There should always be dessert on Easter

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Happy Easter!

This a coincidental Easter-dessert post, but it seems fitting regardless – some normalcy amidst the chaos! I spent a lovely morning with C – we did our usual urban hike loop for a good six miles with lots of elevation.

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Normally I’d always make dessert for fam Easter, but since everyone is isolated, this one was eaten by C and I for dessert last night after a zoom board game night with the nieces and nephews, and then for breakfast this morning. Sadly, I didn’t have chocolate with my Easter bfast, but rest assured I’m making up for it now.

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Highly recommended to put tea in dessert! Not the first time I’ve done this of course, but it still remains one of my favorite things. Oolong is one of my absolute faves – although I’d actually be hard pressed to pick favorites, since I always have several types each of black, green, oolong, and herbals around here. It seems that anything that is coffee or tea flies with me, ha!

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This is also very easy to make – you’re basically making tea with the panna cotta filling before you actually turn it into a panna cotta. Bonus points for being all things out of my pantry (am averaging about 8 days between trips to the market, and trying to keep it that way), and for being gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. It’s easily grain free too, if you sub the cornmeal for more almond flour.

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I hope you’re able to find some quality time today with those you love, whether via an online, streamed thing or in person. I was lucky enough to do both – Easter traditions with the fam, though virtual, and time with C.

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Happy Easter! Go eat chocolate :)

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Oolong Panna Cotta with a Black Sesame Crust

A Wait are Those Cookies original. Gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. Yield: 1 9″ tart, serves several. If you don’t have oolong, I think black tea would also be good here with the black sesame – maybe Earl Grey or Chinese Breakfast – anything you’d put milk in.

For the crust:

1/4 c black sesame seeds
1.5 c almond flour
1/3c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3c cornmeal
heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
6 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Using a mortar & pestle, grind up the sesame seeds until they’re a gritty, flour-like consistency. You’ll probably have a few larger pieces in there, which is totally fine.

In a large bowl, stir together sesame seeds, almond flour, shredded coconut, cornmeal, sea salt, and baking soda. Add in vanilla, maple, and melted coconut oil, and stir until completely combined. The dough will look crumbly, but you’ll be able to press it together with your fingers.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a 9″ tart pan (w/ removable bottom) with coconut oil. Press the crust into the plate and up the sides with a spoon or your fingers, creating a smooth edge (or not, your call!). Poke the bottom with a fork a few times, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.

For the Panna Cotta:
1 package unflavored powdered gelatin
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
3 oolong tea bags, tea leaves removed
Scant 1/4 cup maple
1/4 c cold water

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of the cold water. Let stand without stirring until the gelatin is moistened, about 10 minutes.

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and add the tea leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring consistently. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.

Strain the coconut milk to remove the tea leaves. Whisk in maple and vanilla, and bring the milk back up to a simmer. Whisk in the gelatin mixture. Stir until completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Cool until lukewarm. Pour the panna cotta mixture into the cooled tart shell. Place in the refrigerator until set, approximately 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Top with whatever pretty things your heart desires! Serve cold out of the fridge. Store any leftovers covered in the fridge as well.

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Cannonball Depth Charge!

spoooongebob!

SO. Indulgence time, ready…go.

These cupcakes have THREE kinds of alcohol in them. Impressed? Yes. You should be. And no… I did NOT bake these in my car… though I’m pretty sure my car would smell aaaamazing if I had done so. Though perhaps making your car smell like alcoholic beverages is really not the best idea…

Anywayyy.

As a belated Vati’s Day reward for Vacuum Vati (AAND as a virtual birthday present for Carl—Happy Birthday!!), I decided to make him/them cupcakes! But wait. Not just ANY cupcakes, oh no. These correspond appropriately to the logic these two jokers so often spout when they get together: beer = a meal in a glass; cupcakes = sissy dessert. By my logic, then: beer in a cupcake = a complete meal + non-sissy, manly dessert. QED. Ha. Infallible logic, don’t you think? And why settle for just beer in a cupcake, when you could have 2 more types of alcohol as well? And what better compliment to beer than Irish whiskey and Bailey’s?! Let’s be real, Bailey’s goes with anything.

mmm

That being said, these cupcakes are indulgently delicious. No stinting on the butter in these babies (live a little every so often!). The cake is moist (eww no, not that word again!) HYDRATED, and delicately compliments the slightly bitter chocolate-whiskey ganache. Bailey’s buttercream completes an already ridiculous combo, rounding out the flavors perfectly. Guinness, Jameson, and Bailey’s… an inspired trifecta! These take the Guinness brownies to an entirely new level (and I definitely like them better)… are you salivating yet? Hmm, I thought so.

In endeavoring to be politically correct and inoffensive to all parties involved, let’s call these..

//

Depth Charge Cupcakes!

