Small amount of vegetable shortening and flour, plus parchment paper for preparing pan
1¼ cups dried apricots
1/3 cup dark rum
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1½ cups pecan halves
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 12 whole crackers)
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 or 2 tablespoons confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine apricots and rum; stir to mix. Cover tightly and set aside for at least one hour or up to overnight to marinate. Stir occasionally to ensure the rum is evenly distributed throughout the fruit. Tip: Place the mixture in a sealable plastic bag to marinate. Turn the bag over occasionally to disburse the rum evenly throughout the fruit.
- Preheat oven to 350o degrees F. Prepare one 9-inch round springform pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.
- In top of a double boiler over hot water, melt semisweet chocolate. Or, place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, use 50% power and stir frequently just until the chocolate is melted; do not overheat as chocolate will burn easily. Set aside to cool slightly.
Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water. See Melting Chocolate – How to Melt Chocolate.
- Place the pecans and flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until pecans are finely chopped. Remove the pecan mixture from the processor and set aside.
- Place the grahams crackers in the food processor bowl and process until the crackers are fine crumbs. Remove the crumbs from the processor and set aside.
- Place the marinated apricots and rum in the food processor bowl and pulse until apricots are chopped medium fine. Remove the apricot mixture from the processor and set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed. Add the vanilla along with the last egg. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled.
Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the melted and cooled chocolate, pecan mixture, and graham cracker crumbs, mix until blended.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the apricot mixture into the batter.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center has just a few moist crumbs that cling to the toothpick. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When cooled, remove cake from pan.
- When cooled the cake can be served plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or decorated any way you wish.
Source: Hansen Kaye and Liv Hansen, The Whimsical Bakehouse, Clarkson Potter, New York, 2002