When You Cannot Get Your Favorite Desserts Down The Shore, You Make Your Own Version
My family ventures down to Ocean City, New Jersey every single year, rain or shine. It is my favorite tradition for many reasons - the beaches are very pleasant, the boardwalk and its activities are amazing, and the snacks are fantastic. Having gone for 27 consecutive years, Ocean City has become a part of me, and I do not feel complete if I don't get to experience the key features (the food) of this trip on an annual basis. Of course, I would love to get everything in, but the weather and time of year is not always in our favor - I realized that being physically there is more important than anything, especially because it is really hard to eat the same exact treats elsewhere. These are my priorities, and they truly are well-thought-out.
We used to go at the end of August/beginning of September, right before the school year started, which happens to fall near my dad's birthday - he also has some favorite sweet delicacies that he looks forward to every year. Unfortunately, we have not made it to the beach yet this year (don't worry, we will before the new year - it is not our first time dealing with scheduling issues!), so we have not had our fix of curly fries, fudge, Dippin' Dots, ice cream, or baked goods. Knowing that he probably misses them as much as me, I decided to make an Ocean City-inspired birthday cake to honor our love for this place while celebrating his special day. Out of all the desserts, my dad's top choices are the Orange Creamsicle from Kohr Brother's and the Crumb Cake from Mallon's, so I did my best to combine them into one memorable reflection of their tantalizing, undeniable goodness.
As seen above, what I ended up with definitely does not look like ice cream, but it does look like a crumb cake! However, it embodies the essence of the creamsicle with its orange and white chocolate flavor profile, only in the texture of a soft, moist, crumbly baked good. With a superb balance of citrus and sweetness, I would eat this for breakfast, a snack with coffee or tea, or dessert at lunch or dinner. It is not at all rich but certainly satisfying, and you could enjoy half of it in just a few minutes before realizing it is gone. My only change would be to add even more white chocolate - here, I just topped the cake with it, but I would actually recommend including some in the batter itself and/or glazing the whole cake in white chocolate so that the creamsicle idea comes through even more. But it is magnificent either way! And it is gluten-free too, so while this may be a healthier take on our classic Ocean City junk food guilty pleasures, it still filled us with the contentment we were yearning.
Below is the recipe (it is a little harder to go without measuring in regards to baking since you cannot adjust the end product as easily) for this very simple, versatile cake - I look forward to hearing how you made it your own!
Creamsicle Crumb Cake with Pistachio and White Chocolate
For the Cake
3 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup fresh orange juice, room temperature (can substitute lemon, lime, grapefruit, apple, grape, etc.)
2 tsp grated orange zest
2 T coconut oil, melted
4 T maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla, almond, or orange blossom extract
2 cups blanched almond flour
3 T coconut flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate/white chocolate chips
For the Crumb Topping
1/3 cup finely crushed pistachios, sifted of any pistachio dust (or any nut of choice)
1/4 cup finely crushed cashews, sifted of any cashew dust (or any nut of choice)
1 tsp honey
For the White Chocolate Glaze
1 cup chopped white chocolate/white chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a medium-sized baking dish (rectangle, square, circle) with parchment paper and grease with oil.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the juice, zest, oil, maple syrup, and extract.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, spices, and salt.
Add the dry mixture to the wet to form a batter, stirring with a spatula until all is incorporated.
Mix in the 1/2 cup of white chocolate.
Pour into the baking dish and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
While the Cake is in the Oven
Toast the nuts in a sauté pan on the stove over low heat until they release their aromas and get a touch of color. Let cool.
Combine the nuts with the honey, spices, and salt; season to taste. Set aside.
Melt the 1 cup of white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl until it is smooth.
When the Cake is Cool
Set it on a wire rack over a tray.
Pour the white chocolate over the cake and let it drip down on all sides evenly.
Cover the top of the cake with the crumb coating.
Let the cake sit until the chocolate sets.
Serve and enjoy!
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