06 October 2017

Southern Shine

Desserts can be very divisive. You either love them or you hate them. Some people love chocolate, but only chocolate, while others would prefer anything other than chocolate in their desserts. I’m a little more temperate when it comes to my dessert tastes, but if I find something I love (I’m winking at you Citrus Swirl), I am  prepared to argue my dessert’s merits to no end. It’s with that thought in mind that we’re going to have a cake throwdown today. For today’s match up, we’re off to Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ to sample a pair of desserts. Each of the cakes we’re trying today has garnered their own fair share of die-hard fans in their short time at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs, but there can be only one best bite.

We’ll start out with the Shine Cake. As you can tell from the name, it does have some alcohol in its preparation. The cake is described as a butter cake, soaked with moonshine syrup. This isn’t your mother’s pound cake. The buttery Bundt cake is light and sweet, especially the moonshine syrup drizzled over the top of it. Let’s speak to the moonshine for a moment. The syrup actually utilizes golden rum, while the moonshine itself is incorporated into the batter of the cake. Neither has a heavy presence, but instead highlight the richness of the cake. Back to the cake itself, one could be forgiven for detecting citrus flavors in the cake, even though there is no form of citrus in the cake.

Our other contestant is the Hummingbird Cake. Taking a page from every southern cookbook I’ve ever seen, but also turning it on its head, the Hummingbird Cake features a pineapple-banana cake with crushed pecans and cream cheese frosting. Speaking as someone who was known to eat cream cheese frosting from the tub as a teenager, this is some truly wonderful frosting. This cake also has a well-established pedigree as Chef Art Smith has made it for birthdays of both Maya Angelou and Lady Gaga. The frosting is the sweet part of this cake, with the actual body of the cake being dense and filled with complex flavors. The pecans, which are finely crushed, don’t add a textural element like you would think, but they add some nutty, milky flavors to the more prevalent banana and pineapple flavors. Think of this as banana nut bread amped up to 11.

Both the Hummingbird and Shine cakes come with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. While it’s nothing fancy, it is done well, and offers a nice cool treat in the Florida heat.

So, which one is the winner? I don’t believe you could go wrong with either. However, for my tastes, it is the Shine Cake. While it’s only for adults due to the moonshine and rum, it has a lightness to it that seems to be hard to find in cakes these days. It’s sweet, but not overly so, and goes down easy. The Hummingbird Cake is so dense that I feel like it is almost a meal unto itself. Go ahead and give them both a try, you’ll be glad you did.

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