Despite our hot and humid weather, I recently found myself in the mood to bake. I had about a quarter of a bag of cherries in the fridge and I knew I wanted to incorporate them into some kind of cake. I was thinking about making something with cherries and cream cheese, like cherry cheesecake cupcakes or cherry and cheese Danishes. Fate had other plans for me though. My visions of cherries and cheese were quickly altered when I opened the fridge to take out the cherries. There in the back of the fridge was a lonely (and kind-of sorry-looking) avocado.
Now, there are plenty of things you can do with an over-ripe avocado (like guacamole or a smoothie for starters) without incorporating it into cake. But that’s no fun. I wanted to make something fun and out of the ordinary. So cake it was. (Plus I’ve been dying to make avocado cake ever since I saw it on Lorraine’s lovely blog!) My next question was how to incorporate both avocado and cherries into the same cake so that someone would actually want to eat it (admittedly, it is a strange combination, no?). I thought about making separate layers to keep the pretty red color from the cherries separate from the green avocado layer, and that’s when the idea of Spumone Cake came to me.
Spumone is an Italian ice cream with different flavored layers. It usually has three layers: chocolate, pistachio, as well as some kind of fruit. For this cake, I started out using my basic recipe for classic yellow cake and then divided the batter into three different layers – chocolate, pistachio, and cherry. I thought that adding avocado to the pistachio-flavored layer of the cake would be a great way to naturally dye the cake green and also keep it moist.
I had high expectations for this cake and it was everything I had hoped it would be. After being fully baked it retained a moist, almost pudding-like consistency because of the avocado. This made it very rich, so be forewarned – a small piece is filling! The chocolate layer had a deep chocolate flavor; it was dense and reminded me of a brownie. The cherry layer was tinted with just a little almond extract to highlight the cherry flavor (cherries and almonds are a match made in heaven…which is why when you eat raw, unsalted almonds you may notice their slightly sweet, cherry flavor). The pistachio layer did not taste like avocado at all; it was full of pistachio flavor and because it was the middle layer, it kept the rest of the cake moist. There was definitely no need to frost this cake; I just sprinkled on a dusting of powdered sugar.
I think I just may have to put myself in the position again where I have a couple of cups of cherries and an over-ripe avocado lying around in my fridge. ;)
(Yield: 1 cake, about 8-10 servings)
1 1/2 c white sugar
3/4 c canola oil
3/4 c milk
2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c cherries, pitted and quartered (plus a few more cherries for garnish if desired)
1 Haas avocado
2 tsp pistachio extract
1 tsp almond extract
6 oz semisweet chocolate
2 TB cocoa powder
Butter and flour (to prepare the cake pan)
Powdered sugar (optional, to garnish)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the cherries until they are slightly softened and starting to look glossy (about 5 minutes). Set aside to cool to room temperature; stir in the almond extract.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler; cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350F; butter and flour a springform pan. Beat together the sugar and oil, then cream in the eggs until light and fluffy; stir in the milk. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet; stir until just combined, making sure not to over-mix. Divide the batter equally into 3 separate bowls.
Mash the avocado; stir in the pistachio extract.
To bowl #1, stir in the avocado/pistachio extract mixture. To bowl #2, stir in the cherry/almond extract mixture. To bowl #3, stir in the melted chocolate and cocoa powder.
Pour the chocolate batter into the springform pan and spread out in an even layer; pour the pistachio batter on top of the chocolate batter and spread out; lastly, pour the cherry batter on top of the pistachio batter and spread out. Bake 45-55 minutes, until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs.