Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finally! Angel Food Cake with Maple-Honey Dessert Wine Apricots and Honey Ice Wine Figs

Basically the whole concept of the 3rd Annual Volk/Watson Christmas Extravaganza started because I wanted to make Angel's Food Cake. To me, that's more than reason enough to have a party. The fact that it was Christmas came second.

I've made this recipe before, and it's stunning. This time the cake didn't rise as much, but only I had had the original, and knew what it could have been like. I also did a few variations, decorated the top with a mixture of apricots and figs in the various dessert wines, and garnished with my home-made ginger confit.

As long as you bring the egg whites to room temperature before you beat them and make sure you don't get a speck of egg yolk in the whites, you're golden. There's no butter, which usually means there will be no flavour, but the toasted almonds give a warmth to the cake, and somehow the texture is dense enough to not feel like you're eating air. The real miracle (pardon the pun) takes place when you add the incredibly sweetened fruit sauces that turn the cake itself from soft and a little chewy to almond the intense texture of a pound cake. Who needs Hell when you have Heaven?

Follow the recipe I already posted but use your dessert wine of choice. I did two sauce options: one with a maple honey dessert wine that tastes like you're drinking alcohol-laden maple syrup (aka heaven - this also tied into the theme) combined with dried apricots, and one relatively lighter version with a simple honey ice wine and three kinds of dried figs. Yes there are three kinds of dried figs.

Notes on the dried fruit:
1. You can find unsulphured apricots and regular apricots (sulphured). The unsulphured kind are darker and generally moister and more flavourful. They're also a touch more expensive but well worth it.
2. For the figs I used a mix of Turkish, Black Mission, and Calimyrna (so called because they come from "Cali'fornia). They were also my favourite fresh fig of the season, having tried these light green ones, the dark California mission figs, and the Turkish). The figs are probably sulphured, however...If you can find organic ones, by all means buy them, but they will not be cheap.

I skipped the amaretto drizzle on the cake since I actually think it takes away from the aesthetics on the cake (you can compare above). I also wanted to keep dairy out of the party as much as possible (even though the yogurt probably wouldn't have bothered anyone) and I wanted to make the dish as kid-friendly as possible by reducing the amount of uncooked booze...I, of course, served extra of the dried fruit liquor sauces on the side, and those who were not put off by what looked like slime-y goop could take heaps and heaps of intensely sugar-y nectar...

If you do make the drizzle, just use whichever liquor (amaretto, dessert wine, etc.) that you used in the dried fruit sauce. Die of happiness...and go to heaven, of course, where you'll be given more of this angelic dessert.