If You Have A Couple Hours To Kill….

I must remind myself not to take on big pastry projects when I am watching the season finale of one of my shows. And speaking of TV show finales…it is MARCH. What is up with shows starting in late October and then taking a break in December and part of January and then they are done in March! Does anyone else remember the days of a show starting September and going till May?
Okay enough about that. My point was I got all into watching What About Brian and I forgot a step. Not an important one luckily, but a step none the less. I forgot to spread the apricot preserves over the pastry…which I can not say for sure would have really made that much difference in the taste. I’m not sure what made me want to make this. I was just in the mood for a multi-step recipe. I know, I know…most people are looking how to simplify their life…I look how to complicate it. It is called a cake but not really in my opinion. It is sweet pastry dough that is wrapped around a gooey caramel walnut filling and then has chocolate glaze dumped on it….ha, dumped on it(no wonder I am not a food writer!) Now the serving suggestion size is one inch but my piece for breakfast was larger than that and I had no problems getting it down…though I will agree that it is very rich. Your friends and family would be quite impressed if you made this for them.

Chocolate Walnut-Caramel Cake

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup whipped cream
2 ½ cups walnut half’s
7 TBSP unsalted butter. softened
1 egg white, lightly beaten
½ cup apricot preserves
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 TBSP unsalted butter

Sweet Tart Pastry
10 TBSP cold butter
4 egg yolks
¼ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 1 ¾ cups flour

Sweet Tart Pastry:
Place egg yolks, salt, sugar, vanilla and butter in a bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade; process using 4 one-second pulses until partially mixed. Add flour all at once and process with 6 to 8 one- second pulses until dough begins to clump(but does not form a ball). Gather dough into a rough mound on work surface. Work small portions of the dough against the work surface with the heel of your hand(pushing the dough away from you). Press pieces of dough into a ball. Divided ball into two pieces: one piece that is less than two thirds of the dough for the bottom crust, and one piece that is just over one third of the dough for the top. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.

To make the cake:

1.Prepare Sweet Tart Pastry: Line bottom of an 8-inch diameter, 1 ½ inch deep, round cake pan(I used a spring form) with a circle of parchment paper. Brush sides of pan with melted butter. Roll out the larger piece of dough into a circle 1/8 inch thick and 10 inches in diameter. Mold the dough to bottom and sides of pan with gentle finger pressure. If the dough breaks as you are trying to fit it into the pan, just press into into the pan all around in and even layer. Patch holes with small pieces of dough. The bottom and sides of the pan must be covered with an even layer of pastry; none of the pan should show through. Wrap pastry shell and refrigerate while you make filling. Roll out the small piece of dough into a circle 1/8 inch thick and 8 inches in diameter. Prick all over with a fork. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheet, cover and refrigerate.
2. Place sugar and water in a 2 ½ quart saucepan, stir until sugar dissolves and syrup comes to a boil. Boil, without stirring, until sugar is a light caramel color.(320F on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat.
3.Add cream and stir to blend. Then stir in the walnuts and the 7 TBSP soft butter. Return to heat, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil gently until the syrup reaches 225F on candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Cool for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat oven to 375F.
4.Brush inside of pastry-lined cake pan with a thin layer of egg white to moisture proof shell. Spread cooled caramel filling in bottom of shell. Trim the sides of pastry shell to 1/8 inch above filling. Place pastry lid on top; press to seal at edges.
5.Bake until pastry is golden brown(40-50 minutes). Remove from oven; cool in pan 30 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before covering with chocolate glaze.
6.Heat apricot preserves until melted and bubbly. Strain to remove piece of fruit. Brush entire surface of cooled pastry with warm preserves.
7.To make chocolate glaze: Break chocolate into small pieces and place in a small stainless steel bowl over a pot of hot(not boiling)water. Melt the 4 TBSP butter in a small saucepan, and skim off the white foam that rises to the top. When chocolate is just melted, stir in the clarified butter(discard the white solids left behind). Set aside until chocolate is 86F.
8.Slide cake onto a cardboard cake circle(covered with foil) that is slightly small in diameter that the cake. Place cake on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour chocolate glaze over cake and using a narrow metal spatula, quickly pared it evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Allow chocolate to set to firm consistency before serving.
9.Store cake at cool room temperature. If refrigerated, allow to warm to room temperature before serving. Serve in 1-inch wedges. Cake is very rich. Serves 12.

Source: Adapted from Cakes and Pastries at the Academy by the Califonia Culinary Academy

P.S. Don’t forget to vote for HHDD #10 Cheesecake. There are less than 5 days to do so!!!




  1. What a gorgeous dessert. I love the pattern made by the nuts…

    And yes, I feel the same way about TV seasons…


  2. Holy cow! Are you kidding me? I have a couple of hours to kill…..so that I can sit on the couch and eat this up! Yummy!

  3. VERY beautiful. (Though I think I’d have to kill several hours in the gym before even entering the same room as this gorgeous cake.)

  4. Maybe I should be asking you for suggestions for April’s challenge, you always come up with the best desserts!

  5. There is nothing better in life than when all the things you love are combined into one. Chocolate. Caramel. Walnuts.

    I want to marry this cake!

