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Two of Our Favorite Things

November 10, 1994

The cooks in The Times Test Kitchen have seen plenty of cake recipes through the years. They know cake. That's why we asked Test Kitchen director and food stylist Donna Deane and food stylist and tester Mayi Brady to come up with two great cake recipes. We had a great time tasting their nominees.

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When Donna Deane first tasted this meringue cake at Il Fornaio, she knew she had to have the recipe. She got it and adapted it for home use. It's rich and fabulous tasting, a wonderful cake for the holidays.

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MERINGATA ALLA FIORENTINA

12 egg whites

2 cups sugar

1 pound mascarpone cheese

1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup almond flavored liqueur

1 quart whipping cream, whipped

1/2 cup amaretti cookie crumbs

Beat egg whites in bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at time, until egg whites are stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat.

Pipe meringue into 3 (10-inch) rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 250 degrees about 3 hours, until golden. Check meringues to be sure centers are baked until dry. Let stand overnight in cool, dry place.

In bowl blend together mascarpone cheese, chocolate and almond liqueur. Fold whipped cream into cheese mixture.

To assemble, put 1 dollop of cream filling on platter, top with first layer of meringue and press down slightly into cream dollop to hold meringue in place. Spread 1/3 of cream filling over meringue layer. Repeat, ending with cream layer. Sprinkle over cookie crumbs. Chill until serving time. Makes 16 servings.

Each serving contains about:

491 calories; 151 mg sodium; 114 mg cholesterol; 35 grams fat; 28 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0 fiber.

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The caramel apples of autumn were the inspiration for this cake developed by Mayi Brady. It took a few tries to come up with just the right texture in the moist apple cake. The drizzled caramel sauce works as frosting. It's a perfect homey cake for cool weather.

CARAMEL-GLAZED APPLE-PECAN POUND CAKE

2 1/2 cups chopped green apples

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

5 eggs

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Sauce

In skillet, lightly saute apple chunks in 2 tablespoons butter. Set aside.

In bowl, cream remaining butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Beat in eggs 1 at time. In bowl sift together flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir into butter mixture until blended.

Fold in apples and pecans.

Spoon into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees 1 hour, or until wood pick inserted near center comes out clean. Glaze with Caramel Sauce. Makes 12 servings.

Each serving, with Caramel Sauce, contains about:

495 calories; 306 mg sodium; 146 mg cholesterol; 26 grams fat; 62 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.28 gram fiber.

Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon butter

Combine brown sugar, sugar and whipping cream in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Cook and stir, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter until melted. Cool. Then drizzle over cake.

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