Microwave Cake: Secret Recipe Club

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Sorry I have been a little MIA recently: real life stuff, go figure.  But I am back, and I am back to meet a need we all have: need for a quick cake fix.

Specifically, a quick cake fix with lots of frosting on top.

I often find myself with an intense yearning for something sweet and we need it in and around our mouths ASAP.  As I was browsing around Melissa’s food blog Melissa’s Cuisine for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I found my solution to this eternal conundrum: a cake you can make in the microwave in less than 5 minutes.

So I ran out to the store, bought cake mix (yum), and made myself a microwave cake.  Now sure, it’s not the same as a cake made from scratch and baked in the oven, but I tell you, my sweet tooth was quite satisfied.

MICROWAVE CAKE
Barely adapted from Melissa’s Cuisine

INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons angel food cake mix
6 tablespoons yellow cake mix
4 tablespoons water
Dash of vanilla extract
Sprinkles and frosting, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Mix together both cake mixes, water, and vanilla extra. Pour into two mugs. Microwave for 1 minute to 1 minute and 20 seconds (depends on the strength of your microwave). Garnish with sprinkles and frosting.

Makes 2 servings.
Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

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Happy Pi(e) Day!

Any holiday that mandates a celebration with lots of food, especially dessert, is an a-okay holiday in my books.  Thankfully most holidays here center, or at least feature, lots and lots of food.  And while celebrating math is not something I support quite as much, I’ll celebrate Pi Day if it means I get to eat some more dessert.

While Boston Cream Pie isn’t technically a pie, it has the word “pie” in the title, it’s a dessert, and it’s delicious- so I say it works for Pi day.  And what’s even better is putting Boston Cream Pie in individual-sized adorable cupcake form.  Make sure to have some type of pie today to celebrate!

BOSTON CREAM PIE CUPCAKES
Slightly Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

INGREDIENTS

For the Pastry Cream:
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes:
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, room temperature & in 12 pieces
3 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup milk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Icing:
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

For the Pastry Cream:

Place cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Whisk in cornstarch until pale yellow and thick.

Slowly whisk the heavy cream into the egg mixture to temper. Return to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, wrap tightly with plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Using a stand mixrer or hand mixer, beat butter into flour mixture one piece at a time. Beat until mixture forms moist crumbs, 1-3 minutes. Beat in eggs. Beat in milk and vanilla. Increase speed and mix until smooth, light, and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Pour batter into cupcake tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Use a pairing knife to cut a whole in each muffin, removing excess cake. Fill each cupcake with pastry cream and place cupcake top back on top.

For the Chocolate Frosting:

In a saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder, salt, and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter in melted. Whisk in powdered sugar. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes. Pour frosting on top of cupcakes. Let set for at least 30 minutes.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

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Last time I gave you a pink treat for Valentine’s Day, and now it’s time for a chocolate one.

A chocolate hazelnut dessert! Nutella lovers, get your forks ready.

But before we dive into this cake, let’s take a moment to talk about winter weather.  So I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I spent my childhood years wishing and hoping for some white powdery snow.  My birthday candles, those rope necklaces, and fallen eyelashes were all dedicated to my hopes for some snow.  One Christmas we got almost a 1/2 inch of snow, and it was pure magic.  It promptly melted the next morning, but it was a Christmas miracle.  I was convinced as a child that I must move north to get more snow in my life.

Childhood self: you are a fool.  Snow is not always so great.  First, it’s cold.  Second, it’s not good for an anxious person to drive in (I almost went head first into a telephone pole in our parking lot last week).  Third, people in academic buildings never keep the heat at the right temperature.  Fourth, although you still have to be at work, people stop showing up to stuff which leaves you even more bitter that you had to be there.

Yeah, so snow and I are not on the outs.  I might not be so bitter if I didn’t have to walk 15 minutes to get to work each morning.  God forbid graduate students who work for the university have access to sensible parking.

