I like to come up with a new recipe each Christmas to make as home-made gifts for my close friends and neighbors, so this year I decided to make iced spice cake petit fours. The cake is a very simple, savory base, which as it baked, it filled the house with all of those wonderful scents of cinnamon, vanilla, molasses, and allspice that remind me of the holidays.
At first, I was going to ice the petit fours with a salted caramel icing but decided praline with chopped pecans was a better choice, which turned out to be the right one. Both my husband and my daughter made the always appreciative ‘yummy’ sound as they took their first bite. I had to chime in, too; these were delicious!
For the cake:
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
For the icing:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
For the cake:
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 12 baking pan with the cooking spray.
2) Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and allspice in a large bowl and set aside.
3) In a smaller bowl, beat the sugar, shortening, and vanilla extract with a mixer on medium speed until combined about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Beat one minute more after last addition until smooth.
4) Combine the milk and molasses in a bowl and stir until incorporated.
5) Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.
6) Pour the batter into the baking pan and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool.
7) Once the cake is cool, invert the pan over a cutting board and cut the cake into one-inch cubes.
8) Place the cooling rack over the now empty cake pan and place the cubes on top of the rack, so the icing drips into the pan.
For the icing:
1) Combine the brown sugar, milk, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil occasionally stirring until the sugar has melted.
2) Remove the pan from the heat and add the powdered sugar and the vanilla extract. Beat the icing with a mixer on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes until the icing is smooth and has thickened.
3) Working quickly, pour the icing over the cake cubes covering the tops completely, allowing the icing to drip over the sides.
4) Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of each cube and leave the cakes undisturbed as the icing cools and hardens.
5) Serve the petit fours immediately or store them loosely covered in the refrigerator. If refrigerating, bring the petit fours to room temperature before serving.