  6. OMG. Who is eating that? That is so out of sight incredible!!
    I can decide who to vote for…that is just too hard.

  7. Looks really gorgeous ….. but I cannot eat it! I can’t touch walnuts! Pity :-(

  8. That is one amazing cake/dessert!!! I am dying to try it now!

  9. OMG! That looks so big nutty and delicious. Caramel, chocolate and nuts are just great together and this is an amazing looking cake!

  10. I love the walnut pattern inside. Even though it looks difficult to achieve I have to try it

  11. Oooh, that looks beautiful, and very sweet. And even though I didn’t participate, I will vote!

  12. Peabody, that cake is a thing of beauty and danger. Where can I get a piece? :D

  13. One, I agree with you on this new tv season schedule. I too remember seasons that went from Sept. to May, and now they start late, stop early and take 8 million breaks in between, AAAHHH.

    That is not a cake. It looks like the most amazing candy bar on steriods ever. That is just not fair to do that to us so early in the morning.

  14. fantastic!!! It’s my type of cake/pastry/candy :D

  15. YUM! that’s all I can say!

  16. Peabody, if you ever want to kill an hour here in my kitchen be my guest. ;)

  17. The name says it all walnuts,caramel,chocolate, my kind of breakfast! About the tart dough, I guess I see where my mistake was with mine when I tried a tart recipe earlier this week. I did not do small portions and did not use the heel of my hand. I just smooshed mine together with my hands. I ended up with no tart to show for it.

  18. Looks delicious, I love the perfect chocolate coating. I made a walnut and syrup cake yesterday but it doesn’t look as rich or delicious as yours!!

  19. this looks incredibly decadent… just what i need right now. i am craving cake like there’s no tomorrow

  20. Another lick the screen goodie. Looks a lot like a spectacular candy bar…YUM.
    I’m with you on the TV schedule madness. I’ve mostly given up watching TV series because they stop and start and switch days and times on you. TiVO seems to be the way to go, but that won’t create extra episodes. Sigh.

  21. I’m so certain that thing would kill me! It looks so good though!


  22. This looks so great – a delicious cross between a cake and so many other sweet things… I am always so in awe of your photography, Elle has it right when she says it is a lick the screen one!

  23. 1hollygolightly says:

    Looks yummy as all of your stuff does! Also I’m glad I’m not the only one watching What About Brian!!!

  24. Holy crap, Gracie.. sub peanuts for the walnuts and you’ve got yourself a Snickers cake. Not that it would matter either way – it looks phenomenal.

    I don’t want to marry it like Ivonne.. but I’d certainly make out with it!


  25. I was just thinking like Lisa…My dentist does not want to come here and visit anymore…
    Beautiful cake…anything with some good caramel crunch!

  26. This is a cake indeed! Yum!

  27. Peabody, I have not yet read the recipe.only your text and I have also admired those wonderful pictures. I would dared to say that you have become my baker roll model..(does it sound weird? hope not)I feel inspired and also reassured that it is not mad to want to spend time creating wonderful things. Well, I am not at the stage when I create wonderful things but on the path towards it.

  28. Wow…this looks insanely decadant…love the garnish too.

  29. I thought I was the only person on this earth who watches What About Brian. I’m no longer alone! Do you think it will be back for another season?
    I was surprised it was the season finale too. What the heck??

    OK – now on to food talk. That looks so incredible! Well worth the time!

  30. Marvelous – skipped step and all!

  31. Missed step or not, that looks fantastic!

  32. This cake was great! I had a heck of a time slicing it up after refrigerating it. Did you refrigerate/have that problem? Or did I overcook the caramel again?

  33. I made this cake two days ago, and everyone agreed that it was delicious! I skipped the apricot reserves as well.

    To anyone reading this I have some additional advice that you might want to add to the recipe:
    * Before adding the walnuts to the mix, be sure to wash them thorougly! You might end up with too much of the ‘dirty walnut’ taste otherwise. :(
    * When doing the caramel, watch the temperature like a hawk and remove it from the plate as soon as it’s ready. It burns the second you relax!

    I had to redo the filling from scratch because of this. :)

  34. This looks beyond fabulous.

  35. I think it has a lot of butter! I’m sorry because the recipe did not work! :(

  36. Marie Broome says:

    Maybe I am missing it here, but how much flour for the pastry part? I’m exhausted and perhaps just not seeing the amount of flour needed. Help?

  37. Marie Broome says:

    Oh my gosh…please excuse my oversight… THE FLOUR AMOUNT IS LISTED. I APOLOGIZE WHOLE HEARTILY! SO SORRY.

  38. :-) no problem

  39. Pat Smith says:

    Sorry but I don’t see the amount of flour to use……

  40. Peabody says:

    @pat it’s listed on the same line as the extract

  41. Elizabeth says:

    You have to watch this recipe. It is ridiculously complicated. When you add the cream, your sugar syrup will seize up and you’ll need to stir and be patient with it to talk it back into a lovely caramel. There should probably be a warning about that. The dough is seriously soft due to the buter content–it needs to be as cold as you can get it to roll it out to size. Handle with care on this one–take your time and be ready for a little frustration along the way.

  42. @Elizabeth- sorry you had such trouble with the cake. It does come from the California Culinary Acadamy and is designed for the more advanced baker. I did not have the issue of seizing up in any of the times I have made it so that’s why there is no warning. And yes, take your time…hence the name of the title If You Have A Couple Hours To Kill.

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