Walnut-Date Cake with Chocolate Acorn Kisses

Medjool dates, orange and lemon zest, and vanilla bean paste give an extra burst of flavor to this rich Walnut-Date Cake with Chocolate Acorn Kisses.

Walnut-Date Cake with Chocolate Acorn Kisses
 
Makes 1 (8-inch) cake
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups pitted Medjool dates, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Vanilla Bean Buttercream (recipe follows)
  • Chocolate Acorn Kisses (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine dates, vanilla bean paste, and baking soda. Pour 1½ cups boiling water over date mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with baking spray with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Beat in zests. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low. Add date mixture, and beat for 1 minute. (Mixture will look curdled.)
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined. Divide batter among prepared pans. Sprinkle walnuts over batter.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Spread Vanilla Bean Buttercream between layers and on top and sides of cake. Top with Chocolate Acorn Kisses. Garnish with rosemary, if desired.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla bean paste, beating until smooth. Use immediately.

Chocolate Acorn Kisses
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (4-ounce) bar dark chocolate, chopped
  • 12 miniature vanilla wafers
  • 12 milk chocolate kisses
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave dark chocolate on high for 1 minute. Let stand for 30 seconds; stir until melted. Spoon about ¼ teaspoon melted chocolate onto center of flat side of each wafer. Place each wafer onto flat side of a chocolate kiss; let dry for 30 minutes.
  2. Reheat melted chocolate for 30 seconds, if needed. Place a small amount of melted chocolate on top of each wafer, and sprinkle with walnuts; let dry for 30 minutes.

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