Category: cakes

Cherry “surprise” coffee cake (the surprise is cream cheese!).

Indy, my baking buddy.

Indy and I are best buds. When Jay leaves for work at night, it’s just us. We watch TV, cook (okay, I cook), read, or cuddle in bed, sometimes blogging. He usually naps during those activities. However when I get up he follows me around relentlessly. Even waiting outside the bathroom for me. I call him my shadow. My 100-lb. shadow… & bodyguard.

Consequently, Indy is also my baking buddy.

He sits (quite adorably) on the rug in front of the sink as I mix & whisk & scoop. He leans his right side against the cabinets, hind legs off to the left side, his head turned & nose just barely reaching right over the counter, sniffing to see what exactly it is I’m doing today. I talk to him as I recite the recipes, or experiment with ingredients. Sometimes he looks up at me intently, as if he’s genuinely listening; or more so, actually absorbing what I’m saying. Other times he lays down on that rug ignoring me, but ever so close to me at the same time. Usually with a paw just touching my foot. And then once it’s in the oven he scoots forward to see. And again, as I move from room to room or from sink to dishwasher he follows me, tail wagging, possibly in hopes that whenever whatever it is I baked comes out of the oven, I have sympathy – or empathy- and ultimately give him a slice.

It hasn’t happened yet. But even as I take my photos, he tries. Respectfully.

Cherry surprise coffee cake; the surprise is a cream cheese filling floating throughout.

Always respectfully. He never pulls anything off the table or eats it without permission. He’s a true gentleman. And of course, aside from being a stellar example of canine restraint, he was well trained by his momma & poppa.

Cherry "surprise" coffee cake (the surprise? Cream cheese!)

I don’t blame him for trying. There’s a lot of good stuff coming out of my kitchen all the time! A man has to try, has to give it his best shot, even if he knows he’ll be shot down.

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Happy Anniversary & other sappiness.

Because you're mine, I walk the line.

Normally, I wouldn’t do this. Not only am I vehemently against public sappiness in all forms & usually abhor all kinds of cutesy shit, but I’m also one of those whacky people who believes anniversaries are personal; like marriages & births/adoptions. They include the parties directly involved, and really only matter to them, and so in my eyes should be personal. Personal meaning private. They’re gravely important things that have immense significance… but outsiders really shouldn’t have anything to do with it. So trust me- I’d normally never ever post something like this. However, today marks my TEN YEAR anniversary with Jay. Ten years! That’s longer than most marriages last, forget about non-married relationships. It’s longer than most TV shows are on the air. It’s basically one third of my life so far. And if we were celebrities, we’d be in the Hall of Fame.

So it’s kinda important. And I just wanna state that today is a big thing. To us. I get that it’s not a big thing to you, you see. But to us it’s a big deal. Like, a big deal involving cake.

A dusting of confectioner's sugar makes everything prettier! Even a zebra bundt cake, which is pretty already.

I first met Jay 13 years ago, when I was a mere 19 years old (and so was he). We were both pretty different people than we are now, in a lot of ways, but especially physically. Not only were we both much younger, but he was far skinnier in that still-a-teenager-way & I was slightly heavier, with longer- and blacker- hair. We did not hit it off right away. We officially “met” a few times before the first time we actually spoke, and the first time we spoke I wasn’t really impressed. It was at a friends party, and I wasn’t having the best time. He called me “white head” (I was wearing a white bandanna on my head… hey look, it was summertime, we were near the water & there was high humidity, & my hair which was in the process of growing out was not behaving) as I walked past and this did not sit well with me. I distinctly remember asking who the hell he was. And the thing that’s especially odd about all of this is that less than a week later, we had clicked so much we spoke every single night via AIM (some of you reading this will have no idea what that is, but at the time it was awesome). I wasn’t looking for anything. Jay just made me laugh & we had a really good rapport with one another, plus he & I were both part of a circle of folks who chatted with one another fairly frequently anyway.

Somewhere along the way, things changed. It’s not something to get into on a public forum; the how’s & why’s & all of that. It’s personal. Maybe it was when he told me he waited all day to come home and talk to me. Maybe it was the 4th of July. Maybe it was when he took me to dinner for my birthday. Maybe it was just the summer. But something definitely changed from friend to more than friend… however, ultimately we parted ways. Over the course of a few years there were times when our “stars collided” and we met once again, and some other people got hurt in the process. But it wasn’t until three whole years after our initial meeting that we actually were in the same place at the same time, and it was the right place at the right time. I knew when I first met him that there was a reason for it, I just didn’t know exactly what it was. It was meant to be, though. People don’t continue to cross your path over & over again without a reason.

A beautiful zebra bundt cake recipe from Baker's Royale.

Ten years later, I cannot imagine the last ten years without him.

He’s up to my down.

Right to my left.

Peanut butter to my jelly.

Ham to my cheese.

Johnny to my June.

You get the idea.

