A friend served a walnut date cake (Simple Southwest Cooking by Judy Walker) with tea one afternoon. The cake was perfectly simple the way it was, but to me, it cried out to be messed with. The inspiration for this version comes from Amanda’s Apician Spiced Dates in Mr. Latte. I poached the dates before chopping them and adding them to the batter, then used the poaching liquid in the mascarpone. The result is a sophisticated and yummy dessert. It’s not bad for breakfast either. (Extra bonus: It is gluten free for your non pie eaters.) —wanderash
Spiced Date Cake
cups red wine, a fruity, medium body wine works well
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and sugar a 8x8 loaf pan or a 8” round.
Combine the first six ingredients in a small pot. The dates should be covered by the wine. Bring to a simmer and gently poach the dates for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the dates in the poaching liquid for 20 minutes.
Toast the pecans in the oven, 6- 9 minutes. After they have cooled, put them in a food processor and chop them until they are like sand, some larger pieces are fine, no need to pulverize them.
Remove the dates from the poaching liquid, taking care to leave all of the spices in the pot. Reserve the liquid for the mascarpone. Chop the dates very small.
Crack the eggs in to a bowl and beat them. Add dates, pecans, sugar, rice flour, baking soda, orange zest and pinch of salt and mix everything together.
Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. It will feel soft to the touch in the center, when it cools it will firm up.
Remove cake from the oven and let it cool before serving. Wrapped tightly in saran wrap and left on the counter, the cake will stay moist for 3 days.
Mulled Wine Mascarpone Cream
Add honey to the poaching liquid, bring to a boil and reduce by half. Strain and allow to cool. Discard the spices.
Whip the cream until it has medium stiffness. Add mascarpone, 3 tablespoons poaching liquid, powdered sugar and salt. Whip for about 30 seconds- just long enough to incorporate all of the ingredients. Depending on the wine you used, you may want to adjust the sugar and poaching liquid. However, do not make it sweet.
My love for all things delicious lead me to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and three years of working in restaurants and wineries in Napa Valley. My love of travel has propelled me all over the world. After living in Honduras and Mexico for the past 5 yrs., my two children, super-hero husband, and I have just moved to the Midwest....... A new chapter is unfolding....