X-Factor: Malva Pudding Cake at SQIRL (#7)

It’s simply malva-lous

For our May issue (on newsstands now!), we rallied our appetites to come up with our list of “The 75 Best Restaurants in L.A.” What were those extra little something’s that helped each spot rise above the rest? Here we showcase the X-Factors.

The toughest part about eating at SQIRL is deciding what you want. There always seems to be a bit of a line there now that word’s gotten out about the food, but it’s for the best since it’s often impossible to decide how to order just one or two items when everything on the blackboard menu sounds so damn satisfying. (“Sunchoke hash special with cheddar, potato, scallions, and fried egg? Or do I get the burnt brioche toast with housemade ricotta and jam like I always do?”) But really, there’s no wrong way to order there, unless you fail to leave room for dessert.

A favorite guilty pleasure is the malva pudding cake, a small collection of which sits in handsome paper wrappers next to the register, smugly tempting and taunting customers that are already struggling to not order one of everything. Each cake is made with a mix of flour, sugar, eggs, cream, butter, apricot jam, and a splash of vinegar; once it comes out of the oven, a mixture of cream, butter, sugar, and water gets poured over each one, absorbing into it as it cools, leaving a wonderfully spongy and slightly sticky treat.

SQIRL chef/owner Jessica Koslow, known for her preserves, was looking for desserts that featured jams when opening her restaurant; a friend who’d lived in South Africa recommended malva pudding, a traditional Cape Town sweet that was introduced by the Dutch when they colonized the area. Jessica’s version uses her own apricot jam, made from dry-farmed Blenheim apricots that she gets from Forcefield Farm in Santa Paula, which could help explain why it’s become one of SQIRL’s most popular dishes.

They’ll ask if you want it warmed up. You do. And if you’re at all a coffee person, do yourself a(nother) favor and enjoy it alongside a hot shot of freshly pulled espresso.

To see the full list of the 75 Best Restaurants in L.A., pick up a copy of our May issue (on newsstands) or subscribe now!