This week's cake is kinda like that plum baby food cake. A prominent entry in the ingredients list is: prunes. Now prunes continue to have odd associations for me despite the efforts of the prune industry to rebrand them as "dried plums" and despite the fact that they really are dried plums. Technically they aren't any different or worse than the previously-avoided baby food plums. But I had serious qualms about the prunes until this cake was baked, cut, and tasted. And then, my word, it didn't really matter what was in there, that cake was fabulous!
-I lightly toasted walnuts my walnuts before grinding them.
- Grand Marnier cognac was my choice instead of armagnac, mostly because I had it on the shelf and I didn't have armagnac (nor had I ever heard of it). I was talking with the liquor store guy after I made the cake and he said that Americans don't seem to have a taste for Armagnac so he doesn't carry it. He added that it was very similar to cognac. A little internet research shows that there are similarities and differences, as you can read here!
- This was a great recipe for me to use up odds and ends of chocolate in my drawer - in both the cake and the glaze I mixed a bit of semisweet in with the bittersweet chocolate.
- The prunes I used were very fresh and soft. They even looked like plums inside - they were still purple. (I've become a big fan of baked plums since making the Dimply Plum Cake about a million times.) I cut the prunes pretty small, but I might cut them even smaller next time and make sure they mooshed a lot when they were cooking.
- It was a little bit difficult to tell when the cake was done. Dorie says that a knife should come out "streaky." At one point I tested, and the knife seemed streaky, but the cake just didn't look quite done. I could tell it was moist enough that I wouldn't have to worry about drying it out, so I left it in the oven for several more minutes. At that point the knife was still streaky, but more clean than streaked. After cutting it I realized that it could have taken even a few more minutes in the oven, but it was great the way it was.
- I served this at book group and my testers were wild about this cake. One pronounced: "That's restaurant-worthy!" which I thought was fitting since Dorie riffed this recipe from a restaurant's signature dessert. I had no trouble splitting this cake up for everyone to take home. I kept that one wedge to photograph the next day.
The orange notes from the liqueur - and the zest - really came through. It was a nice orange + chocolate combination; just a little fruity and a lot of chocolate intensity.
The prunes gave fantastic texture to the cake without being really discernible, thank goodness. One of my testers called it "fudgy," which is a perfect description.
This is a grown-up, elegant cake. It's a perfect dessert for entertaining or a dessert buffet. It can be sliced very slender, and is rich enough to satisfy. It looks delightful standing up on the plate with that slick of chocolate on top.
This cake is definitely one that I will make again. My heartiest thanks to LyB of And then I do the dishes- for choosing this fabulous dessert for the TWD group to bake. If you'd like to bake this yourself, it's pages 279-281 of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours, or hop by and see LyB's post where you will find it online.
Just a few of the dishes this cake generated!
I am currently away from home and all traces of the internet. Before I left I scheduled this to post first thing Tuesday morning, and if I didn't make a mistake that's when it posted! [edit: well, I did make a mistake and this posted for a few hours on Sunday a.m. I took it off and rescheduled it for Tuesday, but I know it was in everyone's Google readers since Sunday - sorry!] If you leave me a comment, I'll try to come visit your blog when I return this weekend!