Sunday, January 16, 2011

Butter Pecan Cake

In my opinion, I have the best parents in the world.

They taught me everything I needed to know in order to become a successful life participant. Where would I be if it weren't for them?

I wouldn't know how to cross the street. First look left, then look right, and then look left again just in case a car came while you were busy looking right. Genius! I never would have thought of that last part on my own.

I wouldn't know how important it is to wear a coat any time you're going outside, even if you reallyreally don't want to. I mean, what if the car breaks down? You'll definitely be wishing you had that coat when you're stranded on the side of the road!

I'm on the left, and I'm not happy about the coat situation.

I wouldn't know how to clean up spilled milk. You may think you're done after you wipe off the countertop and the front of the cabinet, but did you check the underside of the cabinet? Milk totally splashed up there too! Now there's a piece of knowledge that can be applied to other situations--just think how useful that will be if I ever become a crime scene investigator.

I can't think of a time that my parents' advice has ever failed me, and I trust their opinions on pretty much everything. Including cake.

I'm not sure about my dad's opinions on cake, but I know that my mom's opinion is that 1) the frosting is the most important part, and 2) the more there is of it, the better. Good call, mom.

Now that I've made a potentially short story unnecessarily long, let's talk about this cake in particular, which I made for my mom's birthday. I'll be the first to say that the cake itself is irrelevant. What I really want to tell you about is the frosting--cream cheese frosting with crunchy, buttery toasted pecans.

It's the kind of frosting that compels you to stick your finger in the cake when no one's watching. And even if someone does see you, it's so good that it's worth acquiring the social stigma of being that person.  

...just another thing I learned from my mom.

Butter Pecan Cake
Adapted from Bake or Break

For the cake:

6 ounces white chocolate chips
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups cake flour

For the frosting:

1/4 cup butter
2-1/2 cups pecans, chopped
22 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
32 ounces powdered sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the cake:

1. Place white chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour boiling water over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flower three 9-inch cake pans.

3. In an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter for about 1 minute by itself. Gradually add the sugar with the mixer still running, and continue to cream for about 1 minute after all the sugar is added. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each one. Reduce the mixer to low speed, and add the white chocolate and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour to the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with flour.

5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter.

6. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

1. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped pecans and cook for 5-10 minutes, until toasted. Cool completely.

2. In a mixer on medium speed, cream together the cream cheese and softened butter. Reduce the mixer to low speed, and gradually add the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Stir in the pecans and vanilla. Chill at least 1 hour.

You'll probably have some frosting left over, but I'm sure you can find something to with it. Charlie was under the impression that it would be given to whomever asked for it most politely.