Fresh Fig Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

From the wonderful Melissa Clark of the NY Times. I used a fig butter from Trader’s Joes and it was delicious. I made this in a 10″ springform pan but you could also bake it in two 9″ cake pans. I only made a half recipe of the frosting as I did not split the cake horizontally and just frosted the top.

Butter, for greasing the pan
3 cups/384 grams all-purpose flour, more for flouring the pan
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ cups/300 grams granulated sugar
4 large eggs
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons buttermilk or plain yogurt
¾ cup/116 grams chopped fresh figs (3 to 4 figs)
¾ cup/225 grams fig jam
¾ cup/85 grams chopped pecans or walnuts
12 tablespoons/180 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
2 cups/16 ounces/454 grams cream cheese, softened
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons/60 grams honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ⅔ cups/450 grams confectioners’ sugar
1 cup sliced fresh figs (about 5 figs)

Make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch cake pan (or two 9-inch pans), and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, baking soda and salt.
Using an electric mixer, whisk to combine sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Whisk in oil and buttermilk or yogurt to combine.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold dry ingredients into egg mixture just until combined. Fold in figs, jam and pecans.
Scrape into prepared cake pan and bake until browned and springy to the touch, about 65 to 75 minutes (or 35 to 45 minutes for the 9-inch pans). If the top gets too dark before the cake is finished baking, cover it with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
While cake is cooling, make the frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese and salt on low speed until smooth. Beat in honey and vanilla, then beat in confectioners’ sugar.
To assemble the cake, remove cooled cake from pan and peel off parchment paper. Slice cake in half horizontally, so you end up with 2 layers. (You don’t need to do this for the 9-inch cakes.) Spread half the frosting between the layers, sandwiching it. Dollop remaining frosting in a thick layer on top of the cake, leaving a 1-inch border on the top of the cake, the sides, bare. Chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, top with sliced figs.

Salted Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookie

This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen’s latest email. Once you have prepped all of the ingredients, the cookie dough comes together quickly. You cannot go wrong with this cookie-it is full of wonderful tastes and textures! These hearty cookies have something for everyone—they’re chewy, crunchy, salty, and sweet.

1 ¼ cups (6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (3 ounces) quick oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
⅔ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 ½ ounces pretzel sticks, coarsely crushed (2/3 cup)
Flake sea salt

1. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter, egg, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
2. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture; continue to mix until just combined. Add chocolate chips and pretzels and mix until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
3. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 2 tablespoons chilled dough at a time, roll into 1 1/2-inch balls and space them evenly on prepared sheets, 12 per sheet. Press each ball to 3/4-inch thickness using bottom of greased dry measuring cup.
4. Bake until puffed and cracks just form on top, 11 to 13 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving.

Corn Risotto

From the NY Times. Our corn in CO is almost gone so I had to make this at least once this season! Making the corn stock from the cobs is so easy and adds great flavor. I love fresh marjoram on my corn risotto but my husband prefers basil so I garnish them separately. I am not sure that the softly whipped cream is necessary but it adds to the beauty and texture! I did not have a leek so I used shallots.

2 corn cobs (kernels removed and reserved for risotto)
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
Dark green leaves from 1 leek (reserve white and light green parts for risotto)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
6 cups hot corn stock or chicken stock
1 ½ cups raw corn kernels (from about 2 ears corn)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced chives (optional)

Combine all ingredients with 6 cups water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat so liquid is simmering; cover pot and let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Add enough water to bring liquid up to 6 cups.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide, high-sided sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains look slightly translucent.
Pour in wine and cook, stirring, until it has all been absorbed, about 2 minutes.
Add a ladleful of hot corn stock to the rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until rice has absorbed all of the stock. Continue cooking, adding ladlefuls of stock whenever rice mixture looks dry and stirring continuously. When half the stock has been added, stir in corn. Continue cooking until all of the stock is incorporated, corn is tender and rice is creamy and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes total.
Remove risotto from heat and stir in Parmesan and remaining tablespoon of butter. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream at high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Uncover risotto, stir vigorously and season to taste with salt and pepper. Immediately before serving, stir in the chives, if using, then gently fold in cream.

Creamy Hummus

I buy my chickpeas (skinless is the key to hummus that is creamy and silky) from maureenaboodmarket. They are a little pricey but it beats taking the time to boil the chickpeas with baking soda and skinning g them. Maureen has a wonderful cookbook called Rose Water And Orange Blossoms that has wonderful Lebanese recipes. This is her recipe for hummus from the book by far the best hummus recipe I have ever made. I use Soom Tahini but I have heard that Trader Joe’s has a great tahini.

1 c. dried chickpeas
Cover with 6″ of water. Bring to a boil. Skim the froth from the top as it boils, when clear, add
1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 t. kosher salt
1 bay leaf
Cover and bring to a boil, simmer for 90 minutes, staying close by so it doesn’t boil over. Uncover and simmer 90 minutes on medium low heat. Add more water if it gets low.
Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain chickpeas, discarding onion and bay leaf.
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c. tahini, well stirred
1/2 t. kosher salt
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 to 1 c. chickpea cooking liquid, as needed, or cold water

In the bowl of the food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic until a thick paste forms. Slowly add the tahini, salt and lemon juice. Add the cooled cup of water as needed until very smooth and light.Taste and add more salt and lemon if needed. Place in a bowl and refrigerate up to one week. Serve at room temperature, bringing out 30 minutes before needed.