Things with us are very simple. Uncomplicated. We’ve had two, maybe three arguments in 10 years. It’s not forced. We’re not clingy, we let one another do our own thing. We’re each others best friend. We’re supportive but not over the top. We don’t hide anything from each other. We’re honest. We work together, we’re in it together. We’re here because we both want to be, and I can’t speak for him but I have never once wanted out. People say relationships are hard work, but honestly, I can’t agree. For us it just flows. It just works. There’s never any drama or anything. It’s the easiest relationship I’ve ever had- friend or otherwise. And if you think that’s because “[we're] not married yet” or because we have no children; well, then you’ve got either a very poor marriage or a very poor concept of what a relationship is (or could be). Not to mention you must not think very highly of your kids.

So, since we’re not ones to be over-dramatic & crazy, this is our anniversary/engagement (yes, I said engagement!) cake. Equally simple yet wonderful. No drama. No fanfare. Just goodness.

(By the way.. I clearly do a terrible job at cutting cakes)

Zebra bundt cake- recipe from Baker's Royale. Perfect anniversary cake!Cake stand: vintage Fenton milk glass; cake recipe from Baker’s Royale- best zebra bundt cake EVER!

It’s like our relationship: low-key but awesome.

I wish that all of you could have or would have the love I have. Of all the things in life that really matter, that’s one of the most important, and it doesn’t matter who you love- whether it’s someone of the opposite sex, another man, another woman, more than one man or more than one woman or a variety. Relationships & love can’t be defined or restricted by anyone else’s ideals. It doesn’t matter if it’s family love, friend love or romantic love. It just matters that you love them, and they love you.

But for me for us, there’s more to celebrate this year than just those 10 happy years of being together…

Because this big ol’ hunk of over 1 full carat of diamonds, in the form of a stunning heirloom engagement ring (pictured here in the original ring box, both of which belonged to my grandmother), is sitting on my left ring finger as I type. Because when the man you love uses trickery & espionage (as well as gets your parents involved in that trickery) in order to get your beloved grandmother’s ring to propose to you with, and then asks you to marry him in one of your favorite places on earth… it’s real love. This ring has meant a lot to me for many reasons, and now it means even more.

I guess the ring-shaped cake above makes sense to you all now.

My grandmother's vintage 1940's engagement ring. Which is now mine!

So yup. Here I am, officially affianced. Not a bad way to celebrate our tenth year together, huh?

See… here’s my deal: the materialism of “weddings” nowadays is a turn off for me. Not because I’m against people making or spending money- quite the opposite, I love to do both. It’s a turn-off, mainly because people (mostly women) have forgotten the real meaning of why they’re getting married. It’s an excuse to soak a guy for a big rock, then show it off to other women with the secret, silent hope that they’re jealous, and then go & blow all of daddy’s money on ONE day that no one even remembers. It’s a reason to shop at Kleinfeld’s & maybe be on TLC. It’s a reason to show off.

And all of that has nothing to do with love or marriage. But that’s another post for another day!

He liked it so he put a ring on it (I know, I'm horrible).And my wedding band will be custom made using diamonds from my grandmother’s other ring.

My heirloom ring is not only gorgeous, but it has immense meaning. Not just because it’s my engagement ring, but because of it’s history (which is very interesting- it was stolen & recovered by the NYPD!) & because it was a gift from my grandpa to my nana. It has over 75 years of history & love in it… here’s to over 75 more.

*P.S. if you’d like to follow me on my anti-bridal journey (or you’re just nosy) feel free to take a peek at my Pinterest board. And in case you’re wondering, as far as love songs go, we really are more Johnny & June than Whitney or Mariah. And if you’re thinking of ‘Walk the Line’ … well, that isn’t the best Johnny Cash song to suit us; we’re more like this one.

Eating this True Blood cake did not suck.

This Sunday, June 16th, at 9 o’clock p.m. EST on HBO, season 6 of True Blood will premiere. I know all you “Trubies” are going bananas. As they say, “waiting sucks.” And I absolutely agree: it does totally suck to have to wait so long for a new season. But …while you all were waiting patiently (or not so) for the new season, I had this baby to keep me company. The True Blood cookbook! 

True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

It’s a delicious book- filled with beautiful photographs of scenes from the show and more. There are gorgeous shots of Gran’s kitchen & the outside of both her house & Bill’s house, as well as pictures of Merlotte’s and Fangtasia. The attention to detail is awesome; the picture of Gran’s kitchen makes you feel like you’re right there. Big, glossy, clear photos.

The food photography in and of itself is beautiful. Almost every recipe has an accompanying photo. And it’s not just food, or baked goods that are featured. There are cocktails & non-alcoholic drink recipes too…

An excerpt from True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

An excerpt from True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

A cake from the cookbook True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

So to celebrate the return of this beloved show, and all my favorite characters (Eric & Pam! Eric & Pam!)… I made me a True Blood Naked Cake. Also known (in the book) as “Totally Surprised Birthday Cake,” which is the stunning cake on the cover (and as seen above). My version of the cake is a “naked” cake; meaning it’s not fully frosted. The majority of the frosting is combined with the filling and put on top to create a naked effect.

A layer cake filled with lemon filling, vanilla frosting & a mixed berry topping inspired by and adapted from the True Blood cookbook.

