Taking the Cake

It's not often that the entire family has the same craving at the very same time, but occasionally it happens.

The dinner conversation started innocently enough. "Best dessert you've ever had. Go!"

"Mom's Chocolate Mousse."

"The triple layer chocolate cake from the Daily Grill."

"Lemon bars."

"Pastelitos de guayaba. Duh."

"No. Wait! Remember the warm butter cake from California Pizza Kitchen?"

That's where the conversation abruptly ended. We all agreed that yes, the Butter Cake we had had at CPK was the best thing any of us had ever tasted. I actually had a childhood cake experience that came quite close, but that's not important right now.

The conversation eventually turned to: "Mom, you should make it."

And so it was that I went on a hunt for the Best Butter Cake Recipe. It turns out that CPK is not forthcoming with their recipe and that lots of people try to replicate it with varying degrees of success. And truly, there are a lot of good butter cake recipes out there. I finally found one that made me happy in my mom's old Cocina Al Minuto Cookbook. (Go figure.) 

It's called "Cake Coriente." Or, Basic Cake. (Umm...no. It's kind of fantastic. Nothing basic about it.)

So I tweaked Nitza's recipe a bit and played with the cream cheese topping. The key to the cream cheese filling is that it needs to give it the sufficient gooeyness this particular butter cake requires.

I was going to make the cake in individual ramekins, but I stumbled upon these cool mini (5 inch) springform pans at Target (here's the link) from Wilton that made me very happy. And since I was adding the cream cheese, I thought the cakes might go all cheesecake on me, so I decided these were a good choice.

Warm Cuban Butter Cake Recipe

Cake Batter
 (makes 4 - 5 inch cakes)

Start with all the ingredients at room temperature (including the eggs). If any of them are too cold, the batter and the cream cheese layer won't set up correctly.

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Layer

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

1) Spray 4 mini springform pans (or ramekins) with baking spray or butter.

Prepare the cake batter as follows:

2) In a stand mixer cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar for 1-2 minutes.

3) Add eggs one at a time and beat on low for 20 seconds after each addition.

4) Whisk flour and salt, then add to creamed mixture. Beat on low until just incorporated, making sure not to over beat.

5) Add the vanilla.

Prepare the cream cheese layer as follows:

1) In a small bowl whip together cream cheese and granulated sugar until creamed, add egg and vanilla extract.

2) Pour cake batter into prepared springform pans then top with a layer of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 60 – 75 minutes at 325 degrees (F), or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cakes.

You can go ahead and make the cakes a day ahead and refrigerate. When ready to serve, microwave until hot (approximately 40 seconds). With a kitchen torch, you can brûlée the top and sides of the cake to caramelize the sugar crystals, but this is not necessary. The cakes will come out beautifully. I promise.

Optionally, you may want to drizzle with guava marmalade, which takes this dessert to another level, but that's not important right now.

I think the very best part of this entire process for me was licking the beaters.

I swear, I haven't done this for years. I may or may not have traveled back in time a bit.

Also, I promise you, there's nothing "corriente" about this cake.

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