Recipe: Georgia Peach Nirvana Cake praised as ‘awesome’, ‘delicious’
Fraser Valley, Colorado
Many of you are familiar with The Sweet Potato Queen’s books, Web site, Saint Patrick’s Day parade and general frivolity. If you laughed your way through these irreverent, bawdy books, you may have enjoyed reading the recipes. I gained about 5 lbs. just reading the recipes since they, like their author, are full of sugar, and bad to the bone.
I’ll admit I never even thought about making any of the dishes because of the over-the-top call for butter, bacon, sugar, whipping cream and chocolate. But I’m here to tell you that you should try a bite of one if it appears.
I had just such an opportunity at work, of all places. One of us had a birthday and another one of us baked a cake. This cake was universally praised as “awesome,” “killer” and “delicious.” The recipe was adapted from Jill Conner Browne’s, (the original Sweet Potato Queen) “Sweet Potato Queen’s Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide.”
Jill Jacobsen, my coworker, adapted the cake by omitting maraschino cherries and replacing them with pecan halves and also by adding both Grand Marnier and peach schnapps to the cake after it was baked. Yum! She made these alterations to tailor it to the birthday girl, who hails from Georgia, which is known for its peaches and pecans.
Jill is a “Jill of all Trades.” A bit of this and that, all done in superlative manner. She is a heavy equipment operator, a baker, an herbalist and a carpenter. You name it, she can probably master it. She once lived for several years (including winters) in a teepee – here in Grand County.
After growing up in a very respectable home in Rochester, Minn., Jill attained an appropriate B.S. in natural resources as a recreation resource management major. But, she said, “I majored in beer.” This degree was from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Jill acquired certification in Western Herbalism from the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies in Boulder, naturally. With this knowledge, she led nature walks here in the Fraser Valley and taught her students to identify and recognize the uses of native plants. This was supplemented by generous doses of Native American medicinal lore. Her instructors at the Center in Boulder studied with Lakota Indians.
Before that – long, long ago, she worked in two national parks (Mt. Rainier and Rocky Mountain National Park), two national forests (Roosevelt and Grand Mesa Uncompahgre/Gunnison) and in a nursing home as a recreation coordinator. She enjoyed making the old people do fun stuff like play cards, go fishing, and drink just the right amount of beer.
You should beware – Jill has the ability to put a spell on you in more ways than one – perhaps with herbs, perhaps with a potion in a cake. Either way, go willingly if she shows up with one of her now famous cakes. Why does she cook? Because it’s fun, as she said, “Every once in a while a recipe just jumps off the page and I have to try it. Like this one, it seemed borderline good for you with the peaches and the schnapps!”
Or, when your next office birthday party comes up I heartily recommend making this cake for the honoree. (Omit the booze, as Jill did, for the office cake.)
There is the one bad thing about the cake – its name – Gramma’s Fuzzy Navel Cake. I hate it, so I’m changing it. I get that it comes from the cocktail of the same name, but I can’t tout as delectable any food with the word “fuzzy” in its name!
The other word, “navel,” is OK when associated with oranges, but not with cake or with Gramma for that matter! I have now officially renamed it the Georgia Peach Nirvana Cake.
Jill has a friend who is a lift mechanic and a helluva cook, who always likes to introduce his friends to his Gramma…as in Grand Marnier. This recipe didn’t originally call for Gramma Nyeh, but the second time she made the recipe, Jill decided a bit of orange liquor wouldn’t hurt a thing. She was right. It was just the right touch to put you into the state we all wish to attain – Nirvana.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 29-oz. can peach slices, drained
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 yellow cake mix (pref. w/pudding in mix)
1 3-1/2 oz. pkg. vanilla instant pudding (use only if cake mix is w/out pudding)
3/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbs. orange peel (zest)
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup peach Schnapps
1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
2 Tbs. melted butter
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbs. powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar in the bottom of the pan. Arrange peach slices on top and put a pecan half between the peach slices. Combine cake mix with oil, orange juice, zest, pudding mix (unless already in cake mix), eggs and 2 Tbs. Schnapps. Mix at medium-high speed for a few minutes; pour over brown sugar and peaches in Bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes to one hour. Cool for 15 minutes, remove from pan and poke deep holes in cake using a skewer or a chopstick.)
Mix butter, 2 Tbs. peach Schnapps, 2 Tbs. Grand Marnier and cinnamon. Pour over the now holey cake while still warm.
Beat 1 cup heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Add remaining 2 Tbs. Grand Marnier. Continue beating until slightly stiffer peaks form.
To serve put a slice of warm cake on a dessert plate, top off with a dollop of sweetened whipping cream and prepare to be transported to nirvana.
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