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To me, January means a time for new beginnings, a time to start fresh and new. Not only is it the beginning of the New Year, but also a new chapter in my life as my birthday is in January. It's that special time of the year when you're winding down from Christmas and waiting for spring. Winter has moved into the long stretch and it starts to get old. I like to take that time and reflect on the past year and see what I can do to improve the next one. One of the things I've always looked forward to the most was my great grandmother's Hickory Nut Cake with Fluffy White Frosting.
For the cake, you take an ordinary white cake mix and follow the instructions for making it. Once you have the batter all mixed up, add about a half-cup to a cup of shelled hickory nuts. Make sure you get all of the pieces of shells out or you'll get a nasty surprise when you bite into the cake! Save some whole pieces of hickory nuts to garnish with later. You can bake the cake in 2 round pans for a layer cake -- which I like best for this recipe -- or you can make a sheet cake. Once the cake is cool to the touch, you can frost it.
The best frosting for a Hickory Nut Cake is the ooey gooey, ever so sweet, melt in your mouth Fluffy White Frosting. It's made using white corn syrup, egg whites, salt, and vanilla beaten together. This frosting is sticky, so be prepared to wash your bowl right away. It's also a good idea to have a wet washcloth or towel handy because this stuff sticks like glue once it dries!
Heat the corn syrup to boiling in a small saucepan. Combine the unbeaten egg whites, salt, and vanilla in a metal bowl. Beat the mixture at a high speed with an electric mixer until the egg whites are stiff, but not dry. Slowly pour the boiling syrup into mixture, continuing to beat until the frosting is fluffy and hangs in peaks from the beaters. Spread the frosting between the layers of the cake and then over the top and sides evenly. Garnish as desired.
Yields: enough frosting for one cake
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Once you have your cake frosted, garnish it by placing the whole pieces of hickory nuts evenly around the sides and top of the cake. You can also sprinkle some chocolate powder over the frosting and nuts, but I think it's rich enough already. Sometimes, if we had a little bit of the chopped nuts leftover, we would sprinkle those around on top of the cake also.
This cake is a hit at birthdays, Christmas parties or other festive occasions. But make sure to have lots of napkins handy because it is sticky! If you are going to serve it at a children's party, I suggest wet paper towels be given to everyone after the cake is served. The sticky stuff is the best part though!