Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Bourbon Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Bourbon Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  It’s the season of pumpkins and gourds. The supermarket has an entire section of the store dedicated to them, with several boxes filled to the brim. I realize they’re in season during this time of year, but the one thing I never could understand is why so many people obsess over something as simple as a pumpkin or pumpkin-spice, for that matter. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been a fan of pumpkin in the first place, per the reason as to why I don’t understand the ways of pumpkin lovers. I’ve always preferred the sweet potato, with its subtle sweetness; oh, how it blends so perfectly well with butter and brown sugar! Oftentimes I feel they don’t get the attention they deserve. Well, until Thanksgiving comes around. There’s almost always a sweet potato pie or casserole involved.

  Instead of adding yet another pumpkin spice recipe to the thousands already out there, I decided on a delicious spiced sweet potato cake made with local sweet potatoes and spiced with cinnamon and allspice. Accompanying the cake is a silky-smooth bourbon maple swiss meringue buttercream. The chocolate ganache is optional, but if you do decide on it, make sure to sprinkle on a generous amount of flaky sea salt to finish. You will thank me later. 


SPICED SWEET POTATO CAKE WITH BOURBON MAPLE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

   cake
380 grams cake flour, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
400 grams raw cane sugar
8-ounces unsalted butter, room temp.
3 large eggs, room temp.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*1 cup mashed sweet potato
¾ cup whole milk, room temp.

*2 medium-small sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

   bourbon-maple swiss meringue buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 cup raw cane sugar
12-ounces unsalted butter, room temp.
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

   chocolate ganache (optional)
6-ounces fine, bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6-ounces heavy cream

Method:

   cake:

  1. Peel and chop two, medium-small sweet potatoes and place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water, the maple syrup, allspice, and cinnamon sticks. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is soft- about 10 minutes. Remove the cooked sweet potato from the water and spices and place in a bowl, then mash with a fork until there are no more clumps. Set aside to cool to room temperature before using.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Grease and line three, 6-inch cake pans.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the sifted cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves; whisk until combined and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the vanilla and beat until just combined. On low speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined(make sure to scrape down the bowl after each addition). Add the cooled sweet potato and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bowl of the mixer once more and add one-third of the milk and one-third of the flour; beat until just combined, then continue to alternate the milk and flour, making sure to end with adding the remaining third of the flour. Pour the batter amongst the three prepared pans and spread about evenly. Bake for 35-43 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or until the cake springs back up after a gentle touch. Cool in the pans 10 minutes, then using a sharp knife to loosen the cake from around the edges, invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

   bourbon maple swiss meringue buttercream:

  1. Create a double boiler by placing a heat-proof mixing bowl over a simmering pot of water(make sure the bowl does not touch the water). Add the egg whites and sugar and stir gently but constantly with a whisk until the mixture reaches 160°F / 70°C on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and beat the mixture on high with an electric mixer (with the whisk attachment), until thick and completely cool to the touch, about 8 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, begin to add the soft butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until combined. Once all the butter is in, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until silky smooth and voluminous. Scrape down the bowl and add the bourbon, maple syrup, and vanilla. Beat on low until smooth and combined.

  chocolate ganache:

  1. Chop the bittersweet chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium bowl. In another (heatproof) bowl, heat the cream until it’s hot to the touch. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and give it a quick stir then let it sit for 10 minutes. Stir until smooth. Do not pour onto cake until the ganache has cooled and is no longer warm to the touch(it may have thickened a lot by then, but still pourable)

  to assemble the cake:

Level off any dome that may have formed on the cakes during baking. Place the first layer on a cake board/plate/stand, and spread ½ cup of frosting over the top. Add the second layer and repeat with the same amount of frosting, making sure to spread the frosting on evenly. End with the third layer, making sure the bottom of the cake is facing upward; spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Place in the refrigerator so the frosting becomes firm. Pour the ganache into the center of the cake and gently spread towards the edges so it drips down. Serve when the ganache has hardened in place.

CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART

  I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving quickly crept up on me this year.  I feel that was 2016 in general as everything flew by so quickly; birthdays, the seasons, holidays.  It makes me somewhat sad, but happy at the same time.  I would say Thanksgiving is somewhat bittersweet for me.  I love the food and family time(even though it can be a bit crazy at times), but it pains me to say goodbye to autumn and hello to winter, which happens to be my least favorite time of the year due to the cold.

img_0807 img_0814-0

  Anyway, this recipe was sort of a last minute idea and something I wanted to post before I hop on a plane and head south for Thanksgiving.  It’s a deliciously tart, cranberry tart with the addition of citrus and bittersweet chocolate- two, very complementary flavors to cranberry if I do say so.  It reminded me so much of my favorite chocolate bar: dark, not-so-sweet, with crunchy pieces of dried orange peel speckled throughout each bite.  The crust is crumbly with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor.  It almost reminds me of cherry pie.

img_0828 img_0837

  I will say I’ve never once liked cranberries.  Well, until recently.  The only time we’d eat them would be at Thanksgiving and they were in the form of the ever so popular canned cranberry sauce.  Incredibly sweet stuff and not at all of my liking.  But, like most things, you have to start with fresh ingredients and see if you truly like or dislike them.  I despise most anything that comes in a can now, so it’s my motto to always use fresh when possible.  I try to bake by the seasons.  And so, I found my love for cranberries when I decided to use them fresh.  The filling for this tart I could eat by the spoonful as it’s just so delicious!  While simmering away in the saucepan with the citrus, cloves, and cinnamon it lets out the most amazing scent as it floats about the house.

