Now that the inside of our new place is pretty much how we want it, I’ve been getting to work on sprucing up the exterior. It’s rare to be able to rent a unit in Los Angeles with a yard our size and for the price we’re paying, so I’ve been taking advantage of our large outdoor space and have put to root tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, various flowers, berries, and a few other plants. Yes, there are even more plants than those previously listed. I have a slight tendency to go overboard when I get realllllly excited about something. With all the time I’ve been spending digging various holes in the backyard, I noticed a little furry neighbor rustling around in the trees and gallivanting across the electrical wires. He is a squirrel and his name is Fritz. At first I thought he was behind the mild destruction of my carrot greens, and I was fairly miffed at him for an extended period of time. But then I realized that it was being caused by an army of slugs living underneath some nearby leaf mulch (hello, sluggo) and Fritz and I became fast friends once again.
So, because I draw recipe inspiration from increasingly strange and bizarre sources, I decided to make a cake that a squirrel might like (DISCLAIMER: not that I actually fed this to him, this is definitely a humans-only dessert. Please refrain from feeding this to squirrels and/or other rodentia). So I started out with a red velvet cake recipe base, but added hazelnut and maple extracts and refrained from adding red food coloring. I used a pecan-pie filling recipe as the base for the glaze, but thickened it up a bit with powdered sugar and replacing whole eggs with egg yolks. The result was a cake that, while entirely delicious, tasted strikingly like German chocolate cake. I looked up a recipe for German chocolate cake afterwards and, surprise of surprises, German chocolate cake is basically red velvet cake without red food coloring. So, if you want a cake that tastes similar to German chocolate cake, but with lavishly more nuts and maple and no coconut flakes, then this is the cake for you.
Also, last week I held a giveaway with Mooney Farms for a wonderful batch of products made with their sun-dried tomatoes, and I am happy to announce that the winner is….
Begin by making the glaze. In the top of a double boiler, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, cream, corn syrup, butter, corn starch, and salt. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Remove it from the heat and stir in the maple and vanilla extracts until completely combined. Then allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator to chill.
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside. Cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs. Add the buttermilk to the creamed egg mixture, alternating between adding some of the buttermilk and some of the flour mixture until both are incorporated into the creamed egg mixture. Mix together the baking soda and vinegar and then add the mixture to the cake batter. Stir in the hazelnut, maple, and vanilla extracts.
Pour the cake batter into 2 well-greased and lightly floured 8-inch cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature. Drizzle the glaze and distribute the pecans between the cake layers and the top of the cake. Serve immediately.