(hehe. get it?! Like a shot dropped into a beer… use your imagination.) I made a half-batch and ended up with 12 cupcakes, a perfectly manageable number for 3 people. I’ll give my measurements here; double if you need a mega-batch. Recipe very slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker! I reduced the sugar slightly—it may even be okay to take it down a bit more, as per sweetness preferences.

Let’s do this:

un-sprinkled

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • scant 3/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • very heaping 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c plain lowfat yogurt
  • 1/2 c Guinness
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softish
  • 1/4 c + 1/8 c unsweetened cocoa powder

For the whiskey-ganache:

  • 4 oz dark chocolate (I used one bar of Trader Joe’s 72% Fair Trade Belgian chocolate)
  • 1/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp butter, softish
  • 2 tsp of Jameson or other Irish whiskey (mine were two teaspoons that *oops* accidentally mega-runneth over)

For the buttercream:

  • 1 c unsalted butter (2 sticks), a bit soft
  • 2.5 c powdered sugar
  • a good glug of Bailey’s (somewhere in the vicinity of 5 tbsp)
  • a dash of Jameson (I didn’t measure, likely around 2 or 3 tsp)
filled :)

Proceed!

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a cupcake/muffin tin with liners… mine happened to be Spongebob. Don’t judge! In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together egg and yogurt until combined. In a small saucepan, bring Guinness and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder. Let cool a bit. Once cool(er), add the Guinness-butter mixture to the egg/yogurt, and beat until combined. I ran the mixer on low while adding mine, since it was still on the warm side, to prevent scrambled eggs (ewww, who wants that?!). Reduce speed to low and add in flour mixture, beating until combined (but minimally, to keep cupcakes fluffy!). Fold in any remaining flour. Pour batter into cupcake tins, and bake for just about 17 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

up close and cupcake personal

While the cupcakes are baking, make the ganache! In a small saucepan, heat cream until just barely simmering (watch it like a hawk—we don’t want it scalded! Ewwwy). Break chocolate up into smallish pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. When the cream reaches the simmer point, pour it over the chocolate and let sit for one minute, then stir it carefully together until incorporated. Add butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let sit for a bit, until it firms up just slightly but is still scoop-able.

For the buttercream: I recommend a stand mixer for this. Do as I say, not as I do… a hand mixer was not the smartest choice…

Beat softened butter a few minutes until fluffy. Add in powdered sugar gradually, until completely incorporated. Add in Bailey’s and whiskey and beat until combined. It should be spreadable: light and fluffy!

Assembly:

Using a metal decorating tip (I found a small spoon for scooping to be helpful), cut out the centers of the cooled cupcakes, about 2/3 of the way down (extra bonus: eating the centers is totally acceptable). Fill the resulting hole with slightly-cooled ganache. Frost as desired. Sprinkles are nice :)

Imbibe. Indulge. Enjoy your canon ball depth charge in cupcake form.

I know, I know… don’t be jealous ;)

 

Chocolate cake pairs wonderfully well with cello sonatas.

So proud!!

Okay so…

I know that generally speaking, you’re not really supposed to brag about how fabulous your cooking is. But that’s too bad, because I’m going to break that rule. Just for right now…

side view :)

Because I am SO PROUD of this cake! I made it for Ian’s Senior Recital on the cello (which was also beyond fantastic, congratulations, Ian! And thanks for playing Beethoven’s cello sonata in A, it’s my favorite :), and I just had to share it with you. Because it’s sort of like my child. That’s how proud I am! Besides, everyone deserves a little horn-tooting of their own every so often. I’ve actually already posted the recipe on this blog, but this version is like a classier cousin of the one I made before. If you want the recipe, it’s here! This is still one of my favorite cakes: malted chocolate cake, with malted buttercream! The stenciled patterns are done with malt powder. The pictures speak for themselves :)

Congratulations, Ian! You were BOMB.
mmm, frostingggg!
three layers of goodness.

Now Panic and Eat Cake!

The caking continues!

and cards!

Hello everybody! This is Kira, Hayley’s recently-arrived roomie. You might remember me from the banana cake issue preceding this. As the newest occupant of the Nerd-aerie (aka our apartment) I feel it is my solemn duty to make an appearance here in order to introduce myself, since I’ll be sharing in many of the cooking adventures to be featured in the coming posts. And what better occasion than the baking of a cake in celebration of my roomie/partner-in-crime’s 21st birthday? None, I say!

Let me just start off by saying that, while I do love me some good foods, and making them too, I have never been much of what you would call an instinctive or experimental cook. As a rule I find me a recipe and follow it! But living with Hayley (and reading her blog!) is challenging me to get a bit more creative, so for my first project I gave myself a little creative license and even improvised a bit.