Before I go on another rant, let’s talk about this cake.  This cake can brighten anyone’s snowy, cold day.  This cake is rich but light tasting.  The Nutella frosting is made with light whipped cream and taste divine- I would each just a bowl of this if I could.  The roasted, salted hazelnuts on top add such a great crunch to the combo as well as a pretty way to hide the fact that you are a subpar cake decorator, and there is hidden chopped chocolate on the inside layer   In my version of this recipe I used one of my favorite chocolate cake bases- one that I find actually turns out most and doesn’t taste dry or overbaked.

Let them eat cake!

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CAKE
Adapted from Eat, Drink, & Be Merry via Tasty Kitchen

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup Frangelico
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 eggs, separate
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1 tablespoon cup all purpose flour

8 ounces Marscarpone cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup Nutella

To Assemble the Cake:
1 1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup chopped chocolate
Roasted, salted hazelnuts

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9 inch springform pan. Line pan with parchment paper and grease.

In a double broiler, melt chocolate and butter. Remove from stove and stir in Frangelica. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, separate eggs into two separate bowls (4 yolks in one bowl, 4 egg whites in another bowl). Divide sugar in half. Pour half of the sugar in with the egg yolks and whisk together. Whisk egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir in salt, cinnamon and flour.

With a hand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Continue to beat, adding remaining sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat until stiff but dry peaks do not form. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining meringue

*For my chocolate, I used a combination of semisweet and milk chocolate since sometimes semi-sweet chocolate is not sweet enough for me. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60-75 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool on a wire wrack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of springform pan and let cool.

For the Nutella Cream:

In a large bowl whip the marscarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy whipping cream together until peaks form. Fold in Nutella.

To Assemble the Cake:

Cut the cake into two equal layers. Place Nutella in the bowl and melt in the microwave until spreadable, about 30 seconds. Spread on the bottom cake layer. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle chopped chocolate on top. Spread a layer of Nutella cream on top. Place the top cake layer on top. Frost the cake with the remaining Nutella cream. Sprinkle hazelnuts on top.

Sachertorte

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Over the past few years I have definitely become a lot better in the kitchen.  I am better at following/creating recipes and food presentation.  My food used to look tired, run down, and listless, and I made a lot of mistakes (“Oops I forgot the [insert important ingredient that makes the entire recipe here].”, “Oops, did that say 1 1/2 minutes, I thought it said 15”).

While I am much improved, cakes are still really hard for me to decorate and have look pretty.  So when it comes to my birthday, I have great dreams and visions of a multi-layered cake with homemade frosting and lots of filling.  And while my birthday cakes usually taste awesome, their looks can sometimes leave something to be desired.

This year I made myself a Sachertorte, with a few twists.  A Sachertorte is an chocolate cake made famous by the Austrian Franz Sacher, who served this cake to Prince Wenzel von Metternich.  The more you know!

A traditional sacher torte is a fudge chocolate cake with brandy, topped with apricot preserves and a ganache.  I made my own twist by replacing the brandy with framboise and the apricot preserves with raspberry.  It was definitely delicious and made for a very happy birthday- even the birth of Jesus can’t eclipse my birthday cake this year!

Happy birthday to all the other December babies out there.

SACHERTORTE
Adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book via My Baking Heart

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup framboise
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 eggs, separate
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1 tablespoon cup all purpose flour

For the Filling:
1 cup raspberry preserves
1/3 cup coarsely chopped chocolate

For the Ganache:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate*
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon corn syrup

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9 inch springform pan. Line pan with parchment paper and grease.

In a double broiler, melt chocolate and butter. Remove from stove and stir in framboise. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, separate eggs into two separate bowls (4 yolks in one bowl, 4 egg whites in another bowl). Divide sugar in half. Pour half of the sugar in with the egg yolks and whisk together. Whisk egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir in salt, cinnamon and flour.