In the book, the cake is fully frosted. But I wanted to make a naked cake for three reasons: one, I hate frosting cakes, two, it’s pretty. And three… ‘naked’ is kinda appropriate for True Blood. Lotsa people gettin’ all kinds of naked on that show!

A cake inspired by the cookbook True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps.

This cake is comprised of two cake layers, a lemon filling, a frosting similar to a 7-minute frosting or an Italian meringue buttercream and a rich berry topping; made of macerated raspberries & strawberries. It’s decadent, it’s drippy, it’s smooshy. It’s complex. It’s amazing. And you know what? I’m just gonna say it- it’s sexy. Kind of like the TV show itself. There’s so much going on you’re afraid you’ll miss something, but it all comes together perfectly.

I mean, come on. Look at this cake. It kinda makes you wanna do bad things.

A "naked" cake celebrating the return of True Blood season 6! Inspired by the True Blood cookbook, it's a two-layer vanilla cake filled with a lemon filling & vanilla frosting, then topped with more frosting & a mixed berry macerated topping.

Thick, creamy frosting.

Sunny, bright, slightly sticky lemon filling.

Moist & light vanilla cake.

And a bunch of juicy berries in sugar.

True Blood "naked" cake; vanilla cake filled with lemon filling, thick vanilla frosting & topped with a macerated raspberry & strawberry topping. From the True Blood cookbook!

Thick vanilla frosting, tart lemon filling & sweet macerated berries come together with vanilla cake to create this True Blood "Naked" cake; inspired by & taken from the True Blood cookbook!

Cake inspired by the True Blood cookbook!

Beautiful.

It’s the perfect cake to crack open a Tru Blood with, before you get down with some vampire action on those hot, humid summertime Sunday nights. And right about now you’re wondering where the recipe is. Well, I hate to do this to you… but…

If you want the recipe- you’re gonna have to buy the book!

 

I know, I know, I suck (pun intended!). You can buy True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And be sure to watch the True Blood season 6 premiere on HBO this Sunday night, June 16th, at 9 p.m.

A vanilla layer cake filled with a bright, tart lemon filling, a thick vanilla frosting & topped with macerated raspberries & strawberries. Inspired by & adapted from the True Blood cookbook!

Don’t forget the cake! And remember, friends don’t let friends eat friends.

 

True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

“Sittin’ down to eat with the people you love, or even just like, life don’t get any better than that. Least not here in Bon Temps.”

- Sookie Stackhouse

(Pssst… I received absolutely no compensation for this post. I purchased the book myself, and any & all opinions are my own. I do not claim ownership of the True Blood logo, name or television show, nor do I claim to have any rights to any recipes in the book or anything to do with Charlaine Harris’ book series. For other desserts & eats that are True Blood inspired or could be used in relation to True Blood, check out my True Blood velvet cupcakes, blood spatter cupcakes, and True Blood orange cupcakes. Enjoy responsibly & keep your fangs in.)

Fi, fie, fo, fum, I smell soda cake & Jameson.

Sometimes when I make Irish soda cake, I feel like I’m in the story Jack in the Beanstalk & I’m Jack, but everyone around me are the giants. It’s so amazing, and it smells so good, that people just go nuts for it. I think if I fell on the floor & was unconscious, they’d step over me to grab a piece. I’m serious. And I don’t really blame them. Don’t believe me? Check this out. Chrisie told me she loves my Irish soda cake and she even took to Facebook & elaborated on how much:

I guess that means she really likes it. See what she said about the tea-soaked raisins? It gave me an idea. Now me personally? I’m not into raisins. I did like the California Raisins, though. But anyway, I thought of her tea-soaked raisins which made me think of rum-raisin, and then my brain went straight to Jameson Irish whiskey. And then it went to Jameson-soaked raisins. I wasn’t going to put them in the cake, but on top. And I decided, like Chrisie, to make the cake into little muffins or cupcakes. Then I’d top them with a vanilla-Jameson glaze & some Irish whiskey-soaked golden raisins.

Shut the front door, right?

And yes, I left some plain with just a nice, sugary crust on top.

IRISH SODA MUFFINCAKES WITH JAMESON-SOAKED RAISINS & JAMESON GLAZE

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps. melted shortening (or butter)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Make wet dough: mix salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour and sugar. Beat eggs lightly and add melted shortening and buttermilk.
  2. Mix all together until combined. If too watery, add a bit more flour. If too thick, add a bit more buttermilk.
  3. Prepare a muffin tin with liners. Fill each liner with two-three tablespoons of batter.
  4. Before putting in the oven, sprinkle sugar on top (if not using the raisins & glaze).
  5. Bake at 375 degrees° F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

JAMESON-SOAKED RAISINS

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 3-4 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey (enough to cover the raisins)

Directions:

  1. Place raisins in a small bowl and pour whiskey over them.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a cool, dry place for about a half hour, 45 minutes.
  3. When ready to use, remove raisins using a small strainer to remove excess whiskey. Use the whiskey in a drink or even in the glaze (below).