I came across a recipe (in one of Hayley’s cookbooks) for orange cake, which sounded perfect, since we even had a lone orange that was lurking around the kitchen just waiting to be used (and the theme of this blog is cooking with what you have!), and since I wanted to make something a little different than just your typical chocolate birthday cake.

yummmm.

Orange Cake with Dark Chocolate and Orange Glaze

I found the original recipe in Hayley’s Moosewood Cookbook. That one calls for an orange glaze, but I thought that was much too boring, especially for a birthday cake. A birthday cake should have at least some chocolate! Plus the idea of orange with dark chocolate has been on my brain ever since a potluck I went to a few weeks ago where someone had brought candied orange rinds dipped in dark chocolate– heavenly! (And something on my list of future experiments)

What you need for the cake:

butter for the pan
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp grated orange rind (I upped this slightly, as I wanted it to be really orangey)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbs baking soda
Whisked together:
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 10-inch tube or bundt pan (I halved this recipe on account of not having enough butter, not having a bundt pan, and not having 12-16 people to share it with! The halved recipe still makes a respectably-sized cake that fits great in a 9×9 in. cake pan).

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Stir in the orange rind and vanilla. Set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add this to the butter mixture
alternately with the combined yoghurt and orange juice, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix by hand after each addition–just enough to combine well.

Turn into the prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted all the way down comes out clean. (*Note: if you make a half recipe, like I did, definitely set it for 50 minutes first and make sure to check it–60 min would have gotten me a burnt cake for sure!) Cool for about 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate (if you’re using a bundt pan, otherwise ignore). Allow to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Glaze with Orange

Okay, so this is where I got creative. The recipe calls for an orange glaze, but I’m going to give you my chocolate one instead, as I think it was superior.

What you need:

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs butter
small amount boiling water
grated orange rind

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a small saucepan, then add the boiling water until you get the consistency you want–pourable but preferably not watery. Add orange rind to taste. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Pour the hot glaze onto the cooled cake and garnish with sliced orange peels. Let stand at least 10 minutes before slicing.

*Note: these are the glaze proportions I used for my half-recipe cake. If you go whole hog (in a manner of speaking) you might need to double this, depending on how much chocolatey goodness you want on your cake.

Also, food for thought–you could try adding 2-3 Tbs orange liqueur to the glaze mix as well! It would have been exceptionally fitting in Hayley’s 21st birthday cake, but sadly I had none to hand at the time.

In conclusion…

The cake was a delicious success, not too sweet and excellent with vanilla ice cream and fresh-picked blackberries, or (in the spirit of the thing) Kahlua!

Not a lush, I promise!

Keep Calm and Cake On!

old picture, from Wurstfest. But cute! Roomiesss!

The Roomie has landed! Our apartment is now officially EPIC. And the fridge is fully stocked with deliciousness, hooray! Be prepared to read about lots of shenanigans that will most likely ensue, in the kitchen and otherwise. Or, if you’d like to witness it yourself, you can come stay in the closet/guest room. Yep. We have a guest room sized closet, be jealous.You can be like Harry Potter, in his cupboard! Except more awesome,  since we’re WAY cooler than the Dursleys.

Because I was SUPER EXCITED that the Roomie (otherwise known as Kira, just so we’re all on a first name basis here…) was arriving, I decided to make… a CAKE! Of course. What else?!  The only problem was that I made it Saturday… and she wasn’t arriving until Sunday night… which meant that I spent all of the time between wanting to eat it. Oops. But I didn’t! Willpower wins, so there! Take that gremlins! Be satisfied with your muffins and stop bothering me.

Also, in the interest of my quest to utilize everything and not waste anything, I had my eye on some dangerously ripe buhhhnahhnnas (say it with a drawl or an accent, it’s much more fun!). Because why would you make anything else when you could make banana cake?! Besides, it’s only the BEST BANANA CAKE EVER, and who needs an excuse for that?! I certainly don’t. In fact, one of the besties at home (Michellleeee!!!) can vouch that this cake is epic. AND the Roomie like it. A lot. So YAY! Cake wins all around. Moral of the story: Make cake whenever possible. Or as the British government wisely said, Keep Calm and Carry On. Or, rather… in my case… Keep calm and cake on. Always!

adorable small cake

Fabulous Buh-naah-na Cake

Adapted from The Pastry Affair (a really fab blog!), here

This cake is delicious. It’s simple, requires mostly what you have on hand in the pantry, and comes together in snap. Not only that, but it’s surprisingly light—a nap is not obligatory after finishing a slice :) The banana and chocolate flavors come together perfectly, and there is a perfect banana to chocolate ratio. It’s excellent with vanilla ice cream, of course (what isn’t ?!), but also stands divinely on its own. I always refrigerate it, so the glaze stays hard, but it’s really good out of the fridge, so everyone wins.

