My daughter never ceases to amaze me. Take for instance her eating habits: generally speaking, she is a very good eater and does not shy away from green vegetables or pasta with a sauce other than butter and cheese. She does express moments of extreme pickiness like when the crusts are not removed from her peanut and butter sandwich or flecks of parsley are lingering about in her bean salad. If I am not quick enough to remove the offending food item, she immediately hands it to me in disgust and gives me a look that could kill.
But there are some foods that she has grown to love that I would never in a million years think a toddler would dare go near let alone be willing to taste. Like her dad she cannot get enough of anything pickled. Giardiniera (which means “under vinegar”, a term for pickled vegetables in Italy) is her favorite and pickles, of course. She doesn’t shy away from prosciutto or salami. I am certainly not holding my breath to think my daughter has blossomed into a little gourmand. It could all go out the window tomorrow and she could revert to eating only frozen waffles all day because that’s just how toddlers roll. In the meantime, I will relish in the fact that she requests capers on her pizza.
Valentine’s Day is usually uneventful for me just because I choose it to be however, this year I thought I would embrace the holiday and treat the two loves of my life to something sweet. And since my husband and daughter can’t seem to get enough of Amarena cherries, I wanted to bake them a dessert using these sweet and juicy bites of goodness. For those of you who are not familiar with Amarena cherries, they a small sour dark colored cherry grown in Italy. It is usually bottled in syrup and used to top desserts. The original recipe for this cake called for using 1/4 cup Grand Marnier and semi-sweet chocolate chips but I put my own spin on it and used almond extract and white chocolate chips instead. It was love at first bite!
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup polenta or cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons Amarena cherry syrup
- 1 cup Amarena cherries, drained
- ½ cup white chocolate chocolate chips
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut out an 8-inch circle of parchment paper. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, then place the parchment circle into the pan and butter it, as well. Dust the pan with flour, shaking out the excess.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the almond extract and cherry syrup. Add the sifted dry ingredients, stirring to blend completely.
- Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks. Fold about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it. Then fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter, using large, slow strokes to incorporate the egg whites (there shouldn’t be clumps of egg white in the batter). Gently fold in the Amarena cherries and white chocolate chips. Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Bake for about 35–45 minutes, until the top of the cake is deeply golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of crumbs. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for about 30 minutes; run a thin spatula around the perimeter and invert the cake onto a serving plate (removing the parchment paper). Dust with powdered sugar if desired.