November is the calm before the holiday event circus. Except that we here in Toronto already saw the fat man in the ring and he wasn’t wearing a Santa hat.
We have business to get on with and what better pause from madness than a sweet for your sweeties?
Here’s a recipe for Hump Day. Around here, we like to break up the week with guests for a casual dinner. Invited friends or family understand it could be soup and salad but Hump Day always includes a little sweet.
You can thank me after you’ve licked your plate.
Dulce de Leche Cake
(good for chocolate and caramel lovers and…wait? Isn’t that everyone?)
What you need:
- 10 inch baking pan
- 1 cup hot coffee, freshly brewed, the stronger the better
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- 11/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 11/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup dulce de leche*
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Nut brittle** or Skor Bars
What you do:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
Pour hot coffee in bowl and stir in cocoa powder until it dissolves.
Add brown sugar, yogurt and vanilla. Stir thoroughly until blended.
Beat butter and granulated sugar on medium speed of electric mixer until fluffy and pale yellow ( approx 3 min). Scrape down sides of the bowl and add eggs. Mix for 2 minutes.
Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. With mixer running on low, mix in a third of flour mixture and half of coffee mixture. Scrape down the bowl. Add another third of flour mixture and all the remaining coffee mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 25 minutes then rotate pan and bake for another 20 min.
Ovens vary so make sure to check your cake: a toothpick inserted in centre of cake should come out clean.
Remove the pan from oven and let cake cool in pan for 20 minutes.
Turn cake out on to a clean plate, remove parchment and turn back on to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a food processor, pulse the brittle or Skor bar pieces 3 or 4 times.
Put cooled cake on serving dish. Heat the dulce de leche on high power in microwave for 30 seconds until it is just liquid. Spoon dulce de leche over the cake then sprinkle kosher salt over the dulce de leche.
Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the ground brittle ( or Skor bar pieces) around the outer edge of the cake and you are ready to serve!
* Dulce de leche is sweetened, caramelized milk and can be found at any large grocery store in the baking goods section beside the condensed milk. You can also make your own at home with a simple method.
( see how here)
** Nut brittles are excellent garnishes for ice cream and other treats. My favourite is hazelnut but I have used almonds as well in this recipe. If you are not an experienced baker, take your time with making this and any kind of candy over a hot stove. Watch it carefully and no multitasking allowed.
What you need:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- I tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups skinned, roasted hazelnuts
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
What you do:
Line baking sheet with buttered parchment paper. Chop nuts in food processor. You should have about 6 ounces in total.
Combine sugar, water, corn syrup and butter in saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is melted. Cook over moderate heat without stirring until syrup reaches 270 F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Stir in chopped hazelnuts, salt, baking soda and vanilla and cook until mixture is golden, about 3 minutes longer.
Immediately pour mixture on the prepared parchment and spread it in a thin layer using a spatula. Let the brittle cool completely. Break into pieces. Store up to 3 days ahead in airtight container.