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Pecan Cake with Caramel Mousse and Brown Sugar Topping

Photo: Nigel Cox; Styling: Tiziana Agnello
Hands-on time 45 mins
Total time 1 hr, 25 mins
Yield Serves 16 (serving size: 1 wedge)

Ingredients

  • Cake:
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 2/3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ground toasted pecans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Baking spray with flour
  • Mousse:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed
  • Topping:
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Nutrition Information

  • calories 279
  • fat 14.6 g
  • satfat 5.6 g
  • monofat 6 g
  • polyfat 2.3 g
  • protein 3.8 g
  • carbohydrate 33.7 g
  • fiber 0.9 g
  • cholesterol 53 mg
  • iron 1 mg
  • sodium 156 mg
  • calcium 58 mg

How to Make It

  1. To prepare cake, preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Place the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and beat just until incorporated.

  3. Divide the batter evenly between 2 (8-inch) round metal cake pans coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire rack.

  4. To prepare mousse, place 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook until sugar dissolves, stirring gently as needed to dissolve sugar evenly (about 4 minutes). Carefully stir in milk and 1 teaspoon melted butter (mixture will bubble and caramelized sugar will harden and stick to spoon); cook 1 minute or until sugar melts. Combine cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook until thick and bubbly (about 1 minute), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in bourbon, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and dash of salt. Pour into a bowl; cover and chill for 20 minutes. Uncover and fold in one-third of whipped topping. Gently fold in remaining whipped topping.

  5. Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Spread mousse over cake, leaving a 1-inch border around outside edge. Top with remaining cake layer.

  6. To prepare topping, place brown sugar and the next 5 ingredients (through dash of salt) in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, and bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook until a candy thermometer registers 234° (about 3 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in chopped pecans and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Drizzle over top of cake, spreading it out over edges. Let stand until topping is set.