Life has been extraordinarily hectic as of late. I feel like (actually, I know) I spend more time on airplanes, in the car, or in the office these days than at home or in the kitchen or behind the camera. But I'm busy with things I love, so I don't mind that most of the time, I feel like I've been treading water nonstop in an attempt to keep from drowning in the deep end of the pool. As long as my nose stays above the water, I'm good. And it helps that I like the water. (I'm a water Zodiac sign, after all. :))
Then, there are these rare, glistening moments of calm in between. Extraordinarily rare, but they're like such a gulp of fresh air when they happen, as if someone has temporarily thrown me a flotation ring to hang onto. Like this one rainy Sunday a few weeks ago, when I was at a friend's house for lunch. You know what happens when you get three friends together who have a love a desserts? Impromptu dessert bar. For lunch. Cause that's just how we roll.
I brought a passionfruit and adzuki red bean Chinese New Year's Cake (gluten-free, pictured above, recipe below), and some poached, vanilla-scented, late season quince that were cooked to just a touch of pink. My friend, Rob (of dessert tour fame), showed up with a bagful of goodies from Tartine Bakery: banana creme pie, lemon-poppyseed almond cake (my personal favorite), chocolate hazelnut tart, and meringues. And my friend who was hosting the lunch busted out these beautifully wrapped gold-bar nuggets of hazelnut chocolates that she was recently sent from Switzerland (because, you know, it pays to have foodie friends in foreign places). Yes, I know, it's excessive to have a dessert bar so extravagant for a lunch that consisted of only four people total, but hey, you know what they say: work hard,
Recipe for the passionfruit & red bean cake follows. It's my modern spin on my mom's old family recipe for baked New Year's Cake that is one of my favorite things she makes. It's satisfyingly mochi-chewy, and the pop of passionfruit brightens the whole cake like bursting, exotic streak of sunshine. (Oh goodness, excuse the cliches, I don't get much sleep these days!)
Read on for recipe....
Passionfruit & Red Bean New Year's Cake
makes three 6-inch cakes or one 9 x 13" pan
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) vegetable oil
1 cup passionfruit puree
1/2 cup (115 g) whole milk
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 tspn baking powder
1 lb. sweet rice flour (e.g., Mochiko)
2 cups cooked and lightly sweetened adzuki red beans
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of the baking pans. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, vegetable oil, passionfruit puree, whole milk, and sugar. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, mix to combine the baking powder and rice flour.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the adzuki red beans.
5. Divide the batter amongst the baking pans (if using multiple). Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is gold brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out cleanly. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack before removing the cake from the pan.