JAMESON WHISKEY GLAZE

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons Jameson Irish whiskey (or whatever brand you prefer), you can use whatever is left after the raisins have soaked too
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. For glaze, pour sugar & Jameson into a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat; boil rapidly for 1 full minute. Remove from heat, whisk in butter & vanilla. Let set to thicken slightly for a few minutes. Place raisins on top of the muffins. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over cooled muffincakes, making sure to cover the raisins.

Forreals, yo.

I prefer to use golden raisins on these because let’s face it- regular raisins can look like mouse crap. Sorry if that ruined your appetite, haha. And of course, the colors of the golden raisins go better with the color of the cakes and the green liners anyway. Those fancy “ruffled” liners are by Wilton. I baked the muffincakes in regular white liners, then put them in the fancier ones after they’d cooled.

So basically, feedback on these has been “holy balls” & “wow” & statements along those lines. I didn’t have any, ’cause like I said, I don’t like raisins. But.. if you want to be on a super Jameson kick, then pair these with some Irish coffee. Or Irish coffee my way, which is coffee with milk & sugar & Jameson, then topped with whipped cream.

Panettone Al Cioccolato.

Don’t you love espresso? I do. Well, I love coffee of all kinds. One of the best gifts Jay ever got me was my Keurig. Yes- I am aware that I have said that about both Lola, my laptop (a.k.a. “June Carter”) & most recently my iPhone (through all my Andy Rooney-like anti-iPhone “you are all sheeple” grumblings I’ve come to realize this thing is amazing), but it’s kinda sick how much I love this Keurig. He gives good gifts, what can I say? I definitely inherited my love of coffee from my parents, despite wondering as a child how people could drink so much of it in one day when they could just have a can of Coke. They weren’t the kind of people that had one cup at 8 a.m. & the coffee machine was cold until the next morning, they were the kind of people who had cup after cup after cup all day long. And I never understood that.

Until now. Things have changed. I love coffee, I love fancy coffee, I love frapps, I love cappuccino, I love it all. But sometimes I just enjoy a simple espresso. And sometimes… I like some frothy milk on top.

So yeah, I like coffee. I find it’s pretty much a perfect match for anything- cookies, cupcakes, cakes, pies, muffins, even ice cream. But for the purposes of this post, I had it with some panettone. Yes, panettone. What could go better with espresso than panettone?

Panettone (pronounced /pænəˈtoʊni/[1]) is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan (in Milanese it is called panaton),[2] usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year in Italy, Malta, Brazil, Germany and Switzerland, and is one of the symbols of the city of Milan. Maltese nationals are also traditionally associated with this sweet loaf. In Latin America, especially in Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Peru, it is a Christmas dinner staple and in some places replaces roscón de reyes/bolo rei (King cake).

It has a cupola shape, which extends from a cylindrical base and is usually about 12-15 cm high for a panettone weighing 1 kg. Other bases may be used, such as an octagon, or a frustum with star section shape more common to pandoro. It is made during a long process that involves the curing of the dough, which is acidic, similar to sourdough. The proofing process alone takes several days, giving the cake its distinctive fluffy characteristics. It contains candied orange, citron, and lemon zest, as well as raisins, which are added dry and not soaked. Many other variations are available such as plain or with chocolate . It is served in slices, vertically cut, accompanied with sweet hot beverages or a sweet wine, such as Asti or Moscato d’Asti. In some regions of Italy, it is served with crema di mascarpone, a cream made from mascarpone, eggs, sometimes dried or candied fruits, and typically a sweet liqueur such as amaretto; if mascarpone cheese is unavailable, zabaione is sometimes used as a substitute.

Efforts are underway to obtain Protected Designation of Origin and Denominazione di origine controllata status for this product, but, as of late 2008, this had not occurred.[3] Italian Agriculture Minister Paolo De Castro was looking at ways to protect the real Italian cakes from growing competition in Latin America and whether they can take action at the World Trade Organization.

-Wikipedia

But no, this is not the stuff that comes in a box that you can find in every Italian family’s home at this time of year. This is homemade stuff, made with ingredients that make it practically irresistible to me; chocolate chips. I’m personally not big on the dried fruit or citron thing. But when I saw the recipe I knew I’d have to alter it to suit me. It’s made in a buttered brown bag… how the hell was I supposed to resist? So here’s my version of panettones… little ones that are easier to give (and eat!).

CHOCOLATE CHIP MINI-PANETTONE’S

Makes 7

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon warm water
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 1 scant tablespoon)
  • 1 ¼ cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ¾ teaspoon heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Pour warm water into a bowl, and sprinkle with half of the yeast. Stir with a fork until yeast has dissolved, then let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in ⅛ cup flour, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour warm milk into a bowl, and sprinkle with remaining yeast. Stir with a fork until yeast has dissolved, then let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together sugar, whole egg, 1 egg yolk, salt, and vanilla. Whisk in milk mixture.
  4. Beat butter and remaining flour with a mixer fitted with a dough hook on medium speed until mixture is crumbly. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add egg mixture. Raise speed to medium, and beat until smooth. Add yeast-and-flour mixture, and beat on high speed until dough is elastic and long strands form when it’s stretched, about 5 minutes (it will still be very sticky.) Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Transfer to a buttered bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let dough stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400° degrees, with rack in lower third. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and divide into 7 little portions of dough. Knead a few times, then shape into balls. Drop each ball into a buttered brown paper mold (see below for directions) and loosely cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until rises slightly to the top, about 30 to 45 minutes. Whisk remaining yolk with cream, and brush onto tops of balls. Cut an X in the top of each ball with kitchen shears (I didn’t do this).
  6. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° degrees, and bake until tops are golden brown and rise slightly above rims of molds, about 15 minutes. Tent baking sheet with foil if tops are beginning to get too brown. Transfer panettone to a wire rack to cool. Panettone can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Pre-baking, & pre-egg wash!

