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
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup dulce de leche*
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Skor Bars
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Grease cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
- Pour hot coffee in a 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 the sides of the bowl and add eggs. Mix for another 2 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add ⅓ of the flour mixture and ½ of the coffee mixture. Scrape down the bowl and repeat. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the remaining flour with a spatula until all of the ingredients are blended.
- Pour batter into the 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 the centre of the cake should come out clean.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool in the 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 Skor bar pieces 3 or 4 times.
- Put cooled cake on serving dish. Pour dulce de leche into a small pot and let it melt over low heat until it is just liquids. Spoon over the cooled cake, then sprinkle salt on top.
- Garnish the top with Skor Bar Crumble and serve.
For those who want to kick it up a notch, replace the Skor Bars with Hazelnut Brittle. Nut brittles are great garnishes for ice cream and other treats. My favourite is hazelnut, but I have used almonds with good results. If you are not an experienced baker, take your time making this or any other kind of candy over a hot flame. Watch it carefully. No multi-tasking allowed.
What you need:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cup skinned roasted hazelnuts
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
What you do:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then grease the parchment paper lightly.
- Chop nuts in a food processor.
- Combine sugar, water, corn syrup, and butter in a medium pot 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 nuts, salt, baking soda, and vanilla and cook until mixture is golden, about 3 minutes longer.
- Immediately pour the mixture on the prepared parchment and spread it into a thin layer using a spatula. Let the brittle cool completely then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.