‘That Boy Good’ Cardamom Cream Cake

8 Jan

Whew lawdy, it has been a WEEK here in Kefville-  a post every day this week! (Monday: The Extravaganza Recap; Tuesday: Fried Eggplant with Chickpeas and Mint Chutney; Wednesday: Iranian Jeweled Rice; Thursday: Sparkling Pomegranate Punch)

But wait- there’s more! Today we’re talking about this Cardamom Cream Cake also published by the NYT in their Best-of-2015 rundown. This cake got rave reviews, which I at first thought were from people just being nice… but then when the second (!) two-layer cake was decimated, I decided this pretty little thing must be the real deal.

cake

This recipe requires three components + the cake, so it’s neither a one-bowl job nor particularly quick. The frosting comes out thick and beige, so you should surely have some plan for beautifying it (might I suggest edible glitter?). Next time around, I may get really wild and an some pistachio to the ricotta cream for some added color… but that’s a story for another day.

Before we get to the recipe–can we just all agree that this woman next to MrKef is a total MILF? Actually, we might as well go one step further and introduce PILFKef, DO (she is a hotly-sought-after Pediatrician, after all).

FullSizeRender

Finally, I must send my most heart-felt thanks to the creators of Coming to America for 1) entertaining our guests while I made this 10,000-hour dinner and 2) providing the highest-compliment-namesake for this creation (if you don’t know about ‘that boy good,’ click here and then, for eff’s sake, go watch the movie!)

‘That Boy Good’ Cardamom Cream Cake

Ingredients

FOR THE RICOTTA FILLING:

  • 1.5 lbs fresh whole-milk ricotta (this was about 24 oz)
  • ½ c heavy cream
  • ¾ c confectioners’ sugar 
  • 1 tsp rose water (I used orange blossom water because that’s what I had, you could also use a flavored extract of your choice or brandy–same goes for all the other rose water additions below)

FOR THE MILK SYRUP:

  • 2 c whole milk
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 6 TBS sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons rose water, or to taste

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 12 TBS (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (+more for greasing pan)
  • 3 c cake flour + more for flouring pan
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 c whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp rose water
  • 1.5 c granulated sugar
  • 1 TBS plus 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt

FOR THE MASCARPONE FROSTING:

  • 12 TBS (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp rose water, or to taste
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 c COLD mascarpone
  • ¼ c COLD Greek yogurt (just buy the damn full fat FAGE)
  • pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • Candied rose petals, for garnish (optional) (Ed note: I don’t even know what this means, but if the NYT includes it, so do I.)

Assembly

1. Drain the ricotta in a fine mesh sieve placed in a large bowl for 1 to 2 hours until very thick. If you’ve bought very thick, very freshly made ricotta from a specialty shop (not the kind from the supermarket), you can skip this step.

2. Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the milk and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the milk until it reduces by half, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves, then continue to simmer until the mixture thickens to the texture of half and half, about 10 minutes longer. Let cool, strain the mixture to get rid of the cardamom and any coagulated milk, then stir in the rose water. (Syrup can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.)

3. Make the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, then grease the parchment. Flour the entire pan and parchment, tapping out any excess.

4. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together the egg whites, milk, vanilla and rose water.

5. Using an electric mixer, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom and salt, and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and about a third of the milk-egg white mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for a minute or so until everything is very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

6. Add the remaining milk mixture in 3 batches, beating well between additions. Scrape down the sides.

7. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center, 25 to 35 minutes. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 20 minutes, then unmold and cool completely.

8. Make the ricotta filling: Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the ricotta, cream and confectioners’ sugar until quite smooth, about 30 seconds. Beat in rose water to taste. Beat on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The mixture will thicken.

9. Make the mascarpone frosting: Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, rose water and cardamom until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in mascarpone and yogurt until the mixture is just combined and looks smooth. Do not overbeat or the mixture may curdle.

10. When the cakes have cooled, use a long serrated knife to trim the tops of the cakes, so the tops are flat and even. Then cut each cake in half into 2 layers, to make a 4-layer cake. Brush cake layers on all sides with milk syrup. Place one cake round on a cake stand or serving platter, then top with one third of the ricotta filling, leaving a small border around the edge of the cake. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and ricotta filling.

11. Frost top and sides of the cake with the mascarpone frosting. Top with chopped pistachios and candied rose petals, if using; chill until ready to serve.

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