Syrian Walnut-Semolina Cake With Figs and Chocolate

This crumbly cake is Hanna’s riff on a baklava-like Syrian pastry made with semolina, honey and walnuts. The sweet dried figs, common in Middle Eastern cooking, are a natural addition, but the less traditional chocolate chips really make the cake stand out. Hanna tops the cake with homemade cardamom ice cream, but good vanilla ice cream would be delicious, too.
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 1/2 cups walnut halves (6 ounces)
1 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried black Mission figs, finely chopped
1/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with wax paper and butter the paper. Flour the pan, tapping out the excess.

Spread the walnut halves in a pie plate and toast them in the oven for 9 minutes, until fragrant. Let them cool completely.

In a food processor, process the walnuts with the semolina flour until finely ground. Add the baking powder and salt and process until incorporated.

In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the honey and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the vanilla extract. At low speed, beat in the semolina flour mixture. Add the chopped figs and chocolate chips and beat at low speed until evenly distributed or fold them in with a spoon.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Peel off the wax paper and invert the cake onto a large serving plate. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with the vanilla ice cream.

The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days...

The deep rich Chocolate flavor pairs well with our Bismark Zinfandel.  Our Bismark Zinfandel is a hearty Zin that showcases heady aromas of spicy boysenberry, raspberry and mocha. This wine is bright medium ruby in color and has a polished, supple mouth feel with big but fine tannins and a creamy balanced finish. Aged in new American, then new French oak barrels for 26 months total.

The Winemaker Cooks
The Winemaker Cooks by Christine Hanna
Chronicle Books

Chris embodies the Sonoma Lifestyle, as she is a gourmet cook, cookbook author, wine enthusiast, gardener and entertainer.  When asked about her life in Sonoma, Chris says, "When we craft our wines and prepare our meals with locally grown ingredients it makes for a memorable experience. And it is not about impressing people, it's quite the opposite, it's about making them feel comfortable."

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