When describing this Cornmeal and Rosemary Cake with Balsamic Syrup, Giada de Laurentiis says to "imagine the best corn muffin you've ever tasted, but richer and sweeter." That sounds pretty good to me, and I'm not even the hugest corn muffin fan.
Aside from being a sucker for all things rosemary, what attracts me to this recipe (excerpted here from this week's Cook the Book selection, Giada's Kitchen) is the balsamic syrup. Reducing the ingredients together causes the vinegar to lose its acidity and take on smooth, concentrated, almost chocolatey flavor.
This cake would make an elegant, unusual dessert for a holiday dinner party. Pair slices with glasses of Muscato or cups of spiced tea.
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- For the Cake:
- 1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- For the Balsamic Syrup:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 small fresh rosemary sprig
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
In a medium bowl whisk together the cornmeal, cake flour, minced rosemary, baking powder, and salt.
Using a small stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and vanilla together on low speed until combined. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and eggs 1 at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding the next. Reduce the speed to medium and add the sour cream. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake in the lower third of the oven until the cake is golden and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool. While the cake bakes, make the balsamic syrup. Combine the sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprig and let the syrup cool.