Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bolo di kashupete (Aruban Christmas cake)

How did you enjoy Christmas day? I hope it was spent in the loving company of family and friends. As much as I enjoy the actual day of Christmas it's always such a blur of activity so that I look forward to the days after when I can laze about and relax with a fridge full of left overs so I don't have to cook. 

Here is a traditional Christmas cake from the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba. I have been insanely curious about this recipe ever since I encountered it about two years ago. Essentially it's a pound cake soaked in rum with a fudge topping. The unusual frosting is what initially caught my interest. I stayed true to the recipe but decorated it a bit differently. 

I don't have that much of a sweet tooth so there was no way I could cover the entire cake with fudge. I think not doing that was a mistake because the cake was a bit dry and there wasn't much of a rum flavour. I am supposing that covering the entire cake in the frosting 'seals' it which would keep it nice and moist. In any event it was no hardship for me to correct my flaw by simply pouring a 'capful' of spiced rum over each slice before serving - problem solved.  

Traditionally, Aruban cashew cake is decorated with cashews and maraschino cherries. It is also sliced in half and covered and filled with the frosting. I did not have cherries so I substituted with dried cranberries which looked pretty. Also I ran out of cashews, so I used walnuts. The texture of the frosting is somewhat grainy (it's a fudge after all) and I found it a bit sweet for my tastes but no one else complained. Overall a very festive looking cake with lots of holiday flavour.

Bolo di Kashupete (Cashew Cake)


2 cups butter (unsalted)
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt

Cashew Frosting
3 cups finely ground cashews (unsalted)
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 to 1/2 cup Rum *(I used a spiced rum but you could use Brandy)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method (Cake)
Prep: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 10 inch springform cake pan with a hole in the centre. Dust pan with flour after greasing.

Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature  

Next sift together the dry ingredients ( flour, baking powder and salt). 

Beat: Using a stand mixture and a paddle attachment. Beat the softened butter at medium speed until it is light in colour. Add the sugar and continue to beat for about 4 mins longer. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and with the mixer on low speed add the eggs one at a time. Beat for about a minute before adding the next one. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.

Add dry to wet: Add about a third of the sifted dry ingredients and gently fold into the egg mixture on low speed. Add another third of the dry ingredients and fold in gently. Do this once more and mix on low until dry ingredients are gradually incorporated into the egg mixture.

Bake: Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in tin for about 10 mins before removing it from the pan. Stick holes in the cake with a skewer and pour 1/4 cup or more of rum over the cake. Cool completely before frosting.

Method (Frosting)

In a medium saucepan add 1 cup water with 2 cups sugar. Cook until the mixture gets to the soft ball stage (240 F) Once it reaches 240 F add the condensed milk, vanilla extract and the ground cashew. Remove from the heat and keep stirring until it becomes a manageable thick cream. (Cashew cream dries fast so make this the day you intend to decorate the cake. It cannot be made before hand as it will harden. Keep a bowl of water nearby to dip your spatula while spreading the cream)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Five-Spice Roasted Chicken

It's the holiday season and we are all busy, busy, busy. I know I am not the only one rushing about with last minute preparations. It's all kinds of chaotic around here.  Always at this time of the year it's easy to fall into the trap of eating fast food at every turn. It's easier to avoid the grab and go junk food if I know that I have lunch or dinner at home which just needs to be warmed in the microwave. This Asian style roasted chicken is one of my go-to dishes which can be done the day before. It makes for a lovely, quick, meal served with fried rice or even plain jasmine rice and some steamed vegetables. I used to make this using a whole chicken but I find using the drumsticks makes it even simpler to serve.

Five-Spice Roasted Chicken


For the Marinade
2 tsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp five-spice powder
1 tbs honey

8 chicken drumsticks


Mix together all marinade ingredients and pour over chicken. Put chicken and marinade in a zip-lock bag and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350F

Place drumsticks on a roasting tray. Pour marinade over drumsticks and bake for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes turn chicken over and baste with gravy that is in the tray. Cook for 30 minutes more, basting and turning until drumsticks are cooked through and juices run clear when chicken is pieced with a knife.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tamarind Ginger Spice Cake

Amazing cake but we'll get to that in a minute.

First a mini rant at the spouse who absolutely is NOT deserving of ANY cake at this point.

Some time last week, my husband was away from work and I had to use his car to drop our children to school.

Note to self:  Self, never borrow your  man's car without first checking for gas.

Children safely transported,  I was on my way to work, tunes happily cranked up way loud, and vibesing along with my boy Bunji. There I was singing along to this and thinking how glorious it was to be travelling in the opposite direction of morning rush hour traffic when I noticed that the gas indicator light was on. No worries because there are like five service stations between me and my place of employment. No need to flip out, right?


Just my bad luck there was a power outage that morning which meant no working pumps at any of those five gas stations. The car eventually ran out of gas...


Yes this has happened to me with this car before. Therefore I was seriously annoyed at myself for allowing it to happen a second time. While waiting to be 'rescued' by my dad and brother, I texted the hubby.

Me: Bloody hell! You have no gas!
DH: What! No way, is the red light on?

*Because to a guy the red light means you still have a lot of gas left.

Me: Yes the red light was on but now it isn't cause I am shut down at the side of the road.
DH: Nah man, my car never shut down on me before when the red light was on.

Me: Rendered speechless by the absurdity of that response.  I chose not to reply and I am happy to report we are still happily married today.

Okay now back to cake.

There is nothing I love more that using a familiar ingredient in an unexpected way. When I saw this recipe over on Anh's food blog, it immediately jumped to the top of my "Recipes to Try" list.

Tamarind is already a star ingredient in many of my savory dishes and I was intrigued by the idea of it in cake.

 This cake is rich and moist, with a tender crumb. Here is what one of my taste testers at work said about it. "There was a flavour I could not put my finger on .....but it was good with a spicy warmth from the ginger and a hint of pepper" 

You don't actually taste the tamarind but you know it's there by the extra kick of flavour it brings. This was definitely a hit with my father who is not usually effusive about food. He never makes a comment beyond,  'Its good,"  or  "It's not good." to describe any dish. To him something either is or it isn't.

He had a slice of this and said nothing. Later he had another slice, but still no comment.
I was concerned. Two slices might mean it was good but why hadn't he said anything?

The next day I had my answer. Dad came home and placed a bag of crystallized ginger on the kitchen and said two words.

 "Make more."

Alrighty then.

Tamarind Ginger Spice Cake

3 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk, room temperature
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Matouks Tamarind Chutney
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4  teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
13 tablespoons butter (185 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

Lime Glaze

1 cup icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
chopped crystallized ginger


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Place rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 9x5x3inch loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter the paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, ginger, tamarind chutney and vanilla extract.

Place the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and sugar) in the bowl of your mixer and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and half the egg mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the egg mixture gradually, in 2 additions beating about 30 seconds after each add in. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This is essentially a pound cake recipe albeit a slightly different method from a traditional pound cake. It is quite normal for there to be a crack down the center of this cake.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This cake can be covered and stored for several days at room temperature or one week when refrigerated.

Make the lime glaze. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add the lime juice. Stir unil you have a consistency that you like. Adjust consistency with extra lime juice or icing sugar as you wish. Cover cake with glaze.

Cook's Notes:
Matouk's is a Trinidadian brand of condiments that is well known throughout the Caribbean. It is available from various online sources but should you have trouble finding it you could easily make your own tamarind chutney.