Brilliant.)

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While I could have added Hazelnuts, I couldn’t seem to find them in my grocery store and had not thought to add them to my nuts.com order, and as it turns out – I think it was much better without the extra nuts!
Ingredients
  • one 8.8-ounce package of Digestive cookies, or substitute graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies
  • 75grams (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) soft unsalted butter
  • 400grams (one 371-gram jar is fine) Nutella, at room temperature, divided
  • 100grams (2/3 cup) hazelnuts, well-toasted and chopped (see note), divided
  • 500grams (two 8-ounce packages is fine) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 60grams (1/2 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Directions
  1. Break the digestives into the bowl of a processor, add the butter and a 15-milliliter/1 tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump.
  2. Tip into a 23-centimeter/9-inch round springform and press into the base either using your hands or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.
  3. Beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.
  4. Take the springform out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.

Harvest Food: Rhubarb Cake

So while reading the Financial Times weekend edition, I came across their food column describing the foods that were traditionally served in rural France to all those toiling for the wine harvest.  

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It sounded so idyllic — recreating the “I Love Lucy” sketch to crush the grapes beneath my feet while being fed leg of lamb and this rhubarb cake.  When the reverie was over, I recognized that being out in the fields in the hot September sun was probably not something I would have enjoyed, but it didn’t stop me from making this delicious rhubarb cake in my air conditioned apartment.

When I first read this, I thought, “alas” the rhubarbs have packed up and moved on since they’re more of an early summer kind of act.  However, I then ran across to the grocery store, and lo and behold, and entire stack of rhubarb stems already trimmed of the poisonous leaves (who knew?).

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My husband laughed with me as I hoarded all of the rhubarb stalks in sight, and I’m pretty sure I can now confidently say that I cleaned out the last of the rhubarb.

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When making the batter, I thought — surely I just didn’t measure all the grams out correctly (while also thinking, why do I subscribe to a British newspaper with all their grams!!!) since the batter was so small in volume, and barely covered my 9″ springform pan (or the 23ish cm pan as the recipe calls for).
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However, rest assured, it is just the right amount, and the result will be a wonderful cake where the batter rises and the rhubarb falls to blend into each other with a wonderful, rustic simplicity.

This recipe is supposedly from the Rhône region of France, known for its dry and delectable wines (think Viognier, Cinsault, Carignan).

Ingredients*

110g (3.88 oz) plain flour
60g (2.12 oz) caster sugar
3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cooking oil (a light olive or sunflower oil is suitable)
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
750g-1kg (~2 lb) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into short equal lengths
For the caramel sauce:
125g (4.4 oz) sugar
90g (3.17 oz) butter
1 egg

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 445-450 degrees F. Mix all the ingredients, except the fruit, together in a bowl to make quite a soft, almost runny, dough.
  2. Butter a 9″ round springform tin. Sprinkle with flour. Spread the mixture into it. Place the rhubarb pieces on top of the mixture. It is a little difficult to be accurate about the amount of rhubarb, which can give off a lot of liquid — but bear in mind it is a very soft cake. The sharpness of the rhubarb will be offset by the caramel.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until golden. (It will rise a little.) Meanwhile, prepare the caramel sauce. Melt the sugar and butter together in a small pan. Remove from the heat, cool a little, then stir in the egg. When you take the cake out of the oven, pour this sauce over it.
  4. Put it under a hot grill for two minutes or until the sauce has caramelized. Watch it carefully, as it burns easily. Leave the cake to cool. It may be eaten warm or cold.

From the Financial Times.

Note: I used a scale and measured everything out in grams, but I included the exact conversion to ounces here.