A Harmony of Flavors

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Cake Worth Making: Hazelnut Sweet Potato Torte

It's been a few days since I have been on this blog. I have been busy with a few new recipes, photo shoots and other things. I had this idea for a cake; it had been percolating through my brain for a couple of weeks, and wanted to give it a try. I finally got down to it and had some excellent results. I had found a recipe some time back by Chef Eddy Van Damme for a carrot cake made with nut meals. I wondered, though.

I made a cake using sweet potato about a year ago, and it was an excellent cake. The sweet potato was cooked and then pureed and used in the cake, making it very moist. But, I wondered, what if I didn't cook the sweet potato? What if I just shredded it like the carrots for a carrot cake? I wanted to put this idea to the test, though I couldn't imagine why it wouldn't work. I love the idea of using nut meal as the basis for a cake, as it is more like a torte; a heavier, but moist and rich torte cake. Flavors were another consideration. What flavors would go well with sweet potato and nut meal? Ginger, for sure. Vanilla is always a great background flavor. One other thought was that the cake uses one cup of regular flour, to bind everything together. Once cup is not a lot, and I decided to go with a Gluten-Free flour mixture instead, making the cake completely gluten-free.

I went ahead with the cake, but decided to utilize a square cupcake tin my sister-in-law had given me. I knew the cake would not grow a lot. Being a nut torte, if it did rise too high, it would just deflate. I had in my mind the picture of cute little square tortes. I went ahead with the recipe as I amended. I used half hazelnut meal and half almond meal. Next time I will use all hazelnut meal, as I think it would define the flavors more. Not that there was a single thing wrong with the flavors I ended up with! Check out the recipe for this Hazelnut Sweet Potato Torte on my website.

The baking time for the square cupcakes was 20 minutes at 375 degrees. I had some batter left over after filling the square pans, so I put it into regular round cupcake tins and got 6 more. These were slightly smaller that the squares and were done in 15 minutes. The cake batter could be spread onto a half sheet pan and made about 1/2 inch thick. This way the cake can be cut into bar or square shapes and topped with icing in some decorative manner, just like the cupcakes I made. Another option, and one I would like to try, is using round cake pans, either three or four, for thin torte layers, and stacking them with orange curd between the layers. I am making myself salivate, and we haven't yet finished with the last cake yet. Another day.

Meanwhile, I had the little cupcakes in the oven and turned my mind to icing. What would go well topping these flavors? I have wanted to try using matcha green tea powder in an icing for a while, so that was my first idea. Then, because there was ginger in the cake, and ginger and green tea sounded heavenly together, I decided on adding ginger. At the last minute I thought of a praline pecan flavor extract I had in the cabinet and used about 3 drops of that. It made the frosting taste absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, it totally eclipsed the flavor of green tea and ginger. Next time I make that combo, I will not use the praline extract, or just use it alone. Meanwhile, I still called my icing Matcha Green Tea Ginger Icing. And it was exquisite with the cakes.

As a topper for the cake, back to thinking of what goes well with sweet potato, I thought of some little  marshmallows in the pantry. I took a couple of dozen and set them onto parchment on a baking sheet and broiled them till they were puffed and browned, about 1 minute. They completely deflated when they cooled, but they were still chewy and flavorful, and I topped each little cake with one roasted marshmallow. Yum.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.