Recipe can be doubled, probably tripled too, FYI.

Okay so what I did was I cut up some brown paper lunch bags & used those as the “liners” or molds. It’s really easy, all you have to do is cut circle-squares (uneven circles or rounded squares) or tear them. Melt about 4-5 tablespoons butter and get a pastry brush ready. Then check & see if the paper fits in your muffin pan. If it doesn’t, trim it, if it does, butter it by brushing it on one side generously with butter & place it in a cavity, pressing down so it stays in place. Then plop a ball of dough on top of it. So simple. But you can also use these liners as well, if the whole DIY thing isn’t your bag (no pun intended). And if you’re a stickler, you can use real panettone paper molds. However I like to be very hands-on & creative, its a good outlet, & I’m always doing shit like this so for me it was a snap. If you do choose to DIY it, then use an old muffin tin. That’s what I did because I like my new ones to stay nice & clean & shiny. I keep an old one around for when I make pupcakes or popovers or stuff like this.

You can also substitute any dried fruits for the chocolate chips, and also add lemon or orange zest to the batter. But just so you know, the first batch of 7 that I made went all in one night.

Super easy, really. And delicious. Let’s face it, edible gifts are sometimes the best gifts. Like I said before- homemade jellies/jams/marmalades, breads, cookies & even homemade limoncello or vanilla extract can make a great gift. It doesn’t take much to personalize an edible gift. I happen to think homemade gifts are worth more than bought gifts, if there was time & effort obviously put into it. Someone once said the greatest gift a person can give you is their time, and if they made you a really beautiful homemade gift then that’s exactly what they did.

And I don’t mean a piece of construction paper with glitter on it, either. That’s only acceptable if you’re 10 or younger, sorry.

In a jam.

My mother has a habit of sending me recipes, usually it’s a hint that she wants me to make them for her. If it’s a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake, or anything involving fruits (especially berries) or balsamic vinegar, I know right away she’s not sending it to me because she thinks I’ll like it. So when I told her I ordered a canning kit, and she saw me become a fan of Punk Domestics on Facebook, and then within a few days received this recipe in my inbox, I knew where she was going with it. See, I don’t like rhubarb. It’s not my kind of flavor, personally. And I don’t like jam much either. I love making it, just not using it, which actually makes me the perfect person to make it. Like Biggie said,Never get high on your own supply.” Word. So anyway, she passed along the recipe and I knew that she’d want me to make it for her. And I obliged. I made this a week or so ago, so it was before her birthday (which is today, July 5th; happy birthday to her!). I just did it because I’m wonderful. For her birthday, I made her French vanilla ice cream, David Lebovitz‘s “improved” lemon curd, another really quick blueberry jam (those recipes are all coming soon, folks, be patient) and vanilla panna cotta with balsamic strawberries (her favorite). *waits for accolades & applause*

So this particular jam is a ginger/rhubarb combination, which I’ve heard (from people who’ve tasted it) is an amazing duo. Usually it’s strawberry/rhubarb that you see in pies, etc. Anywho… yes, I made this lovely, quick & easy jam like a good daughter. The best part? It doesn’t even require a canning kit! You don’t need anything fancy to make this… and it really is ridiculously easy.

As far as the ingredients, I’ll leave the details to Wikipedia:

Rhubarb is grown primarily for its fleshy petioles, commonly known as rhubarb sticks or stalks. The use of rhubarb stems as food is a relatively recent innovation, first recorded in 17th century England, after affordable sugar became available to common people, and reaching a peak between the 20th century’s two world wars.

Rhubarb can be dehydrated and infused with fruit juice. In most cases it is infused with strawberry juice to mimic the popular strawberry rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb root produces a rich brown dye similar to walnut husks. It is used in northern regions where walnut trees do not survive.

Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family (Zingiberaceae). Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.

Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer.

Candied ginger is the root cooked in sugar until soft, and is a type of confectionery.

Natural brown sugar is brown sugar made by partially refining sugar cane extract, whereas most brown sugar is made by adding molasses to fully refined sugar.

Golden coloured natural brown sugar is produced by extracting the juice from sugar cane, heating it to evaporate water and crystallise the sugar, then spinning in a centrifuge to remove some impurities and further dry the sugar. It is commonly used in baking and to sweeten beverages such as coffee and tea.

