This hazelnut brown butter cake with caramelized pineapple is a melt-in-your-mouth dessert with a mellow air to it, well suited to this time of year.
Its ingredients give it a West Coast flavor, as combined in a new recipe from pastry chef Cindy Mushet, whose book "Desserts: Mediterranean Flavors, California Style" (Simon & Schuster, 2000, $30) established her regional expertise.
Here she calls for hazelnuts, grown in Oregon and Washington, and pineapples, grown in Hawaii, to transform a classic butter cake.
Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake With Caramelized Pineapple
(Preparation 1 hour, 15 minutes, cooking time 24 minutes)
For the cake:
5 ounces (1 cup) whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (see note)
1 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned (see note)
For the pineapple:
1/2 of a whole fresh pineapple, peeled and cored (or 20-ounce package fresh, precut, Hawaiian pineapple)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons apricot preserves, strained to remove solids
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, position oven rack in center of oven.
To make the cake:
Place cooled, toasted hazelnuts, confectioners' sugar and flour in food processor and process until nuts are finely ground. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, add egg whites and whisk. Blend well. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Lightly butter inside of 9- or 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Pour batter into tart pan on cookie sheet. Bake in 450-degree oven for 8 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Continue baking for another 8 minutes. Turn oven off, leave cake in oven for an additional 8 minutes. Remove from oven, place on rack to cool briefly. To unmold cake, place on top of a large can so fluted side will fall away. Serve warm.
To store, wrap in foil (plastic may soften crust too much).
To make the pineapple glaze:
Cut pineapple so each serving has 2 to 3 pieces (16 to 24 pieces total). Place large skillet over medium heat and add butter to coat pan. Sprinkle sugar in pan. Turn heat to high and add pineapple; cook for several minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Divide pineapple pieces among dessert plates. Return skillet to high heat, add orange juice and apricot preserves. Bring mixture to a boil and spoon thickened sauce over pineapple pieces. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings.
To toast and skin hazelnuts: Spread nuts evenly on sheet pan. Heat in oven 10 to 12 minutes, or until skins begin to blister and split. Immediately remove from oven and place nuts on clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel around hot nuts and rub vigorously to remove skins (not all will come off). Cool completely.
To brown butter: Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat, swirling pan occasionally. When butter is melted, increase heat to medium, cook about 6 minutes. Butter will bubble, solids at bottom will turn dark brown do not let them blacken or butter will taste bitter. Immediately remove pan from heat and pour butter, but not dark solids, into batter, whisking to blend thoroughly.
Nutrition information per serving: 440 cal., 30 g fat, 41 g carbo., 6 g pro.
Recipe from the American Butter Institute.