HCB: Sybil’s Pecan Torte with Coffee Cream

I have no idea what is going on with me, but I guess I have not been very inspired with the last couple of cakes.  I’m putting all the blame on the combination of the never-ending search for a new house, the pending house packing ahead of us (which I have not even started) and the actual move out date (still to be confirmed) that has me all bend out of shape.  The combination of all of this is totally affecting my baking mojo.

I think also the fact that the last couple of cakes in the HCB list have been all about nuts.

The cakes, not the people. 

And I think I'm totally over nuts.

And this weeks feature nuts?

Pecans, or pi-KAN as I like to pronounced it, since it drives Tom crazy.

Remember how I mention that I like all nuts? And Pistachios were my holy grail? Yeah, well the pi-KANS are way down the tandem pole.  It's not that I don’t like them, in fact the only pie that I eat is pecan pie.  But, pecans with coffee in cake?

The jury was out on that one.

This cake falls under the quick and easy category – but, as we have learned, sometimes those quick and easy are the ones that take us down.

Up till know I was getting use to the new technique of mixing the dry ingredients first, then putting the butter and finishing off with the wet to bring together the batter.

But this cake batter was old school. 

We separated the eggs and the yolks and the sugar got the whipping treatment first, bringing it to a silky consistency.  I love this combination and some of you are going to cringe on my next side note. You can file it under "How come I never heard of this (or thought of this) until now?"

My mother, taught by her mother, use to do this (mix yolks with sugar until frosty) and then mix it in her morning/afternoon coffee, creating a combination like no other.  The coffee turned into a zabaglione like smooth texture. When I asked her about the weird combination, she told me, that it was the way my nonno (grandfather) use to drink his coffee in the morning or afternoon and I guess as anything we follow our parents example. I secretly thought she was nuts.  Until I crossed the Atlantic and lived in Italy and realized that Italians use this combination as a pick-me-up, a restorative for when one has a cold, or low energy, or low mood, or just because it's four in the afternoon.  They called it "Zabaglione al Caffe".

I could never get on board with this particular practice for my coffee.  But, I have to confess that I love the mixture on top of sandwich bread.  And when I got older, and more experimental, I mixed in a couple of spoonfuls of cocoa and turn it into an eggs, sugar and chocolate mixture - clever eh?.

I know it sound totally ga-ga, but trust me on this, its divine tasting.  You are welcome.

Back to the cake.

So, into this sugar/egg mixture you mix the pecans, which have been previously toasted in the oven and then pulse with some sugar and coffee powder in the food processor, until finely ground.

Then it was time to whip the egg whites until they were a frosty and glossy white cloud of meringue goodness.  Fold that into the egg/pecan mixture and ta-da! – batter DONE.

The cake was ready in about 35 minutes or so.  Took it out of the oven and as instructed immediately inverted into a wire rack to let it cool.

About 2 hours later (what can I say, I got side track by all the episode of LOST previously recorded in our DVR).  I removed the baking pan and yikes! The cake had deflated in the middle and it was quite noticeably too.  I ran to read the recipe (again) and was happy to discover that it was suppose to do that.

At this point I thought of skipping the whip cream toping all together (I had more LOST episodes to watch) and just dust it off with a bit of powdered sugar and call it a day.  But, the deflated middle was driving me nuts (type A was in full force folks) everytime I pass it by on the cake stan.

So, I put my cream, coffee, sugar and beater in the refrigerator to chill.  Set my gelatin up and waited the 15 minutes before whipping it up the creamy goodness.

Another 2 minutes of quick decorating time, some final swirls with the spatula and the Sybil’s Pecan Torte with Coffee Cream could be officially marked off the list!


Tom:  “Love the nutty texture, its good.  No to sweet, and love the whip cream topping”

My Neighbors’: “The whip cream topping is yummy! And the cake it’s not sweet at all.  Very “rusty” taste… it’s like a coffee cake, but then not a coffee cake – does that make sense?”

Me: This was another one that I was not to “buzz” about.  But, I think it’s just the fact that I don’t care muck for the pecans.  Like Tom, I really like he whip cream topping, but I know this one is not going to be put in future rotations.

Next week we go back to using fruit. Bananas!