In the United States, a similar sugar is commonly called turbinado sugar, after the centrifuges or turbines in which it is spun.[1] In the United States, most turbinado sugar is produced in Hawaii and is often sold as an organic product. A product sold in the U.S. is marketed under the name brand “Sugar in the Raw”.[2] There are slight differences in taste between turbinado and demerara sugar.[3]A third, somewhat lighter, type is produced in Mexico under the name Azucar Morena[4].

All three of these ingredients are interesting in and of themselves, but who would’ve thought by just boiling them together with a little citrus zest you’d get a quick little jam? And …I had to make a pound cake to go with it, just to make it more interesting for me. Rhubarb is a very ‘stringy’ vegetable/fruit/thing, and when cooked it gets gluey very fast, despite being low in pectin, and the caramelized sugar helps to hold it together really well. It gets firmer after being in the fridge for a while, it’s looser if you use it warm. And who doesn’t like some jam on pound cake? I mean, aside from me, that is. Either way- this pound cake is terrific, with or without the ‘barb jam. More about that after the recipe, though. First- jam!

RHUBARB GINGER JAM (From Local Kitchen Blog/adapted from Bon Appétit, July 1997)

Yields about 1 and ½ cups

Gather yer stuff:

  • 1 lb rhubarb, trimmed, washed and sliced to ⅛-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 3 oz crystallized ginger, chopped (about 9 tbsp)
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon & orange zest (about half:half), coarsely chopped

Then do this:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar and prevent scorching.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until jam thickens and mounds on a spoon, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a glass bowl or jar, cover and chill in the refrigerator. Store refrigerated for up to 3 months, or canned & kept in a cool, dark spot for up to a year.
  4. Options: Evaporated cane juice, or processed white sugar, will produce a more rosy colored jam than the turbinado sugar, but turbinado gives a hint of caramelized flavor.  Your choice. · This produces a quite gingery jam; if you don’t love ginger, try making it with 1-2 oz ginger first. If you adore ginger, try 4 oz. · Given the acidic rhubarb and dried, candied ginger, this recipe is safely acidic for water-bath canning should you want to increase the amounts and save some for room temperature storage.

I used about half, maybe a little more than half of the amount of ginger in the recipe, and it was more than ginger-y enough (or so I heard). I also used the turbinado sugar, because I figured it was in the original recipe for a reason. The caramelized color/flavor was enjoyed very much, so I doubt I’d stray from it. I plopped the jam in a cleaned-out spaghetti sauce jar (I told you, SAVE YOUR JARS) and had room to spare (the above photos were taken after liberal amounts were dispersed among slices of pound cake & into people’s mouths). The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, though. If you aren’t quite ready for real canning, there are tons of these quick jam recipes out there that are really easy and a good foray into the real thing. By the way, this post is in the ‘vegan’ category because of the jam, not the cake. Duh.

Okay, now on to that pound cake. I got this recipe for a traditional pound cake from that book I mentioned a while back Sweets: Soul Food Desserts & Memories by Patty Pinner. I figured, if I’m gonna make a pound cake, why not go for the gold and make a real, authentic Southern one. I used a plain tube pan, but a fancier bundt pan would be nice too. The cake itself doesn’t need a lot of bells & whistles; it’s perfect plain, as I said, but also an awesome backdrop for ice creams, any kind of jams or jellies &  especially sauces (raspberry sauce, rhubarb sauce, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce… you name it). Also, a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar is always nice on top, but not 100% necessary.

Talk about a beautiful goddamn pound cake! It was perfect, from the texture to the crumb to everything. Best pound cake ever.

POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease & lightly flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture is light & fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the flour to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk; begin and end with flour.
  4. Beat on low speed, just until blended, after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Mix well.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Unmold the cake carefully onto the rack to cool completely.
  6. Transfer the cake to a decorative platter and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, if desired, before serving.

So there you have it. A perfect combination of treats to bring to a barbecue or picnic. Or, to make for your mother.

Get yer leprechauns ready…

Ah, I love St. Patrick’s Day. I love the parade, I love Bailey’s, I love Guinness, & I even like a little Jameson in my coffee. I’m aware that’s not the meaning of the holiday, but come on. Lighten up. St. Patrick would’ve loved to down some Jameson or green beer while chasin’ those pesky snakes out of Eire.

Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is a religious holiday on the 17th of March. It is named after Saint Patrick (circa AD 387–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland. It began as a purely Catholic holiday and became an official feast day in the early 17th century. It has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Ireland’s culture.

Little is known of Patrick’s early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father and grandfather were deacons in the Church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave.[3] It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.[citation needed]

In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianize the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.

Originally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick’s day grew.[4] Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century.[5] He is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day.[6][7] In the 1798 rebellion, in hopes of making a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention.[4] The phrase “the wearing of the green”, meaning to wear a shamrock on one’s clothing, derives from a song of the same name.

Well now that I’ve given you all a little history lesson, let me just say this is a great holiday to cook & bake for. While I do not like the “traditional” corned beef & cabbage, I love beer, Irish cream, Irish cheddar, and potatoes. And since I did one of these little compilation thingies for Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas & Valentine’s Day, I’d be remiss if I overlooked this holiday. So, friends, céad míle fáilte to my post of favorite St. Patty’s Day confections & treats!

