The homeliest dessert

I was relieved that Sunday night's dinner party didn't take place.

I wasn't happy about the reason why — O was sick in bed — but I was more than a little horrified with the looks of dessert. Amanda Hesser warns of "a slight appearance problem" in the descriptive blurb that accompanies the Huguenot Torte recipe in The Essential New York Times Cookbook, but I wasn't prepared for the forlorn, homely mess that emerged from the oven. The edges were crusty, the top cracked and brown, the center gooey.

The upside: it's mighty tasty, filled with apples and pecans, best served with a large dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

This is the type of recipe you'll want to have on hand for a quick-and-easy family meal. It's almost too sweet for my taste, but when O pulled himself from bed later that night and wandered into the kitchen, he found a serving spoon, dove in, and declared it outstanding. Then he ate three servings.

I used the ubiquitous Granny Smith apple in this torte, but another tart cooking apple (like the Rome Beauty) would work well. I also toasted pecan halves on a sheet tray in the oven for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit before adding them to the batter to enhance their flavor. A side note: the recipe claims it serves 6-8, but I would say those are very small servings.

Huguenot Torte
(Apple and Pecan Torte)
Serves 6
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

2 large eggs
1/2 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup peeled, cored, and diced tart cooking apple (I used 1 large Granny Smith)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peak (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9 x 9 -inch or 8 x 12-inch baking pan that's at least 2 inches deep and set aside.

Beat the eggs and salt in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating steadily.

Fold in the apples and pecans with a spatula. Add the vanilla, flour, and baking powder. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, until sunken and crusty. Serve warm or chilled, with whipped cream.

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