Monday, November 15, 2010

Maple-Gingerbread Layer Cake with Salted Maple Caramel Sauce

A few weekends ago I was invited over to my friend Alex and Laura’s house for a dinner party with a sommelier from the Beverly Hills restaurant CUT.
Two other couples were invited, so we decided to each bring a food course. My food course..of course..was dessert!
For such a sophisticated occasion I wanted to bake a sophisticated dessert. Little did I know what I got myself into...
I found this recipe in Bon Appétit’s October 2010 issue. The photo of the cake looked gorgeous! The ingredients and directions seemed fairly simple as well…
Well did any of you know maple sugar is the hardest ingredient to find..and most people order this sugar online!?
Luckily LA is full of large chain and small boutique grocery stores. After searching Gelson’s, Ralph’s, Trader Joes, Whole Food’s and Bristol Farms I finally found this special ingredient at Vicente Foods!

This bottle of sugar should have been placed with all the spices…because it only came in that size/amount! $18.00 for 1 cup of freaking maple sugar!
I caved in and purchased only one of these..choosing to save it for the frosting, rather than the cake. I decided to take my chances on making maple sugar on my own!
Crystallized ginger is also another tough ingredient to find out here…luckily Vicente Foods had this one as well!

After I got over the fact that I would not have the exact ingredients as directed, I began to chill out and bake.
Since I didn’t have maple sugar for the cake I added maple syrup and a bit of brown sugar and extra regular sugar to the batter.
I tasted the batter with a spoon..and it actually tasted quite pleasant!

As the cake was cooling I made the frosting. Once the cake had cooled completely, I frosted the cake as directed by Bon Appétit.
I frosted the bottom layer, then made the caramel sauce…(as directed by bon appétit), then drizzled caramel sauce on top of the bottom layer.
I then placed the second half of the cake on top, frosted the top and sides of the cake. Next I added the pecans on the side of the cake-also as suggested by Bon Appétit-and then “attempted” to drizzle the caramel sauce on top  to complete the cake…as directed  by the infamous Bon Appétit.
Well that was a horrible suggestion!

The cake looked beautiful, and then as I added the second layer of caramel drizzle as was clumpy, and slid off the sides of the cake…taking the frosting and pecans down with it! Ugh!

I decided to stop, put the cake in the fridge overnight and then try to touch up the cake with the remainder of the frosting as best as I could before heading to the party.
If you are a pro at working with caramel sauce then I suppose you should include it. But I only recommend adding the caramel drizzle on the bottom layer.
I was really upset that my cake did not look as the picture in Bon Appétit did…but Laura kindly told me that the pictures in the magazine are just painted on anyway..ha ..not so sure about that but thank you for making me feel better about myself and the finished product!

Although the cake was not the most attractive thing to look at the end product-the taste- turned out great..even without the use of maple sugar!
Below are the ingredients and directions given by Bon Appétit! Good luck & enjoy!
10 Servings PREP: 1 hour
TOTAL: 3 hours (includes cooling time)
Maple- Coated Pecans
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B) or Grade A my store did not have B
Coarse kosher salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger (1 1/2 to 2 ounces)
1 cup maple sugar (I used 1/2 reg. sugar, 1/2 brown sugar, and a dash of maple syrup!)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2/3 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
3/4 cup hot water
1 1/3 cups chilled crème fraîche
1/3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup maple sugar
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
Salted Maple-Caramel Sauce (click for recipe)

Maple-Coated Pecans:
Place large piece of foil on work surface. Combine nuts and maple syrup in heavy medium skillet (do not use nonstick) over medium-high heat and bring to boil, tossing to coat. Cook until syrup is dark amber and almost cooked away and thickly coats nuts, tossing often, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Scrape nuts onto foil. Working quickly with 2 forks, separate nuts. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Cool until coating is crisp and hard, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Pecans can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Combine first 4 ingredients in processor; add ginger. Blend until ginger is finely ground, about 1 minute. Using mixer, beat maple sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time (batter may look curdled). Stir 3/4 cup hot water and molasses in small bowl. Beat dry ingredients into butter mixture in 4 additions alternately with molasses mixture in 3 additions.
Divide batter between prepared pans (about 2 1/2 cups each). Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks

Combine crème fraîche, cream, and both sugars in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until very thick and stiff. 
Cut around pan sides to loosen cake layers; turn out onto racks. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread with 1 1/3 cups frosting. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons caramel sauce. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining frosting smoothly over top and sides of cake. Drizzle top of cake with 3 tablespoons sauce. Cover with cake dome; chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead; keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.
Cut pecans into pieces or leave whole. Press pecans into frosting on sides of cake. Cut cake into wedges. Spoon sauce over.



Anonymous said...

I can personally testify that this cake is AMAZING and I had 4 pieces (3 drunk on wine that night).


M.E. said...

loved it! laura got so mad! lol ; )