Friday, November 12, 2010

November Project: Spiced Date Cake with Mulled Wine Mascarpone Cream

A cake made with dates and pecans is dangerously close to being a fruitcake. Honestly, I have never had fruitcake, but I am familiar with its legendary status as something you only give to people you hate or someone in need of extra bricks for their house. The dense brown cake, studded with bright green and red gelatinous gems is festive, but a hard sell on a buffet table. So, with the knowledge that you may turn up your nose at this unsexy sounding dessert - I present the absolutely delicious, Spiced Date Cake. It is moist and flavorful and redolent of the holidays: mulled wine, cloves, cinnamon, a hint of citrus, toasted nuts… Ok, so it’s a fruitcake.

The inspiration came from a walnut date cake my friend Sophia served with tea one afternoon. The cake was perfectly simple the way it was, but to me, it cried out to be messed with. I have added pumpkin, various spice mixes, other dried fruits, tinkered with the nut choice, etc. The inspiration for this version comes from Amanda Hesser’s Apician Spiced Dates in Cooking for Mr. Latte. I poached the dates before chopping them and adding them to the batter, then used the poaching liquid in the mascarpone cream. The result is a sophisticated and yummy dessert, perfect for the holidays. It’s not bad with breakfast either.
 **Added bonus: It is gluten free, so it will make your non pie eaters very happy!

Serves 9

2 cups red wine, a fruity, medium body wine works well
2 2" cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 cups dates
2 cups pecans
4 eggs
6 tablespoons muscovado sugar
1/4 cup rice flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and sugar an 8x8 pans or a 8” round.

2. Combine the first seven ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and gently poach the dates for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the dates in the poaching liquid for about 20 minutes.

3. Toast the pecans in the oven, about 7- 10 minutes. After they have cooled, put them in a food processor and chop them until they are like sand, some larger pieces are ok, no need to pulverize them.

4. Remove the dates from the poaching liquid, taking care to leave all of the spices in the pot. Chop the dates very small.

5. Crack the eggs in to a bowl and beat them. Add dates, pecans, sugar, rice flour, baking soda, orange zest and pinch of salt and mix everything together.

6. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. It will feel soft to the touch in the center, when it cools it will firm up.

7. Remove cake from the oven and let it cool before serving. Wrapped tightly in saran wrap and left on the counter, the cake will stay moist for 3 days.


Poaching liquid from Apician Date Cake Recipe
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
Pinch salt

1. Add honey to the poaching liquid, bring to a boil and reduce by half. Strain and allow to cool. Discard the spices.

2. Whip the cream until it has medium stiffness. Add mascarpone,1 ½ tablspoons poaching liquid, powdered sugar and salt. Whip for about 30 seconds- just long enough to incorporate all of the ingredients. Depending on the wine you used, you may want to adjust the sugar and poaching liquid. However, do not make it sweet. The mascarpone cream can be made 6 hours ahead. Prepare yourself for the comeback of fruitcake!

1 comment:

  1. This looks and sounds so good (and I love love love that Apician Spiced Dates recipe from Mr Latte) - can't wait to try it!