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TCP Kitchen

2012 Holiday Recipe Contest

Sponsored by the Texas Pecan Board

After weeks of baking and frying, testing and tasting and several rounds of voting, the results are in for Texas Co-op Power’s 2012 Holiday Recipe Contest, sponsored by the Texas Pecan Board.

$2,000 Grand Prizewinner

Rita Lutz, Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Rita Lutz’s beautiful, rich Texas Pecan Butterscotch Cake rose above the rest of the 500-plus recipes we received to claim the grand prize. Lutz, a retired buyer/manager for J.C. Penney and a grandmother of eight, lives in Horseshoe Bay, about 50 miles west of Austin, with her husband, Donald.

Rita enjoys baking and tried several versions of the cake before hitting on this one, which was given a thumbs-up by a grandson. “My husband can tell you; he gets tired of trying them,” she said with a laugh. “I made it a couple of times for him and one for my grandson Robert. He says it’s his favorite cake.”

Be sure to check out all the winners in the Also in This Issue box at right.

Texas Pecan Butterscotch Cake

1 cup softened unsalted butter, divided, plus more for preparing pans
2 cups coarsely chopped Texas pecans, divided
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cups packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons butterscotch schnapps (substitute caramel extract or vanilla extract, optional), divided
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups butterscotch chips
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter three 8-inch round, 2-inch high metal cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper rounds. Butter paper and lightly flour rims.
  • Pour pecans onto a cookie sheet and toast 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool. 
  • Meanwhile, put coconut flakes on a cookie sheet and toast for 5 to 8 minutes until lightly browned, stirring once halfway through. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • In a 5- to 6-quart mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and coconut oil and beat with an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and beat on medium speed about 5 minutes.
  • Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine buttermilk, ricotta, vanilla and 1 teaspoon schnapps or extract substitute. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beating well after each addition.
  • Stir in 1 cup of the pecans and the coconut until just combined.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, whip the 5 egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form (about 2 minutes). Do not overbeat. Fold into pecan batter.
  • Divide batter equally among the prepared cake pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Set pans on a wire rack to cool about 10 minutes. Run a butter knife along edge of pans to loosen and turn cakes out onto rack. Carefully peel off the paper liners and leave cake rounds on racks to cool completely.
  • When cooled, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. This makes it easier to put the first layer of frosting on the cake.
  • As cakes are cooling, make the frosting. First, bring the whipping cream to a simmer over medium heat in a 1-quart saucepan. Remove from heat, add butterscotch chips and whisk until smooth. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 1 teaspoon schnapps or extract substitute. Set aside to cool.
  • In a 5- to 6-quart mixing bowl, beat remaining 1/2 cup butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low and gradually add powdered sugar and salt, alternating with cooled butterscotch mixture. Beat until smooth.
  • Place one cake layer, flat side up, on a serving plate. Cover the top evenly with frosting. Sprinkle top with 1/4 cup pecans. Top with second cake layer. Cover the top with an equal layer of frosting, topping with another 1/4 cup of pecans.
  • Set third cake layer atop the other two and spread a thin crumb coat of frosting over sides and top of cake.
  • Put cake in refrigerator, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to allow the icing to set. Cover the remainder of the frosting and allow to sit at room temperature.
  • When cake is chilled, finish frosting the top and sides of the cake. Use any leftover frosting to decorate the cake. Sprinkle remaining pecans over the top.

Servings: 24. Serving size: 1 slice. Per serving: 605 calories, 5.2 g protein, 28.7 g fat, 80.3 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g dietary fiber, 339 mg sodium, 69.1 g sugars, 79 mg cholesterol

Rita Lutz, Pedernales Electric Cooperative