  Speaking of cloves, be sure to remove all of them before pouring the filling into the tart shell.  I accidently left two or three pieces inside and they made their way into my mouth.  Biting into cloves isn’t very appetizing, as they’re a bit potent, to say the least.

img_0829


CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART

crust:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup super-fine almond flour

4-ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

1 large egg (+ 2 tablespoons of a smaller, slightly beaten egg), room temp.

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

cranberry-orange filling:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 orange slices

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks 

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon cornstarch

 

chocolate topping:

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate; chopped finely

4-ounces heavy cream

sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

 

method:

  1. With an electric standing mixer, add the softened butter, vanilla, and salt.  Cream till smooth and just combined.  Add the confectioner’s sugar and almond flour and mix on medium until just combined.  Add the flour and large egg, mix until it comes together, and add the two tablespoons of the beaten egg.  Mix on medium until the dough comes together(don’t over beat).  It should be a very soft dough.  Once finished, tightly wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours(until firm).  Once firm, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a large rectangle or circle(depending on the tart pan you’re using).  Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place into the tart pan.  carefully press the dough into the pan till it’s fitted, then using a fork, poke holes all around the bottom.  Place in the refrigerator until firm again; while it’s doing so, preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C.  Once preheated, brush the tart with egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten) and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges shine and are slightly golden and the bottom is cooked through.  Cool completely.
  2. Bump the oven heat up to 375° F.
  3. In a medium sized saucepan, add the freshly squeezed orange juice, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon, and then the cranberries.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cranberries have popped; remove the orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.  In a small bowl add two teaspoons of water to the cornstarch and stir until combined.  Add this mixture to the cranberries and cook, stirring over medium heat until somewhat thickened.  Pour the cranberries into the cooled tart shell and evenly spread around.  Sprinkle the orange zest over the top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely.  Once cooled, remove from tart pan. 
  4. Chop the chocolate finely and place in a bowl that holds heat well.  In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to steam.  Pour over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Spread around the top of the tart and let it harden.  Garnish the top with flaked sea salt or orange zest and serve.

PECAN PIE WITH BOURBON CARAMEL WHIPPED CREAM

  With Thanksgiving just a mere two weeks (plus a few days) away, I thought I’d post a classic dessert that is often found on holiday dinner tables this time of year here in the South- pecan pie.  This recipe hails from an old 1930’s church cookbook I found while walking about an antique mall not too long ago.  I adapted it a tad bit as I am not very fond of using corn syrup, so in its place, I used maple syrup.  Which, in my opinion, adds so much more flavor to the pie.  The crust is buttery and the pecans on top are crunchy while underneath is perfectly gooey; combined with the boozy caramel whipped cream, the entirety of it all is delicious.  Like other pies, this one did not last long in my home.

img_9922 img_9933

I really love finding such things in antique malls or thrift stores.  The pile of church cookbooks sitting in small corners of such places is often neglected.  But they can be little treasures, really, especially the really old ones.  You don’t know what you’re going to get from them as it’s a collection of recipes from various people of various heritage. Each person contributed one recipe they deemed as a favorite that was passed down to them from generation to generation.  This cookbook I bought has many interesting recipes inside(some advertisements as well that I can’t help but chuckle at; oh, how far we’ve come!) which had me researching the ones I wasn’t familiar with.  The recipes range from fattigmann, rødgrød, and vanillekipferl; to blushing bunny, chicken cacciatore, and stuffed eggplant.  Then you have American classics like apple crisp, this pecan pie, and many others.

img_9928 img_9986


PECAN PIE WITH BOURBON CARAMEL WHIPPED CREAM

pie crust:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

5-8 tablespoons ice-cold water

pie filling:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup dark maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

2 1/2 cups pecan halves

 

for the caramel

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 tablespoon bourbon

caramel whipped cream:

1/2 cup heavy cream, cold

1/4 cup bourbon caramel 

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

pinch of salt

METHOD:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  Add the cold butter in cubes and using a pastry blender or food processor, blend it into the flour till it’s crumbly(crumbles should be pea-sized).  Push the mixture to one side of the bowl and add 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water to the other side.  Using a fork, gently toss the flour into the water.  Add more water by the tablespoon when it becomes dry.  Repeat this until the dough comes together and all the flour is incorporated; it should be a soft, moist dough when complete.  Using your hands, shape it into a disk and loosly wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 25-30 minutes; meanwile, preheat the oven to 350°F.   Once the dough has firmed up some, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it until it’s about 10-inches in diameter.  Gently wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unravel onto a 9-inch pie tin.  carefully press the dough into the pan using your hands and then finish by crimping the edges however you would like it to look.  Place the crust in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2.  In a medium sized saucepan, melt the tablespoon of butter; add the brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla.  Whisk over medium-low heat until warm(not hot).  Slightly whisk the eggs together and add to the sugar.  Whisk until all is combined.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and sprinkle on all the pecan halves.  Brush the crust with egg wash(1 egg + 1 tablespoon water)  if you would like it browned.  Bake for about an hour to an hour and 40 minutes.  It will be done when tapped with a spoon and the top is hard.  Cool completely and serve with whipped cream.  

for the caramel and whipped cream:

  1. In a small saucepan, add the water and sugar.  Whisk over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved, once the sugar is dissolves stop whisking and watch the mixture very closely for the next 5-10 minutes.  It should start to turn a light amber, when it does so, quickle remove from heat and stir in the tablespoon of butter.  Once the butter has melted, slowly stream in the cream and stir.  Heat the bourbon until warm and stir into the caramel.  Place the mixture in the refrigerator until cold. 
  2. Place a medium sized mixing bowl in the freezer along with a whisk that attaches to an electric mixer.  Chill for 5 minutes.  Once chilled, add the cold cream, caramel, and powdered sugar.  Whip until soft peaks form.  Serve atop the pie.