Walnut Cake with Caramelized Walnuts and Chocolate Espresso Sauce

To start off this blog, I thought I would begin with one of my ultimate favourite things! Cake!

 My parents are part of a “fancy dinner club” in my town. There are five couples in it, and once a season they head on over to one of the couples’ houses each with part of the five course meal in hand. You see I am always very jealous because I don’t get to take part in the eating of the ox tail soup, blood orange salad or crazy good looking food.
This time around my parents were hosting the party, but sadly my brother, sister and I were not allowed to eat the feast. Except my Mom let us be the guinea pigs for her course (a very delicious chicken asiago), so that was good. I was still not satisfied though, so I decided to look for a recipe that us kids could eat without feeling too left out. So I of course went to Julia, and found this. Enjoy! We sure did. 🙂


Gàteau aux Noix-Le Saint-André (Walnut Cake)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2

The Cake
1 cup walnuts
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease and flour a 9 by 9 square cake pan and line the bottom with wax paper.
Grind half the nuts and sugar in a food processor and place in a bowl. Grind other half of nuts and sugar and add to bowl.
Mix in the flower with a rubber spatula and smooth out any lumps.
In a smaller bowl beat the butter till it is a mayonnaise like consistency.

In an electric mixer beat the sugar and eggs with the kirsch and salt for a moment at low speed to blend, then increase speed to high and beat several minutes (it was a good 5-7 minutes for me) until mixture is pale, fluffy, doubled in volume and holds in soft peaks.
Scoop a 2-spoonful dollop of egg mixture into the softened butter and mix with a rubber spatula, being careful to deflate the eggs as little as possible. (my butter wasn’t quite ‘mayonnaise’ enough, so I ended up mixing the life out of it and most definitely deflating the eggs…)
Sprinkle 1/3 of the ground nuts over the egg mixture and delicately fold them in with a rubber spatula. Fold in another 1/3 of the mixture till that is incorporated, than add in the last 1/3.
When the last 1/3 is almost incorporated add the butter mixture and fold that in.
Pour it into the pan and bang lightly on the table.
Bake for 30 minutes.-if you are using a circular pan, the cake is ready when it has sunk slightly leaving a faint line of shrinkage around the edge)
Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake and reverse onto a rack. In about 5 minutes the cake will fall out of the pan onto the rack, then peel the paper off.

The Chocolate Espresso Sauce
4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant coffee
1 1/2 tablespoons both butter and heavy cream.

Break up the chocolate and combine with water and coffee in a small saucepan.
Stir slowly over medium-high heat until chocolate is melted and smooth, then set inside a bigger saucepan over simmering water and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Beat in cream and butter.

Caramelized Walnuts
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Walnut halves (half a cup)

Oil a baking sheet lightly.
Combine sugar and water in a saucepan set over medium high heat. Swirl pan slowly by its handle, but do not stir sugar with a spoon while liquid is coming to a boil.
Continue swirling for a moment as the liquid boils and changes from cloudy to perfectly clear.
Cover pan, raise heat to high, and boil for several minutes until bubbles are thick and heavy.
Uncover, and continue boiling, swirling gently, until syrup turns a nice caramel brown.

Now just take the pan off the heat and drop the walnuts in and fish them out with a fork. Placing them on the oiled baking sheet. Wait for syrup to cool and you are done!

Top the cake with whip cream and caramelized walnuts, and serve over sauce. ENJOY!



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