With a hand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Continue to beat, adding remaining sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat until stiff but dry peaks do not form. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining meringue

*For my chocolate, I used a combination of semisweet and milk chocolate since sometimes semi-sweet chocolate is not sweet enough for me. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60-75 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool on a wire wrack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of springform pan and let cool.

For the Filling:

Cut cake into 2 even layers. Spread raspberry preserves on the bottom layer. Sprinkle chopped chocolate on top. Top with top cake layer.

For the Ganache:

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Place heavy cream in a saucepan and scald (heat on medium heat until the side begin to bubble). Pour cream over chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Stir in salt and corn syrup.

Pour ganache over cake, gently spreading the ganache over the edges to cover the cake. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cutting.

Cupcake Pie Bars: Improv Challenge

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Oh my gahhh…

This dessert takes the cake- and the pie, and the bars.  Given that I have combined 3 types of desserts (bars, pie filling custard, and cupcakes), scientifically this dessert must be 3 time superior than all other normal desserts.

For this month’s Improv Challenge, we were given the task to make a dish with cake a frosting.  While I am perfectly happy with any cake or cupcake combo, I decided to try something a little bit different with these triple threat dessert.

First you have a graham cracker pie crust packed into bar form.  Good  Then you have a chess-pie butter filling.  Wonderful.  Then you pour the pie filling over cupcakes on top of your crust.  Magical.

All together, these three factors combine together to form a wonderful, sweet dessert.  All aboard the cupcake pie bar train.  First stop: sugar coma.

A fair warning: these babies are sweet.  I have a pretty high sweet tolerance, and my sugar craving was fully satisfied after one small bar (versus my typical 3-5).  The first time I made these, I (stupidly) forgot to add the eggs, which made them ultra sweet, but I have adapted the recipe a little bit to take out some of the sugar toothache-factor.

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CUPCAKE PIE BARS
Adapted from The Domestic Rebel

INGREDIENTS

For the Brown Sugar Crust:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into pieces

For the Cupcake Filling
18 mini cupcakes, sliced in half
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles, optional

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 baking pan with foil and grease.

In a food processor combine flour, salt, and brown sugar.  Pulse until combined.  Sprinkle cold butter cubes on top.  Pulse until pea sized crumbs form.  Press evenly into prepared baking pan.  Place sliced cupcakes in single layer on top.

In a large bowl combine butter, eggs, sugar, vinegar, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Pour over top of cupcakes.  Top with sprinkles, if desired.  Bake for 30-37 minutes.  Cool completely and cut into bars.  Store in refrigerator.

Thanks to Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting the challenge!  Make sure the check out what everyone else made!

Lemon Yogurt Cake

6-17 Lemon Yogurt Cake

Everyone brace yourself for a somewhat sappy post.  I am feeling nostalgic and missing home a little since it’s my first summer being officially and permanently off on my own.  Even though I am a mostly functional adult, I still miss home a little, especially at times like this around little holidays when I can’t make it back home.

It seems to be a common experience to have some family tension in our younger years, particularly during those wonderful years of our lives known as junior high and high school.  But as you get older, you get some clarity and insight with regards to your parents. My nonstalgic mood has led to a lot of contemplation recently (mixed in with watching Freaks and Geeks on Netflix so I am not a self enlightened guru yet, I can still learn from a 90’s high school TV drama), and I can now appreciate all the work my parents put into me.

And I turned out just wonderfully, no?

I use my parent’s life lessons often now- whether it’s during a night when I am having problems sleeping when I remember when dad would rub my back and tell me that even just laying in bed was okay if I couldn’t sleep or if I see a questionable dress at the store, I remember that mom taught me to both keep an open mind and to always try on clothes in the store. And I appreciate both of my parent’s support on my life path, which has been tumultuous slightly in the past but is finally straightening out.

