Chiapas Pound Cake

"I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me." - Cary Grant

I've been under the weather for these past few days, so that means no cooking, no baking, just laying back on the couch and catching up on some reality TV such as "The Millionaire Matchmaker." I admit, I'm a sucker for that show! It's fun seeing the crazy people that go on it, the fun dates, and the outcomes, or at least, the supposed outcomes of the dates. Which, by the way, talking about reality dating shows, have any of you been watching this season of "The Bachelor?" I had never seen the show up until this new season with Juan Pablo, but I just have to say it's CRAZY! I have to give props to the two girls who left the show because they were honest with themselves about not having a connection, Sharlene and Andi. They were sincere in how they weren't feeling what they were supposed to, and Andi specifically because Juan Pablo ended up being super into himself and didn't even try to get to know her on an intellectual level. These two girls really brought to light the truth behind these reality shows and I have to admit that it's refreshing to see all this honesty. I'm hooked on this season, and I'm really looking forward to the reunion next week with all the girls. I wonder what other drama will happen or what other behind-the-scenes facts will come out! I know this little post has been totally random topic-wise, but trust me, it ties in with this cake. How? Well, this cake is just like those dating shows. It has a little bit of everything from all over. While on the shows all the contestants have different backgrounds, in this cake, the ingredients do as well but with flavor backgrounds. There's cocoa, corn meal, almond meal, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, honey, amaretto, and vanilla to name a few. When I saw all these ingredients, at first I thought this cake would end up being a dense disaster since nothing seemed to match or flow together, but once I made it, my opinion changed. All the flavors unite into making a flavorful and light cake, while the cocoa nibs add a nice crunch to each slice. Warren Brown did it again with this cake by combining a whole melange of ingredients and it resulting in a nice cake you can munch on throughout your day, maybe even while watching a reality TV show!

Chiapas Pound Cake
adapted from: CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown

*makes: one 12-cup Bundt cake*

"Vanilla, cocoa nibs, honey, cinnamon, cayenne, almonds, and more combine in a dizzying mélange for this recipe. The ancient Olmecs discovered cocoa beans and shared their knowledge with the Mayans, who created a ritual out of making frothy cocoa drinks. It was the Aztecs who added vanilla, honey, and chile pepper for flavor."

12 oz unbleached all purpose flour
2 oz cocoa nibs
1 oz white corn meal
1 oz finely ground almond meal
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tbsp all natural unmodified potato starch
1 tbsp Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup clover honey
3/4 cup ultra-pasteurized half & half
1 tbsp amaretto
2 tsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
6 oz unsalted butter
18 oz extra fine granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 large yolks

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Set the rack in the middle of the oven.
2) Set out the ingredients and equipment.
- Sift the flour directly into a bowl on a scale for accurate measuring.
- Measure the other dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, add the four, and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside.
- Measure honey, half & half, amaretto, and vanilla extract into a separate bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
- Measure the butter and sugar into separate bowls and set aside.
- Crack the eggs and yolks into two separate bowls and set aside.
3) In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
4) With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time followed by the yolks, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixture and scrape the sides of the bowl.
5) Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don't wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
6) Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don't miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter's structure.
7) Prepare the pan. Spray the pan well with a nonstick spray.
8) Fill the pan about three-quarters full by depositing the batter with the rubber spatula in small clumps around the prepared pan instead of by pouring it into one spot. Level the batter with the rubber spatula.
9) Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
10) Once the top of the cake doesn't jiggle, test for doneness by inserting a bamboo skewer in the center of the cake. When the skewer shows just a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done. Due to the honey, this cake will look golden brown across the top and a little darker at the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat-resistant surface or wire rack.
11) Once the cake has cooled for 5 to 10 minutes remove the cake by inverting the pan onto a flat surface.
12) Store under a cake dome at room temperature, or wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 1 week. To store longer, label, date, and freeze the plastic-wrapped cake for up to 1 month.

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