- Bibb-Herb Salad w/Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette
- Croque Monsieur Sandwiches
- Balthazar's Onion Soup Gratinee
- Banana-Pecan Cake w/Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Icing
We lit the fireplace, poured some white wine, and put on a nice mix of music in the background to set the mood for a evening of yummy food and lively conversation. It all added up to a wonderful, relaxing post-holiday evening! After the hustle and bustle of the past few weeks, it was nice to sit and visit over a belly-warming meal.
The Balthazar French onion soup was featured in my Top 10 Restaurant dishes for 2010 post last week. I own their cookbook -- also a gift from one of my guests -- and decided to try my hand at making The Holy Grail of French onion soup last night. This stuff is off. the. hook. As in we all raved and raved about how good it was!! I promise to share the recipe here soon, but I have to make another batch first. I forgot Food Blogger Rule #1 last night...in my haste to taste the soup, I didn't take any pictures of the finished product!!
Thankfully, I did manage to take lots of pictures of the delicious banana-pecan cake I made for dessert -- before and after slicing! The first time I flipped through Ina Garten's latest cookbook, I knew that I'd be making this cake, and soon! It's simple to whip up, very moist, and the combination of flavors is really nice. The only major changes I made to the recipe were to use pecans instead of walnuts in the cake, and I added 1 tsp. of Vietnamese cinnamon to the icing.
Banana-Pecan Cake With Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Icing
adapted from Ina Garten's How Easy Is That?
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Add the following ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer: 3 ripe bananas (mashed), 3/4 cup sugar, and 1/ cup lightly packed light brown sugar. Blend on low speed until combined.
Step 2: Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1 tbs. vanilla. Mix until the batter is smooth. Meanwhile, sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients and the grated zest of one medium orange to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped pecans and stir to combine.
Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then place on a serving platter to cool.
Step 4: Make the icing. Combine 6 ounces cream cheese and 6 tbs. butter (both room temp) in the bowl of your stand mixer. Combine on low until combined -- don't whip! Add 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon, and 2.5 cups powder sugar. Mix on low speed until smooth.
Step 5: When the cake is completely cool, frost the top of the cake with the icing. It should be thick enough that it won't run completely down the sides of the cake. It just sort of drapes over the edge. Decorate the top of the cake with pecan halves.
This cake makes 8 generous slices. The cake is only one layer, but it's very dense and moist. The consistency is reminiscent of a moist banana bread. The orange zest gives it a nice citrus background flavor, and I really thought the cinnamon in the icing was a nice flavor profile as well. I hope you'll give this cake a try the next time you have some ripe banana on hand!
While you're here, don't forget to scroll down and enter my Tungsten Toffee giveaway. Their toffee is really delicious...sweet, but not sticky or rock-hard. Last day to enter is this Thursday, and the winner will be announced on Friday.