That is all reason enough not to make pumpkin pie. But there's this other thing. My pie allergy. See the previous blog post for more details. So, although I'm volunteering to make a Thanksgiving dessert, it will be neither pie nor pumpkin.
It must reflect autumnal coolness and shortening days. It must, as well, contain jam or marmalade. This goes without saying. Jam and marmalade constantly need to be used up in my house. In fact, where most people have gallons of milk, lovely fresh produce, perhaps a whole 30-pound turkey in their fridge, I have jam and marmalade. Quarts of it. Gallons of it. Jars and jars and jars of it.
I will combine my need to dispose of jam with my deep desire to finally execute Suzanne Goin's Hazelnut-Brown Butter Cake but with jam instead of her sauteed pears (from her luscious cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques.) But that's not enough. I will take my friend and pastry chef Melissa's idea and make it a layer cake, in order to use the jam. The top may also include homemade toffee bark that I'll make with my cousin Jill, this Sunday. We'll see. With all the jam-making and wrapping this time of year, anything I present to the Thanksgiving feast will feel like a miracle. Let's hope it's a chocolate-hazelnut-jammy miracle this year. See below for the recipe and I'll post a nice photo if it turns out. Let me know how yours tastes.
Hazelnut-Brown Butter Layer Cake
5 oz. blanched hazelnuts
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean
1 1/3 c. confectioner's sugar
1/3 c. all purpose flour
5 extra-large egg whites
3 Tb. sugar
1 c. heavy cream
3 cups jam, marmalade or chocolate ganache
Homemade toffee for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two round cake pans. Melt butter and add vanilla pod, after slicing in half. Cook butter 6-8 minutes, until it smells nutty.
Grind hazelnuts with confectioner's sugar in a food processor until they're completely ground. Add flour and pulse to combine.
Add egg whites and sugar to a stand mixer and mix on high for 4-5 minutes, until they form stiff peaks. Fold in dry ingredients.
Pour into pans and cook for 1 hour. Cool for 30 minutes. Layer half of jam on bottom layer of cake and slide second on top. Top the whole cake with more jam, marmalade or ganache. Garnish with toffee, roasted hazelnuts, candied orange peel or persimmon leaves.