North Carolina: Sweet Potato Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting 

North Carolina

flagofNorthCarolinaflag

Population: 10,042,802
Capital: Raleigh
Admission to the Union: November 21, 1789
Source: Wikipedia

Oh hey, remember when I was going to do that thing where I created a recipe to represent each of the 50 states, but then I put it on hold for like a year and a half? Well Super Bowl Sunday seemed like a perfect excuse to finally pick it back up today.

In case you are a reader from outside the US or you reside in the US, but live under a rock, yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday and this year it was the Denver Broncos vs the Carolina Panthers. Chris and I didn’t have much of a rooting interest in this game since our teams weren’t in it, but we both leaned towards cheering for the Broncos (woo hoo!) since we have a bunch of friends who are Broncos fans. This lead to the very easy decision to make my Colorado style bison tacos for dinner to represent Denver, but what about Carolina?

Despite being called the “Carolina” Panthers, the team actually plays in North Carolina so I wanted to represent that state. The food North Carolina is most famous for is most certainly bbq, but since Chris and I were watching on our own this year and I already had a main course, bbq was clearly too much. I asked a friend who is from NC what other foods were synonymous with the state. He mentioned a few things including sweet potatoes.

I am a huge sweet potato fan. I’d probably consider them one of my favorite foods so I was intrigued. A quick Google search revealed that NC is the number one grower of sweet potatoes in the United States. With that an NC Super Bowl dessert idea was born: Sweet Potato Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese frosting.

Truth be told I liked the cake I ended up with, but I found the frosting too rich and too cloying. If I made this again I would likely only use half a stick of butter and one tablespoon of molasses. Still I rarely make frosted cakes so this was fun to try.

whole frosted

Sweet Potato Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cake:

  • 1 1/3 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes (I microwaved a giant sweet potato until it was mushy)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • zest of one medium orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Grease a 9 inch round pan and preheat the oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the sweet potato, oil and sugar using an electric hand mixer. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda over the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour mixture in to greased pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then transfer to rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses

In a medium sized mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese and butter.

Add the sugar and molasses and beat together until fluffy and creamy.

Frost your cake and serve.

slice

 

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Chocolate Mousse Orange Curd Tart

If you are one of the few people who has actually been reading this blog, you know that I have a very take it or leave it attitude towards chocolate. I don’t dislike it per say, I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. However, since I married in to a full on chocoholic family I’ve been seriously upping my chocolate dessert game.

At one of our delicious meals in Malta, Chris ordered a chocolate and orange pudding dessert. Reminded of how much he loved the combination of chocolate and orange, Chris asked if I’d make some sort of chocolate orange dessert sometime. “Sure, how about I do something for Christmas with your family,” I replied.

Of course I thought this was a completely original idea until I googled and found this recipe. Since I wanted to make sure I had the right amount of mousse to top my tart with, I went ahead and used the author’s chocolate mousse recipe, but I paired it with my favorite orange curd recipe, and since my husband and in laws can never have too much chocolate I decided to make a chocolate crust.

The dessert came out beautifully and was a huge hit. I’m sorry for the crappy pictures, but I wasn’t really thinking about blogging at the time.

curd tart whole

Chocolate Mousse and Orange Curd Tart

For the crust:

  • 1 cup Nabisco famous chocolate wafers; ground to fine crumbs in a food processor or mini chopper
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat over to 350

Combine the cookie crumbs and sugar. Pour in the melted butter, trying to distribute somewhat evenly. Mix together with your fingers until all crumbs are moistened

Dump cookies in to an ungreased 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and begin pressing crumbs down and up the sides of the pan in an even layer. I like to use a heavy drinking glass to help firmly pack the crumbs.

Bake the crumb until it smells fragrant; about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the orange curd:
I use this recipe from The Kitchn. There’s calls for Cara Cara oranges, but you can go ahead and use regular navel oranges for this recipe

  • 3/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • pinch of salt

Put a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and set aside. You’ll need this later.

In a small sauce pan set over medium high heat, bring the juice to a rapid simmer and let it reduce to about 1/4 cup. Pour in to another bowl, add in zest, and allow to cool to room temperature

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and sugar. Whisk in the orange juice and zest.

Pour the egg and juice mixture back into your small sauce pan set over medium heat. Stir the mixture slowly but constantly until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency. This should take about 6-8 minutes.

Grab that mesh strainer and strain the mixture over a bowl to get out any bits of cooked egg.

Stir in the butter and the pinch of salt while the curd is still warm.

Allow to cool until it’s cool enough to handle, but warm enough to still pour easily in to the tart shell.

For the chocolate mousse:
I highly recommend you use a food scale with metric measurements so you can make this as the original recipe is written, but if you don’t have a scale I’ve done my best to convert the recipe here.

  • 5oz good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), broken in to smallish pieces
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 8.5oz heavy cream

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or a metal bowl set over a pot of boiling water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl). Stir until the chocolate is melted, remover from heat and set aside.

Using an electric hand mixer, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Clean beaters. In a separate bowl whisk cream until soft peaks form.

Lightly beat the eggs yolks and add to the melted chocolate mixing until smooth. Add the cream and beat until fully combined.

Add a 3rd of the egg whites and beat until combined, then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites until the mixture is just combined.

To assemble:

Pour the warm orange curd into the cool tart shell, spreading as evenly as possible. Allow to cool.

Spoon chocolate mousse into tart shell and smooth out as evenly as possible.

Chill tart in the fridge 4 hours to over night.

Enjoy!

curd tart cut