So you have probably scrolled past all this personal rambling and want to know about this wonderful lemon cake.  I made this treat last year for father’s day since my dad loves lemon and I love Ina Garten.  And then my mom made this again unknowingly for my dad’s birthday this year- because great minds think alike.

This cake is tender and full of lemon flavor. Tri-fold lemon flavor in fact.  The cake is filled with lemon zest, soaked in a lemon syrup, and then topped with a lemon glaze. If you like but don’t love lemon, I would recommend just a plain powdered sugar glaze without lemon.  But if you are a lemon lover as I am, you will love the extra lemon kick.  And if your dad, mom, sister, or brother love lemon flavored treats, make them this cake and chow down together.

Also mom and dad, if you ever give me advice in the future that I am reluctant to hearing,  I will deny saying any of this ever.  What lemon cake? Hm?

LEMON YOGURT CAKE
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking power
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup granulate sugar

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons half and half, if needed

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan (8 to 9 inch long). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar and set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk yogurt, eggs, and vanilla together with lemon zest an sugar. Once incorporated, whisk in dry ingredients until just combined. Slowly fold in vegetable oil with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 48-52 minutes, or-until toothpick in center comes out clean.

For the Lemon Syrup:
While the cake bakes, combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved. When cake is done, cool on wire wrack for 10 minutes. Invert cake on a baking sheet and remove from loaf pan. Using a small wooden skewer, poke holes throughout the cake. Spoon a small amount of the lemon syrup over top, allowing to soak. Cool the cake completely.

For the Glaze:
In a small bowl whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice together. Whisk in half and half to thin out, if desired. Pour on top of cake. Slice and serve.

Texas Sheet Cake

Birthdays get so much more complicated as you get older.
It’s easy when you are still in the single digits: you get a fun party with pizza, cake, and ice cream.  The toughest decision to be made is whether to go roller skating or ice skating for your party (is this still what kids do for birthdays?).  Then as a teenager you are counting down the years until you can drive and until you are a legal adult.  Then you get to the big 21, which often involves a lot of parting, at least you assume so since you can’t remember exactly.
Then, after 21, it gets weird.
I have what I call the “birthday blues” often on my birthday.  On a day that used to be such a big deal when I was younger, I often don’t end up doing much of anything.  But then I am not even sure what it is that I want to do.  Plus, my birthday falls around Christmas, so it is often eclipsed by Santa and his holly jollyness.  If anyone knows how to fully enjoy a birthday as an adult, please do share.
You may be wondering why I am talking all about birthdays when I still got quite a bit of time until mine this year.  This cake is our family’s go-to birthday cake when we were younger.  When the jelly roll pan came out, we knew we were in for a huge treat.
This cake is amazing.  To call it just chocolate cake does not fully depict its greatness.  Chocolate cake in general is not always my favorite, but this cake makes me weak at the knees.  This icing is the best part: creamy and sweet.  Do yourself a favor when you make this cake: save yourself the corner piece where you get some crunchy icing edges- it is the best.
Also I forgot my age for the first time the other day.  What does that mean?

TEXAS SHEET CAKE

From My Mom

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake:
16 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Icing:
8 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 tablespoons milk
1 pound powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
DIRECTIONS
For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 15 1/2 by 10 inch jelly roll pan.  Cover pan in cocoa powder.
In a saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder, and water over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes.
In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract.  Beat together until well mixed.  Alternatively add flour and buttermilk in approximately 6 batches, beginning and ending with flour.  Stir in cooled cocoa mixture.  Pour into pan.  Bake for 20-28 minutes
For the Icing:
While the cake has about 5 minutes of baking time remaining, combine butter, cocoa powder, and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in pecans, if desired. Pour immediately over warm cake (it with stiffen very quickly).  Cool cake completely at room temperature.

