Before my husband and I moved back to Pennsylvania, I worked at an advertising agency in New York City as part of the IBM account team. When someone asks me if I miss NYC, my immediate answer is "No!" but that is followed by, "I don't miss the city, but I do miss the people." So when my old coworkers emailed me with some drool-worthy recipes generated by IBM's Chef Watson, I just had to try my hand at a few.
What is Chef Watson you might ask? It’s a cognitive computing system that helps cooks discover and create original, totally unique recipes with the help of flavor compound algorithms. Flavor compound algo-whats? I won't go too deep into the details, but check out this Bon Appétit article if you're feeling curious and techie.
This holiday season, Ogilvy & IBM are putting Chef Watson to work generating unique holiday recipes. The great thing about recipes generated by Chef Watson is that they feature unique combinations of flavors and ingredients that people might not otherwise consider putting together. How does Coffee Banana Pound Cake made with cinnamon and cornmeal sound? Or Pecan-Cardamom Macaroons dipped in chocolate?
I tried both of these recipes this weekend and they were a huge hit with my taste testers (both in NYC and Happy Valley).
See below for both recipes -- and visit www.tastyholidaydata.com for more Chef Watson recipes -- and if you give any a try, be sure to tag your pics on Instagram using #TastyData!
Coffee Banana Pound Cake
Makes: 1 loaf, ~10 slices
1 cup yellow cornmeal (I used white cornmeal since that's what I had on hand)
4 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sweet cream butter (2 sticks, softened)
5 oz palm sugar (I couldn't find palm sugar so I subbed an extra 1/4 cup dark brown sugar + 2 Tbsp molasses)
1 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown)
1 Tbl + 2 tsp instant coffee powder, divided
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts, divided
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 1/2 cups unsifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan with butter, then dust the pan with cornmeal, tapping out the excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Separately, in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla.
In a large bowl, beat together softened butter, palm sugar (or brown sugar + molasses), brown sugar, and 1 Tbsp instant coffee. Beat for 2-3 minutes with an electric mixer, then with mixer running, gradually add in the egg/vanilla mixture.
TIP: If you forget to set your butter out to soften, microwave it for 30 seconds at 30% power. Poke it to make sure it isn't melting in the middle, then microwave more (at 30% power) as needed. Mine took 60 seconds total.
Add the cornmeal mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and beat for 30 seconds on medium speed. Add in 3/4 cup walnuts and the mashed banana, beating until just incorporated.
Transfer batter to loaf pan, then bake for about an hour. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Cool in the pan on a metal rack for about 5 minutes.
Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert the pan onto a plate. Turn the cake right side up and cool on a metal rack.
While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Mix powdered sugar, milk, and 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the sides. Top with reserved walnuts.
TIP: Do yourself a favor and put a plate or a sheet of waxed paper under the rack to catch the extra glaze. I drizzled half of the glaze while the cake was still warm, then drizzled the rest over the top once it had completely cooled.
Once cooled, wrap and store at room temperature.
Servings: Makes ~ 4-5 dozen cookies depending on size - or 3 dozen + one giant IBM macaroon :)
8 egg whites
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 cups long-shred unsweetened coconut, toasted (I used unsweetened/flaked coconut)
3/4 cup pecans, toasted, cooled and ground
12 oz chopped chocolate (I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Preheat oven to 275°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
To toast your coconut, heat a skillet over medium heat and add coconut stirring constantly until it is fragrant and lightly browned. I used unsweetened coconut since that's what the recipe called for. That said, I think you could easily use the more readily available (and much cheaper) sweetened coconut with great results. If you do use sweetened coconut, you may want to reduce the sugar in the recipe.
You will also need to toast and crush the pecans. You can use the same method as noted above for toasting the coconut (pan, medium heat, stirring constantly). Once you can start to smell the pecans, they are probably toasty enough. If you want to dirty your food processor, you can use it to grind up the pecans. If you're lazy and would rather not have one more dish to wash, like me, use the good old zip-lock bag / beer mug method.
Place egg whites and cardamom in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer (whisk attachment works best), beat eggs until they form soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
Fold in the cooled toasted coconut and pecans, then drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls (more or less depending on how big you want them) onto prepared sheets, spacing mounds about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. The macaroons will look dry on the outside but will still be kind of soft and "marshmallow-y" on the inside.
Allow the macaroons to cool completely on the cookie sheets, then transfer them to your work surface. Line the pans with parchment or waxed paper and prepare to dip!
Pour chocolate chips into microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in-between each, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Be careful not to overcook! If you use a glass bowl, it will retain some heat and continue to melt any lingering chocolate bits as you stir.
Dip bottom of each macaroon into the melted chocolate, placing them on lined cookie sheets chocolate-side down. You can drizzle any leftover chocolate over the tops of the macaroons.
TIP: To drizzle the chocolate, put a zip lock bag in a cup and fold the top of the bag over the side of the cup. Pour the chocolate in, twist the bag, and cut off a very tiny corner. Squeezing lightly, drizzle chocolate quickly back and forth over the cookies.
Chill about 1 hour. Cover and keep refrigerated.
Let macaroons stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.