One of the most popular cupcakes I’ve posted, and one of my favorites! A delicious way to enjoy Bailey’s without drinking it. Find the recipe here: Luck o’ the Irish: Bailey’s Irish cream cupcakes.

Another alcohol-enriched cupcake, this time made with Guinness stout. Even if you’re not a fan of stouts, you’ll LOVE this. It tastes like a deeper, more intense chocolate. I actually used plain vanilla buttercream, but the recipe includes a whipped cream cheese frosting. Get the recipes here: Guinness stout cupcakes with whipped cream cheese frosting.

These are some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. Ina Garten is nuts. The amount of butter & eggs in it are also nuts, but it’s worth it. It’s even worth it to halve the recipe, which is what I usually do. Amazing really. Get the details: Coconut cupcakes, a la Ina Garten.
These cupcakes… these cupcakes I had some issues with. It’s from the book 500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connolly. I found them to be a bit dry, more muffin-y. However the frosting redeemed them. It tasted like melted mint chocolate chip ice cream. I think it’s still a great recipe, it just needs a little tweaking. Are you the one to finally tweak it perfectly? Find out: Happy March Mint Chocolate Chip cupcakes.

So there you have it. Four awesome cupcake recipes/ideas for St. Patrick’s Day. And if you’re not into cupcakes, or don’t like things that are too sweet, I have one more recommendation for you: Irish soda cake.

This Irish soda cake recipe was given to my mother by a friend of hers, Alice, many years ago. Alice came from Ireland & brought this recipe with her when she came to the United States. It’s not like traditional Irish soda bread; it’s slightly sweeter, with a sugary top. It’s dense, more like a bread than a cake, but it’s definitely sweeter. No raisins, no caraway seeds. Just plain ol’ fashioned goodness. Get the recipe here: Irish Soda Cake.

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Another cute idea would be to make shortbread cookies (or sugar cookies) in the shape of shamrocks. Use green colored royal icing or Candy Melts to decorate them. Yes, shortbread is Scottish, not Irish, but it’s fucking delicious. As far as savory items go, a good Shepherd’s pie, with Guinness or without, is a great idea. I hope these suggestions help you in your quest to find the perfect St. Patrick’s Day treat. I plan on adding more this year in the coming weeks. Now you can go help yourself to some Irish coffee. Go ahead, you’ve earned it.

*Shamrock Photoshop brushes used in the above images are from Obsidian Dawn

Happy birthday, mom!

So my mom wanted a flourless chocolate cake for her birthday this year, which is fine, and I’ve made two of them and have like 25 more recipes for variations on that theme (some with liqueurs, some with fruit topping, etc). But when it came down to it I wanted to do something different. And then I found this recipe.

This recipe is for individual chocolate lava cakes, but I didn’t fill them with the chocolate, I topped them with it instead. Basically because I felt like it. So instead of chilling it and letting it harden, I just left it on top of the stove, off heat, and stirred it occasionally while the cakes were cooking to keep it warm and soft. Then when the cakes were out of the oven, I let them sit 5 minutes, put them on plates and spooned some chocolate on top of them. But I’m writing up the recipe as it was originally written, so you can decide what you’d like to do with yours. I also topped them with strawberries and whipped cream, but that’s up to you too. Any kind of berry you want would suffice.

This is an extremely delicious, really easy recipe that you can make in no time at all and that looks very impressive when plated. If you don’t have ramekins or custard cups, muffin tins work too. They’ll be a bit smaller, but otherwise fine. Just make sure you really grease the tins up good, then when you take them out just flip ‘em upside down. And if you use muffin tins and your cakes rise too high, you can slice off the “tops” (really the bottoms) and make them even, then use those pieces crumbled up on top of vanilla ice cream later on. It’s a win-win situation.

INDIVIDUAL CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES

Ingredients:

Chocolate centers:

  • 2 ounces 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate baking bar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Chocolate cake:

  • 4 ounces 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate baking bar*
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup cake flour
  • Berries, whipped cream & confectioners sugar for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. To make the chocolate centers, melt 2 ounces chocolate baking bar and heavy cream in a double boiler. Whisk gently to blend. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Roll into 6 equal balls, refrigerate until needed.
  2. To make cake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray 6 ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. Melt 4 ounces chocolate in double boiler with ½ cup butter, whisk gently to blend.
  3. Place egg yolks, eggs, sugar and vanilla in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip attachment to mixer. Mix about 5 minutes or until thick and light.
  4. Fold melted chocolate and flour into egg mixture by hand until just combined. Divide among prepared ramekins. Place one chocolate ball in the center of each. Bake about 15 minutes or until cake is firm to the touch. Let sit out of the oven for 5 minutes.
  5. Run a small, sharp knife around inside of each ramekin, place a plate on top, invert and remove ramekin.Garnish with berries, confectioners sugar and whipped cream, if desired.

*You can substitute cocoa powder if necessary- in the cake ONLY, just use 3 tablespoons per ounce needed.

