German Lebkuchen Cake With White Chocolate Frosting
- HONEY SYRUP:
- 2 large oranges - (to 3)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2/3 cup orange juice
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter - (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature
- 3/4 cup golden brown sugar - (firmly packed)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2/3 cup half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2/3 cup dried currants
- 12 ounces imported white chocolate chopped (such as Lindt)
- 1 cup unsalted butter - (2 sticks) room temperature
- 12 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 3 cups toasted sliced almonds
- Orange slices or orange peel ribbon
For Syrup: Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (orange part only) from oranges in strips. Mince enough peel to measure 4 tablespoons. Mix honey, orange juice and 2 tablespoons orange peel (reserve remaining 2 tablespoons peel for cake) in heavy medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Set honey syrup aside.
For Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch square baking pan with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom with waxed paper. Butter paper. Dust pan with flour.
Using electric mixer, beat first 8 ingredients in large bowl until fluffy. Mix in reserved 2 tablespoons minced orange peel. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder into medium bowl. Mix half-and-half and lemon juice in small bowl. Beat dry ingredients alternately with half-and-half mixture into butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix in currants.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. (Cake will not rise to top of pan.) Cool cake 20 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen. Turn cake out onto rack; cool. Peel off paper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover syrup and cake separately and let stand at room temperature.)
For Frosting: Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Cool to barely luke warm. Using electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until light. Add chocolate and 1/4 cup honey syrup and beat until smooth and light. Chill until thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
Cut cake horizontally in half. Place bottom layer cut-side up on platter. Brush with 1/4 cup honey syrup. Spread 1 1/4 cups frosting over. Brush remaining 1/4 cup syrup over cut side of top cake layer. Place cake cut-side down atop filled layer. Set aside 2/3 cup frosting for garnish. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Press almonds around sides. Spoon remaining 2/3 cup frosting into pastry bag fitted with small star tip. Pipe frosting decoratively around top edge of cake.
Chill cake until frosting sets, about 1 hour. Garnish with orange slices. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving.)
This recipe yields 12 servings.