This simple, sexy dessert is inspired by Toronto's Bar Isabel and the luscious cake they serve by the same name. Some authentic Basque cakes have a layer of cherry jam in between two layers of cake, but this one is just a cookie-like base scented with vanilla and topped with a decadent cream sauce. Watch the clock carefully – a few minutes can take this dessert from soft and moist to ordinary and dry.
Ready time: 40 minutes, plus chilling time
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, scraped
2 large eggs
1¼ to 11/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons amber sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup fresh raspberries
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat well. Add scrapings from inside vanilla bean, as well as 1 egg, and beat a few minutes longer. Sift together 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt and add to mixer gradually.
Add remaining flour bit by bit, just until a soft dough comes together. (You might have some unused flour.) Gather dough together, shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 40 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small saucepan, combine cream, sherry, sugar and salt over medium heat. Mix until sugar and salt are dissolved. Bring just up to a boil, then turn heat down to low and cook until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat.
Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to slightly larger than a greased 6½-inch springform or round tart pan. (Dough will be about 1½-inches thick.) Trim and fit into pan. Beat remaining egg with a fork and brush over cake’s surface. Bake on lower rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly brown at the edges but soft in the centre.
Rewarm sauce if necessary and strain to remove solids. Serve cake drizzled with warm sauce and garnished with raspberries.