Layered Spice Cake and Cheesecake

I have great contention with the traditional Easter dinner of ham- meaning that I refuse to eat it.  But there are so many great things that come along with Easter.  First, our school gets a three day weekend with no school on Monday, my longest/worst day of the week.  I will snooze all morning and enjoy not having to be on campus on that Monday. Second, Easter candy.  Cadbury eggs, Peeps, and Reeses eggs fill my dreams during the spring months.  I love candy and in full disclosure, I have already begun stocking up a stash in my closet for when Easter is over.

If you need an Easter dessert rather than wonderful seasonal candy, this cake would be a perfect way to wow everyone.  This decadent cake has alternating layers of spice cake and New York style cheese cake.  Then it is all topped with cream cheese frosting.  Cream cheese on cream cheese is a wonderful thing.

Everything in my kitchen seemed to come into place with this cake: my cheesecakes didn’t crack (I promise even though you can’t see the tops),there were no cream cheese frosting thickness problems like I have had before, and my cakes came out of the pans easily.  I am extremely proud of my successful layering of this cake, and I did a little kitchen dance of celebration when I cut the first piece.  I spent a good amount of time just admiring and gazing lovingly at the cake.  I assume this is exactly like parenthood, right?  But I had to eat my child, and it was delicious.

This cake does take some time investment, but it is not super challenging as far as layer cakes go.  I suggest making the cheesecake layers the night before and chilling to help develop flavor (this recipe is from the best New York cheesecake I’ve ever made).  If you want to make it even more Easter themed, make the spice cake layer a spice carrot cake.

Hope you all have a great Easter weekend!


LAYERED SPICE CAKE AND CHEESECAKE
Spice cake from Taste of Home & Cheesecake from Cook’s Illustrated
Frosting from Our Best Bites
INGREDIENTS

For the Cheesecake:

2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks and softened
10 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 egg yolks, room temperature
6 large eggs, room temperature

For the Sour Cream Spice Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons all spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
DIRECTIONS

For the Cheesecake:

Preheat oven to 500°F. Grease the sides 2 nine inch springform pans.

Transfer cream cheese to the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until pieces are broken up and cheesecake is slightly softened, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add granulated sugar and salt. Beat for 1-2 minutes. Scrape down bowl and add sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Beat until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape down bowl and add egg yolks, beating until combined, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down bowl and add eggs two at a time, beating after each addition until thoroughly combine, and scraping down bowl between additions.

Make sure your cheesecake mixture is thoroughly mixed by scraping down the bowl one last time. Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide cheesecake filling between 2 springform pans.  Bake for 10 minutes. Keeping the oven door closed, reduced temperature to 200°F. Bake for an additional 1 1/2- 1 3/4 hour, until cheesecake is golden brown on top and has an internal temperature of 150°F.

Cool cake on wire wrack for 5 minutes. Run a pairing knife around the border of the cheesecake to loosen cheesecake from pan. Cool at room temperature for 3 hours. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours.*

To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

For the Sour Cream Spice Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg yolks one at a time, fully incorporating the yolk before adding another.  Add vanilla extract and combine.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, all spice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.  Alternating between sour cream and dry ingredients, mix until just combined.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with hand mixer or whisk until stiff peaks just begin to form.  Carefully fold egg whites into batter.  Divide batter between two cake pans.  Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes.  Run knife along edge and invert cake pan on wire rack to remove cake from pan.  Let cool to room temperature.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
 
In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.  Beat until light and combined.  Gradually add in vanilla and powdered sugar, beating until combined.  Scrape down bowl and beat to ensure ingredients are fully incorporated.
 
For the Assembly:
 
Carefully removed cooled cheesecake and spice cake from pans.  Place a cheesecake layer on serving plate, top with spice cake, then second layer of cheesecake, and second layer of spice cake.  Frost cake with cream cheese frosting.  Garnish with pecans if desired.  Cut into slices to serve.  Store in refrigerator.


*Cheesecake will keep in fridge. Cheesecake flavor will keep developing the longer you chill, but after one day the crust will significantly soften.