cake with whiskey sauce, prepared and styled by Mark
the jokes, we enjoy fruitcake in our house. Likewise, the
dark fruit flavors of mincemeat, plum puddings, stollen and
lebkuchen. They prove a bold contrast to all the sugar
cookies, peppermint bark and homemade fudge — which we
made with dates are relatively new to our repertoire. We’ve
had a few good ones this year — most recently at The
Vanguard in Indianapolis. They served a warm wedge of a
robust, super moist date cake with a generous ladle of warm
toffee sauce. Tasted like the holidays to us!
home, I pureed pitted dates with hot water and a bit of
espresso powder for an even darker, pleasantly bitter flavor
in this simple one-layer cake. A topping of diced dried
dates (look for packages of diced dates with oat flour; the
pieces stay separate), mixed with walnuts and cacao nibs,
adds a great texture and an attractive appearance. The cake
keeps well for several days. I like to serve it warm; slices
can be heated very briefly in the microwave.
whiskey-spiked toffee sauce gilds the lily. The sauce makes
a nice gift packaged in small jars. Microwave the sauce
until it’s warm, so it flows over the cake nicely.
added a jar of mincemeat to my condiment collection when
shopping at Waitrose in London. In the old English days,
mincemeat contained chopped meat. Today, the store-bought
versions are meatless — and delicious. Basically, cooked
apples sweetened with raisins and molasses and flavored with
sweet and savory spices, such as cinnamon, clove, caraway
and cinnamon, form the base of bottled mincemeat. Often a
touch of vinegar is added for tanginess. Borden’s Nonesuch
Mincemeat tastes good; Amazon sells a couple of British
imports that I like too.
satisfy the varied tastes of our holiday guests, I add a cup
of mincemeat to a homemade apple pie. In my experience,
adding a touch of the dark condiment to a pie helps ease the
guests into these flavors. I think the combination is a
perfect match any time of the year.
DATE CAKE WITH WHISKEY BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE
10 to 12 servings
cup diced dates with oat flour
cup chopped walnuts
tablespoons cacao nibs or small bits of dark chocolate,
cups all-purpose flour
cup whole wheat flour
teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend
teaspoon ground ginger
package (8 ounces) whole pitted dates, about 1 3/4 cups
tablespoons rye whiskey or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
teaspoons instant espresso powder
sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
packed dark brown sugar
butterscotch sauce, see recipe
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
For the topping, mix diced dates, walnuts and cacao nibs in
a small bowl. Set aside.
flours, baking soda, spice blend, ginger and salt in a
separate bowl. Put pitted dates, whiskey and espresso powder
in a heat-proof bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water and let stand
until dates are super soft, about 10 minutes. Pour
date-whiskey mixture into a food processor; process to a
smooth puree. Let stand to thicken, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put butter into a large bowl of an electric
mixer. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in
sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until the
mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes total. Add half
of the flour mixture and all of the date-whiskey puree. Beat
to combine. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat just
enough to combine. Do not over-mix.
Scrap the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.
Sprinkle the reserved diced-dates-and-walnuts mixture evenly
over the batter. Bake until cake is pulling away from the
sides of the pan and a wooden pick inserted in several
places comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
the cake cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour. Remove the
sides of the springform. Cut cake into wedges to serve.
Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar, if desired. Drizzle
with the whiskey butterscotch sauce.
information per serving (for 12 servings): 375 calories, 17
g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 93 mg cholesterol, 54 g
carbohydrates, 37 g sugar, 6 g protein, 285 mg sodium, 3 g
1 1/2 cups
can sub bourbon or brandy for the rye whiskey, if you
cups packed dark brown sugar
cup dark agave syrup
tablespoons unsalted butter
teaspoon coarse salt
cup heavy (whipping) cream
cup rye whiskey
sugar, syrup, butter, salt and 1/4 cup water into a
medium-size deep saucepan. Heat to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and let simmer, 2 minutes.
Uncover the pan. Add cream and continue to simmer on low,
stirring often, until sauce is thick and syrupy, about 10
minutes. Stir in whiskey, and cook 1 minute. Remove from
heat. Allow sauce to cool at room temperature. Transfer to
jars or microwave-safe container. Sauce will keep for up to
one month in the refrigerator.
Microwave on medium (50 percent power) to warm the sauce.
information per tablespoon: 92 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g
saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 17 g carbohydrates, 17 g
sugar, 0 g protein, 26 mg sodium, 0 g fiber
CINNAMON MINCEMEAT PIE
can substitute a box of frozen pie crust, about 22 ounces,
for the homemade dough. Thaw the dough as directed, and roll
it back into shape if it cracks when unwrapping.
recipe double-crust pie dough, recipe follows
pounds (6 to 8 medium-size) firm crisp apples, such as
Empire, Mutsu or Honeycrisp
zest from 1 small lemon
tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
sugar for sprinkling
sweetened whipped cream, or rum raisin ice cream
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Have a deep 10-inch glass or
ceramic pie plate and a baking sheet ready.
Roll out the larger disk of dough between two sheets of
floured wax paper into a thin circle about 14 inches in
diameter. Carefully fold the dough in half, then place it in
the pie dish, Unfold it and fit it over the bottom and up
the sides of the pie dish. Trim the overhang to leave about
1/2 inch all around the pie dish. Refrigerate.
Roll the other piece of dough between 2 sheets of floured
wax paper into an 11-inch circle and place it (still between
the wax paper) on the baking sheet and refrigerate it.
the filling, peel the apples, and quarter them through the
stem end. Remove the core. Cut each quarter into
1/4-inch-thick slices. Put the slices into a large bowl, and
add the lemon zest. Stir in sugar, cornstarch, tapioca,
cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Gently stir in the mincemeat.
Let stand, about 10 minutes.
Spoon the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the
dough-lined pie dish. Pat the apples down to compact them a
Carefully place the top crust over the fruit. Use your
fingers to press together the top and bottom crusts,
trimming as needed. Use a fork to make a decorative edge.
Brush the top of the pie and the edges with the
half-and-half. Sprinkle everything generously with the
coarse sugar. Use the fork to gently poke steam vents into
the top of the pie in several spots.
Bake pie at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce oven
temperature to 325 degrees. Now slide the baking sheet under
the pie to catch any drips. Continue baking at 325 degrees
until the top crust is richly browned, 30 to 40 minutes
more. (Use foil strips to cover the edges of the pie if they
brown too quickly.) Cool pie on wire rack until barely warm.
Serve warm with cinnamon sweetened whipped cream or ice
information per serving: 629 calories, 26 g fat, 14 g
saturated fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 99 g carbohydrates, 53 g
sugar, 5 g protein, 130 mg sodium, 6 g fiber
FAVORITE, FORGIVING PIE CRUST
enough for a double crust 10-inch pie
cups unbleached flour
cup unsalted butter, very cold
cup transfat-free vegetable shortening, frozen
flour, sugar and salt into a food processor. Pulse to mix
well. Cut butter and shortening into small pieces and
sprinkle them over the flour mixture. Use on/off pulses with
the food processor to blend the fats into the flour. The
mixture will look like coarse crumbs.
ice cubes into about 1/2 cup water and let the water chill.
Remove the ice cubes and drizzle about 6 tablespoons of the
ice water over the flour mixture. Briefly pulse the machine
just until the mixture gathers into a dough.
Dump the mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper. Gather into
two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten the
balls into thick disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate
until firm, about 1 hour. (Dough will keep in the
refrigerator for several days.)