Whatcha need:

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (or microwaved until soft. I’m always too impatient)
1/2 cup white sugar (or less. I always use less—maybe more like 1/3 c)*
3/4 cup brown sugar (also less. Like maybe 1/2 c. Depends on your preference for sweet)*
2 large eggs
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

*I’ve also successfully made this cake in a half batch, with 1/2 c coconut sugar in place of the brown+white. I LOVE it this way, but up to you!

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease two 8 or 9″ cake pans (alternatively, make half the recipe, like I did for Kira, and use two 6.5″ pans. Perfect for two roomies!)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon,  and salt.

Using a hand mixer, cream the sugars and softened butter together until fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and mashed buhnahnas. Mix again.

Add in buttermilk and flour, alternating between the two, and starting and ending with flour. You can use your mixer for this too, which is obviously nice. Pour your batter into pans, and inhale the lovely banana aroma. Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. (It’ll be less for the 6.5″ pans–unfortunately I’m not sure how long mine took. I set the timer for 20, and watched them carefully from there. I’m thinking about 25 total). Let cool in pans for at least 10 minutes, and then let cool completely before frosting.

Keep Calm… and Sprinkle On? I think so.

Chocolate Glaze

In a double boiler, melt together 1/2 c of butter, and 2 c of chocolate chips. For a 6.5″ cake, I used a little more than half of this amount. I also threw in a little vanilla—it’s a nice addition. Let this cool a bit before frosting, otherwise it’s extremely runny. Which is kind of fun, but not exactly aesthetic…

Top with sprinkles! Of course. What else?! This is why my gremlins are technicolor.

Enjoy with a fab roomie, who you are super excited to live with, after a really civilized picnic-style dinner of good cheese, crusty bread, fresh basil, and fresh veggies. YUM.

din din!
I look like I’m about to fling the cake on the floor, oops!

AND THEN.

Do a happy dance because your lovely parents bought you a surprise for your 21st birthday on Friday! A RED Kitchenaide STANDMIXER! Happy, happy, HAPPY! Danke schoen, Mutti and Vati, you are quite possibly the BEST EVER!

Kitchenaide, you are my new pet!

Three-day weekends call for PIE!

Patriotic-ish Pie
Star spangled? hehe.

I’m not exactly one for making a huge deal out of the 4th. However. This is amended if it gives me an excuse to bake. (Despite the fact that it’s around a hundred degrees in the shade, which is a quarter of how hot the oven is. ew.)

Since I get to go skiing this weekend (and go swimming at a high elevation, teehee), thanks to abnormally ridiculous amounts of snow this winter, I thought I should make something slightly patriotic. Or whatever. I really just wanted pie. With peaches, because a) I love them and b) why would I even need another reason? Pie is excellent. Especially for breakfast. Or following a day of summer skiing. With ice cream. Yessss. (I can see you drooling, you know.)

That being said, I don’t make a lot of pies, which is why I’m so proud of this one.  It looks downright professional despite coming from a pie-newbie. Thanks to Mutti for getting in a bicep workout rolling out the dough :) I think I’ll add  pie to my repertoire. It has fruit. Fruit=healthy. Never mind the sugar and butter… It even has a whole wheat crust! See? Healthy. Breakfast.

Peach Pie (For the 4th of July! Ha. It  rhymes. Ewww. sorry.)

Adapted from Annie’s Eats, here: http://annies-eats.net/2007/06/17/a-slice-or-two-of-heaven/

3 cups whole wheat pastry
½ tsp. salt
6 oz. unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), chilled and diced
5-6 Tbs. cold water  (Mine took more like 8 tbsp to come together)

6 peaches, peeled and pitted, and 2 nectarines
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter. Cut the butter into the flour or rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture is crumb-like. Sprinkle 5 tablespoons of water over the mixture. With a fork, toss gently to mix and moisten it. Press the dough into a ball. If it is too dry to form a dough, add the remaining water. Wrap the ball of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, place the peaches in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss to coat well. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Add to the peaches and toss to combine.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let warm up a bit. Preheat oven to 425°.

Cut the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out one half into a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Try to keep the dough as round as possible. Transfer the rolled-out pastry to a 9-inch pie dish. Flute the edges by poking the dough outward with your fingers, and prick the bottom of the dough with a fork (to prevent a soggy crust). Roll out the pastry for the top crust and use star shaped (or any shape, really) cookie cutters to cut out bits of dough. Pile the fruit mixture into the pastry-lined pan and dot with bits of butter. Lay the stars over the top in a circular pattern, leaving space for the steam to escape.

 Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake until the juices are bubbling and the top is browned, about 25 minutes more. If the top is browning too fast, make a foil tent to cover it. I covered mine with about 9 minutes to go on the total baking time. Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8.

Ad astra per aspera!