Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Sweet Spot

Courtesy of the public library, I’ve spent the past few weeks perusing and trying a couple of recipes from The Sweet Spot by Pichet Ong. I don’t know a lot about Asian-themed desserts, so it has been kind of fun to look over the recipes and have my curiosity piqued over some of the flavor combinations.

The first recipe that caught my eye was the three-layer Carrot Cake with Lime-Cream Cheese Frosting, which has dark-rum-soaked raisins sprinkled over the filling between the layers.

I made the cake last weekend, and it was pretty much a disaster. The recipe calls for the batter to be baked as one layer, then split into three sections. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I used my biggest, deepest 10-in. springform pan, the batter overflowed the pan in the oven. I was further disappointed when I sliced the cake into layers. My sense was that the cake was very moist, but more on the greasy side -- the worst attribute of carrot cake. (The cake uses a half-pound of butter and a half cup of cooking oil as the fat.)

What had revved me up about the recipe was the lime-cream cheese filling/frosting. That recipe turned out to be even more of a disaster than the cake itself. The frosting includes cream cheese and a bit of sugar and salt; that stuff is beaten together. Then lime zest and lime juice are added. Finally, nearly 2 cups of sour cream is folded in. Then the frosting/filling chills to set up before the cake is assembled. The frosting/filling I made never set up. It’s got a pretty nice glaze consistency, but in no way can it be considered firm enough to use as a frosting/filling. I now have a plastic container full of this goo in the fridge, and I’m trying to decide what sort of pound cake or Bundt cake would be best-suited to this glaze.

I ended up making a regular cream cheese frosting and adding the lime zest to it, and lime juice in place of vanilla. However, I was so angry while assembling the cake that I forgot to sprinkle the rum-soaked raisins over the frosting/filling between the layers. I now have a cup of dark-rum-soaked raisins in the fridge, and I’m trying to decide what sort of anything would be a good destination for these beauties.

In the meantime, I had a huge success from this book, so it’s not all bad news. Condensed Milk Pound Cake sounded unusual and intriguing. This pound cake has a minimal amount of sugar, but some of the sweetening comes from adding sweetened condensed milk to the batter. Plus, the cake batter is prepared in a food processor. I knew that would be good in terms of pulverizing the half-cup of sugar, reducing the chance of a coarse, grainy batter. Still, I had some misgivings about whether to try this cake; the photo in the book shows a cake that has baked extremely brown (looking borderline burned). As the photo above shows, my cake turned out a beautiful tan, with a creamy, tight, fine-crumbed interior. This pound cake is fantastic: not too sweet, not terribly dense. Really a nifty recipe.

Before I return this book, I am planning to make Chocolate-Mango Cheesecake Parfait with Chocolate Macadamia Cookie Crumbs. There are also some great-sounding cookie recipes, too.


Spingoddess said...

Wow, DB, you'd better start running right before you try new recipes, I could feel your blood pressure going up there! But that pound cake looks amazing.

How about those rum raisins as an ice cream topping over plain pound cake? Too boring?

Obscure Reference said...

Here's a good destination for the rum soaked raisins: send them to Ryan for ice cream. :^)

Glenn Blakney said...


I'm a friend of Ken Cring up here in Wenham. Very nice site, and great photos! Who takes those shots? I have a food blog as well, over at be in my profile) and I have to admit to borrowing shots from Williams-Sonoma and Marth Stewart. You've got a gift: baking is as much chemistry as anything else and few people can manage it well. Check out as a very nice baking site.

Chris H said...

Thanks for the kind comments, Glenn! I've taken all the photos except the one of the German chocolate cake. Food photography is difficult. I end up thinking that most of the time, the baked goods appear really unappealing. As for baking ability, I think it really draws from that same genetic flaw that makes me a copy editor. Ha. Thanks for the other blog sites you mentioned. I'll check them out!

Chris H said...

Hi Aubrey,

As it ended up (see blog entry), I used the rum raisins in a pound cake. While I like boozy things from time to time (and especially like rum-raisin ice cream), I don't necessarily like boozy things on top of ice cream. (I'm entitled to my own gustatory fussiness, right? Ha.)

Thanks for the nice comment, and thanks for checking out the blog!