|Bacon and spice cake - these will amuse your bouche and Rock your Amadeus - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
It’s a bit astonishing to look through MySpiceSage.com’s offerings. Picture Keanu Reeves’ Neo from The Matrix, with his monosyllabic utterance of awe: “...Whoa.” Berbere Spice. Epazote. More masala than you can shake a stick at. There are literally hundreds of different spices available. Plus you can pick a free sample with every order and they add in a little extra sample of whatever is in season or something special for that month. My tastebuds were doing a happy dance. I like that there are options for whole spices like cardamom pods, as well as a library of spice mixes that read like a world traveler’s passport. I wanted to go wild, but for my dish, I decided to go with a combination of unique and familiar.
The Prime was given the opportunity to play around with a spice-themed recipe, more specifically, to participate with foodie site Kitchen Play, who is literally celebrating the spice of life by sampling the encyclopedic offerings from MySpiceSage.com. Selected food bloggers are tasked to come up with a unique menu for their monthly Progressive Party, which is a bit like a virtual dinner party, and I was asked to bring an appetizer.
I wanted to create a little nibble with big flavor. I also wanted elements of sweet and savory, so I used MySpiceSage.com’s Pumpkin Pie Spice blend to help bridge the gap with its full-bodied mix of fragrant spices. Their blend is a familiar blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves that enhance the mild sweetness of pumpkin, but it can be used in other things, like cookies and breads, or even a dry rub on a pork tenderloin. That’s the great thing about spices in general – it’s less about sweet versus savory and more about interpreting the fragrant undertones of each spice.
For my amuse-bouche, I adapted a spice cake recipe I’ve used for -- funny enough -- a whoopee pie,
and balanced its spiced cake sweetness with the creamy richness of goat cheese blended with ground
cardamom. Then I topped it with a savory/sweet hunk of maple-glazed bacon.
Spiced Cake Bites Topped with Cardamom Goat Cheese and Maple Bacon
(makes 24 to 36 bites, depending on how large you cut them)
Spice cake recipe
3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tblsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1.5 c brown sugar, lightly packed
1 c vegetable oil
1 c plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix the sugar, oil, vanilla and yogurt together until blended and then slowly add each egg until fully incorporated. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients, a third at a time, mixing until incorporated for each third. Do not over mix. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter.
Lightly grease and flour a rectangular cake pan or casserole dish and pour in batter. Make sure there are no air bubbles and surface is smooth. Place in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fully baked, where sticking a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out dry.
When the cake is done, cool and carefully unmold. Let it fully cool before cutting into small bite-sized pieces. You can use special cutters for decorative shapes or make simple squares. You can make the cake bites a day ahead and keep in an airtight container until serving.
1 cup of goat cheese, softened
2 tsp of ground cardamom
6 to 10 slices of thick-cut bacon
2 tblsp of maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the bacon on the sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until bacon begins to brown. Remove the pan and brush the slices with the maple syrup. Return the pan of bacon to the oven for another 5 to 6 minutes until the bacon is crisp and fully baked.
Let the bacon cool before breaking into small pieces. While it’s cooling, fold the ground cardamom into the softened goat cheese until fully combined. To construct each bite, you can roll the spiced goat cheese into little balls before placing on each cake bite, and then finish with a small bit of bacon.
The Fine Print: the contest is sponsored, but don't be hatin' because the dishes are all really yummy