A small slice of this dense pecan torte satisfies the largest appetite. The combination of pecans and bourbon in the silky smooth whipped cream is a vintage Southern crowd-pleasing flavor. You may even opt to put a drop or two of bourbon in your accompanying coffee.—David Leite
For the pecan torte
1 3/4 cups pecans
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
For the whipped cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line the bottom of a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, process the pecans, flour, and salt until finely ground; do not overprocess. Set aside.
3. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar with the whisk on medium-high speed until pale and thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the pecan mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk. Beat the egg whites with the whisk on medium speed until they start to foam. Add a third of the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar and beat until the whites are opaque, then add another third of the sugar. When the whites start to increase in volume and become firm, add the remaining sugar and increase the speed to high. Beat until the whites form soft peaks but still look wet (note below). Using the spatula, carefully fold a third of the whites into the pecan mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
6. Run a table knife around the edge of the pan and invert the pecan torte onto a serving plate. Peel off the parchment paper. Put it right side up on the serving plate.
7. Just before serving, make the whipped cream: Whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar, bourbon, and vanilla until the cream just holds its shape. Cut the torte into wedges and place a dollop of whipped cream alongside each serving of pecan torte.
Whipping egg whites
For successful whipping, the bowl and beaters must be perfectly clean, because even a trace of fat prevents good loft, it is also important to start with room-temperature whites. Sugar and/or cream of tartar are often added during whipping to help stabilize the whites. To test if the whites are shipped to the desired finish, left the beaters, soft peaks should droop over gently and look wet; medium firm peaks should stand upright but still appear moist and satiny.
Beating air into cream stiffens it for use as a filling, frosting, or garnish. Always take cream for whipping straight from the refrigerator; cream allowed to stand at room temperature is more likely to separate as it is being whipped. Also chill the bowl and beaters (or whisk) on warm days or in a warm kitchen, if you have over whipped the cream, and it is too stiff, try folding in a few tablespoons of cream, one at a time, from the carton.
Keep in mind that cream labeled “ultra pasteurized” will not rise to the same billowing heights as regular pasteurized cream.
Recipe © 2003 Williams-Sonoma. All rights reserved.