Happy birthday to my mom- without whom there would be no Cupcake Rehab, because there would be no me! Love you, mom! Technically, her birthday is tomorrow, July 5th, but when you’re presenting someone with many little chocolate cakes you can say happy birthday whenever you want.

Me & my mom, 27 years or so ago… wonder where I got my latest hair inspiration from?

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…And also a happy (belated) birthday to my girl Sami who turned 25 yesterday!

Finally, to all you who are also in the U.S., I wish you all a safe and Happy 4th of July.

Daring Baker’s Challenge: Caramel Cake with caramelized butter frosting.

This month’s DB challenge has a special place in my heart. I adore caramel.  And it is indeed pronounced car-a-mel. Not ‘carmel.’ People please, note the ‘a’ in there. Its just plain based on the rules of the English language. Car-a-mel. If you say ‘carmel’ just go away. No I’m kidding- don’t go away. I’m sorry. Just say it the right way. Anyway… I love caramel. I don’t eat candy as a rule but if its caramel -all bets are off. My favorite is Cadbury’s Caramello bar… yum. Or Ghirardelli’s milk chocolate caramel bar. But that caramel rule also includes the delicious Caramacs (you haven’t lived until you’ve had someone in Hawaii send you these) and Newman’s Own organic caramel cups, and on the lower end of the monetary spectrum Milk Duds, Sugar Daddy, Junior Caramels and any variation thereof. No, I do NOT like Werthers, thankyouverymuch, it tastes like fake caramel. I prefer caramel to chocolate by a landslide, but chocolate covered caramel is heaven. I actually pick out the caramels from boxes of Valentine’s Day candy and leave the rest. And those who went to high school with me will clearly remember me spending my lunch money on miniature boxes of a caramel candy called Pom-Poms (which are now discontinued- so sad!) and stuffing those entire boxes in my mouth at once. Yeah, the dentist loves me, and yeah,  despite all that, I somehow managed to weigh 125 pounds at 5 feet 9 inches tall throughout high school. So, this Daring Baker’s challenge made me very very happy.

The host this month is Shuna Fish Lydon and the co-hosts are Alex (http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com/) and Jenny (http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/). The Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting is courtesy of Shuna (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/), as published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/). And since none of us know jack about alternative baking, we’ve once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (http://glutenagogo.blogspot.com/) to assist us. Now lets get down to business!

This cake is a perfect fall cake. Its easy enough to make for Thanksgiving (well, next year) even if you’re making a full dinner, yet its elegant and delicious enough to convince people you spent either a lot of time on it or a lot of money. I bet it’d be AMAZING as cupcakes and I totally plan on remaking it as such. I would’ve done it this time but I never ever make cakes, so I thought I’d stick to the cake idea. But this would be SO good as cupcakes!

I used a bundt-type pan, but alternately you could use a tall (or deep) round pan, or two layer cake pans and make it a layer cake. After frosting it I used some leftover caramel syrup to drizzle on the top of the cake. :D I have tons of syrup left, too, so I may make those cupcakes soon. The caramelized butter frosting was so unique and amazing, there are no words. When I went to PA this summer, me and Jay ate brown butter pretzels from a pretzel factory, and we fell in love with it… and this frosting is made with the same brown-butter technique. A-mah-zing. Seriously. If you don’t want to make this cake, at least try the frosting.

Here’s the order I recommend making it in: syrup, frosting, cake. You can do the syrup and frosting the night before, then make the cake the next day and frost it if you wish. I made it all in one night and it didn’t take long at all, I think it was almost 2.5 hours start to finish. And thats even accounting for the time it took to wash the mixer bowl between making the cake and frosting. For full recipe and another photo click the link below to continue reading!

Continue reading

Flourless chocolate cake.

I’ve been dying to make this recipe for AGES. This is a really good recipe, and may I just say of course it is because its a Martha recipe… and when is she ever wrong? Never. That and its gluten-free (because theres no flour in it- nudge, nudge Jamie!). Its a very light (very VERY LIGHT), elegant, gourmet recipe but its also a good recipe to make if you’re low on flour and sugar and still need (or want) to bake. It makes a dense chocolate cake that almost melts in your mouth, but yet is incredibly airy. Its not a French recipe (although I do have one of those, but it requires Grand Marnier and I don’t have any) but it tastes very French. Oui, oui!

This may be my first, but it is certainly not my last “le gâteau au chocolat sans la farine…”

It’s a very delicate, ladylike cake

There are infinite ways to make it interesting; you could “stencil” a shape on the top (place a cutout of a shape on the middle of the cake, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and then remove the shape… voila!), coat it in melted chocolate and raspberries, make a pool of chocolate/caramel/white chocolate/raspberry sauce for it to sit in, etc, etc.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingrédients:

  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate)
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon for coating the pan
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F, with rack in the center.
  2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Place butter and chocolate in a large bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until melted. Cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add in granulated sugar; beat until stiff and glossy.
  4. Whisk ¼ of egg whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold that into remaining egg whites.
  5. Pour into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan and is just set in the center, roughly 45-50 minutes.
  6. Cool completely on wire rack.
  7. Serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, a dollop of fresh whipped cream, or whatever you wish.

Yum. La bonne vie!!