Here’s a variation on the Flourless French Carrot Cake I recently posted. You can use any nuts in or on this cake, or even a combination, making this a handy way to use up odd bits of leftovers in your pantry. Just keep a handful or two of good looking nuts for sprinkling on top. Feel free to play with the ratios of parsnips to sweet potatoes, as well. I’ve found that people tend to be divided on the distinctive flavor of parsnips; if in doubt, use one parsnip and two medium sweet potatoes. If on the other hand you like parsnips, flip that ratio to use 2 parsnips instead. You’ll need about 1 1/3 cup total, give or take a bit, once pureed. If you don’t have apricot jam, any stone fruit jam will work – or, simply sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon sugar before baking, or sift confectioners’ sugar on the baked cake once it’s cooled. I hope you enjoy this. ;o) —AntoniaJames
one 9-inch cake
1 tablespoon Slivovitz or brandy
Grated zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons
1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, or a combination of the two (120 grams)
For on top of the cake: ½ cup sliced toasted almonds or other toasted nuts, coarsely chopped after toasting
1 cup cooked sweet potato * 12 ounces / 342 grams raw (2 medium) sweet potatoes * (See note below.)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the Slivovitz or brandy and the zest in a small bowl. If you don’t want to use booze, a bit of cider or orange juice will do.
Peel, core and cut the parsnip into 1-inch chunks. Microwave in a medium bowl with a tablespoon of water (or steam using whatever other method you like) until tender, 5 - 6 minutes in the microwave. If your 1 cup of nuts for the batter are not already toasted, put them in the oven on a baking sheet for 4 – 5 minutes. Don’t let them burn.
Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9” spring form pan by lining the bottom with parchment and brush the parchment and the sides generously with oil.
Chop the toasted nuts by pulsing in a food processor just until they are the size of large peas. Remove from the work bowl. Don’t bother to rinse it.
When the parsnip chunks are tender, drain and let them cool a bit. Then, buzz them in the food processor for about a minute, until finely chopped. Add the sweet potato, zest and brandy mixture, almond and vanilla extracts, brown sugar, spices and a pinch of salt. Process for about 2 minutes, and then scrape down the sides of the work bowl and add the egg yolks. Process for another 2 minutes, until very smooth and light, scraping down the work bowl after 1 minute. Add back the chopped toasted nuts and quickly pulse 3 or 4 times to incorporate.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a tiny pinch of kosher salt until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the batter from the food processor into the beaten whites until thoroughly blended, taking care not to knock the air out of the egg whites.
Turn into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes clean.
While the cake is baking, whisk together the apricot jam and about a tablespoon of water; strain it. (Put the apricot solids back in the jar with the rest of the jam.)
Once the cake is done, put it on a wire rack to cool. While it’s still warm, brush with the apricot jam and sprinkle on the toasted almond slices. Let the cake rest for 20-30 minutes before removing from the pan.
I hope you enjoy this. Your truly, AntoniaJames ;o)
N.B. * I find it easiest to cook sweet potatoes by microwaving them. Cut each scrubbed but unpeeled sweet potato into three or four pieces, cover with plastic wrap leaving an inch or two open on one edge, and cook on high power for 5 minutes, turning the chunks over about half way through. Take care not to let the steam in the bowl burn you.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)