Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Walnut Cake

I confess I don't often eat desserts. It's not that I don't love them - I do. But if the meal is good - and it often is - I often don't have much interest in eating more at the end of it. I look at all those photos you guys post showing spectacular desserts and I drool at the sight of them. But the same problem arises each and every time I'm done with a meal - I'm full! Boring, I know, but what can I do?

Now, the obvious solution would be to wait a bit, let the meal settle, and then go back for dessert. It works, and I've occasionally done that. Thanksgiving is the perfect example. Sitting around the table with 13 family members, all talking and laughing and sharing stories - it's easy to take time eating the meal, which many of us helped to make. It's one of the reasons I love this holiday. I get together with my family, whom I love, and it's about being together and sharing a meal - not about shopping for gifts.

At the end of that meal, we were treated to the traditional pumpkin pies, which my eldest brother has perfected. This year he experimented with 2 different crusts, both of which were perfect.

And then came my sister's walnut cake.

When I looked at it, I thought it might be somewhat dry. WRONG! It was perfect. I mean perfect as in this would be the cake to bring to any gathering and enjoy watching people's faces as they took their first bite. And then their second slice. And then watch them eying that last slice, debating whether or not to be polite and let someone else have it, or bold enough to reach for it themselves, halfheartedly offering to share. My sister, who has mastered the art of baking as well as anyone I've met, always offers an alternative to pumpkin pie for those who aren't partial to it. Every year it's terrific. This year it was an understated miracle.
I'm not certain where she got the recipe, but here it is as she sent it to me:

OLIVER'S GRANDMOTHER'S WALNUT CAKE WITH SAUT√ČED PEARS AND CINNAMON CREAM
Serves 6-8
Cake:
1 stick of unsalted butter
3C walnuts
1C sugar
5 eggs, room temp.
1/2 C flour
2 Tbls. Kirsch (I used 1 Tbls. Poire William)
xx sugar
350 degrees
Use 2 tea. of the butter to grease a 9" round baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Use 1 tea. of the butter to grease the paper.
Put walnuts on baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes til they darken slightly. Cool. Grind in processor to fine powder. In a large bowl, beat remaining butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add nuts, flour, and kirsch. Mix well and pour into prepared pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes, depending upon oven. When cool, dust with xx sugar.
Sauteed Pears:
2 Tbls. unsalted butter
6 small or 4 large Bosc pears, cored, peeled, and cut into 1/4" dice
2 Tbls. brown sugar
3/4 tea. ground cinnamon
1 tea. ground nutmeg
2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
In a saute pan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat and cook the pears, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or just until softened. Sprinkle with the sugar. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice and mix well. Cover to keep warm.
Cream:
1C heavy cream
1Tbls. sugar
1 tea. ground cinnamon
Using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, whip the cream and sugar until the cream is thick but not dry. Add the cinnamon and continue whipping until the cream is the desired consistency. Serve the cake topped with the pears and the cream.

9 comments:

Penny said...

Oh my, Toni. This cakes sounds perfect. I rarely eat dessert either, but I certainly would be tempted by this. I think it is the addition of cooked pears and cinnamon dusted whipped cream. I think I will make it for one of our Christmas get togethers.

Impromptu Diva said...

HI Toni,

I have a confession to make too.. I've always been intimidated to bake.. for some reason, my baking skill level is zero (if there's such a thing!) But I will try this Walnut Cake over the weekend ..(with fingers crossed that it will turn out good hahaha!)

Yes family gatherings is a time to catch up... I love that feeling of surrounded by people that you love!

Toni said...

Penny - You won't be disappointed. Trust me on this one.

Hi Diva - This is something that even a zero could muster and people would be rolling back for seconds!

myfrenchkitchen said...

Can you believe it...I've only had pumpkin pie(delicious) once in my whole life and that was for a thanksgiving outside of America!! I'm not a baker either, but unlike you, I first look at the dessert menu...
This looks like a delicious cake and worth trying.
Ronelle

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This sounds lovely, Toni! I don't think I have ever had a walnut cake!

Toni said...

Ronelle - I would vote for this cake over pumpkin pie any day.

Jenn - Well, if you're going to try one, this is a fantastic place to start.

cookbookapprentice said...

This sounds just delicious! I've never heard of Kirsch before, what is that? I admire your willpower in the dessert department. I am always full after dinner but alas my dessert eating is never about hunger. I wait about an hour and then eat it. Too often.

Toni said...

Cookbookapprentice - Thanks for stopping by my blog! Kirsch is a cherry brandy, and as far as I know is used primarily in baking. It might show up in a cocktail, but I don't know about that.

Rachael said...

I love you, I love you, I love you.
And now I know why I liked the cake more last year than this year. She changed it from hazelnuts to walnuts! LOL

So if anyone wants a variation of Toni's sister's Walnut Cake, (AKA, My Auntie Shesh's Hazelnut Cake) I have the recipe here! Hazelnut cake