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$3,000 Grand Prizewinner

Jamie Parchman | Magic Valley EC

Three layers of tender cake (studded with toasted pecans), a gooey, pecan pie-like filling, and cinnamon-scented whipped cream frosting create an impressive dessert worthy of any special occasion. “This cake has several steps,” admits Parchman, “but it’s so easy to prepare and never fails to get ooohs and ahhhs.”

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups Texas pecan pieces
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
5 egg whites
¼ cup dark corn syrup

2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. FILLING: Whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, egg yolks, heavy cream and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to boil and cook until it begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool completely. Transfer the filling to a storage container. Press plastic wrap over top (to prevent skin from forming) and chill overnight.

2. CAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans with butter, shortening or nonstick spray. Place pecan pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 4–5 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned, then set aside to cool. Divide the pecans evenly among the cake pans, shaking to distribute evenly over the bottoms.

3. In a large bowl or using an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth, and then beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda. Alternating with sour cream, stir the dry ingredients into butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.

5. In medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold egg whites into batter, then divide the batter among the prepared pans.

6. Bake 20–25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Cool in pans on a rack 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the rack. Brush the warm cakes with the dark corn syrup, and then cool completely.

7. To assemble, spread 1/2 of the pecan pie filling on one cake, pecan-side up. Place the second round on top of filling, pecan-side up. Spread the remaining filling over the second cake, and then top with the third round, pecan-side up. Refrigerate the cake at least 4 hours, or overnight, before frosting.

8. FROSTING: Whip the heavy cream, sugar and cinnamon until stiff peaks form (do not over-whip). Frost the cake and then refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. You can frost the cake up to 6 hours in advance.

Makes 12-15 servings.

Cook’s Tip

For the best presentation, assemble the cake layers and filling a day in advance; this will allow the layers to meld and make the cake easier to slice. You can frost the cake the following day, and then refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.