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Rosemary Pound Cakes with Port-Soaked Dried Fruits

Fresh rosemary, with its woodsy character and resinous hints, gives these miniature pound cakes a decidedly savory edge. A hearty compote of spice-infused port and chunky dried fruits is full of concentrated flavors that perfectly match the bold taste of the cakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mixed dried fruits, such as cranberries, figs and apricots 
  • 8 juniper berries 
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns 
  • 1 cup port 
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks 
  • Nonstick cooking spray 
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter 
  • 4 small fresh rosemary sprigs  
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour 
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature 
  • 3 egg yolks, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract 

Directions:

Cut any large dried fruits into bite-size pieces. Enclose the juniper berries and peppercorns in a tea ball and place in a saucepan. Add the port, 2/3 cup of the sugar and the cinnamon sticks and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the dried fruits and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for at least 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Spray three 5 3/4-by-3 1/8-inch miniature loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Remove from the heat, add 3 of the rosemary sprigs, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve; discard the rosemary.

While the rosemary steeps, pluck the leaves from the remaining rosemary sprig and coarsely chop the leaves. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and chopped rosemary.

Using a stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the whole eggs, egg yolks and vanilla until combined. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar and beat until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 2 batches, mixing only until a few dry streaks remain. Raise the mixer speed to medium-low and drizzle in the rosemary-infused butter. Increase the speed to medium and beat until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pans, dividing it evenly.

Bake the cakes until domed, brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a wire rack, turn them right sides up and let cool completely.

To serve, slice the pound cakes and serve with the port-soaked dried fruits. Serves 8 or 9.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Desserts, by Raquel Pelzel (Oxmoor House, 2008).