All posts filed under: Sweet Things

The World’s Best (Chocolate) Cake

“So, what makes it the world’s best cake?” My sister asked, dubiously. “Well, Erin,” I began in my best bravado, “it has two dense, moist vanilla cake layers topped with meringue and toasted slivered almonds, and sandwiched in between,” I continued, exaggerating for effect, “is a luscious, overflowing layer of custard folded with whipped cream!” “So, it’s the world’s best non-chocolate cake,” she stated matter-of-factly. Well, there was nothing I could say to that. But what I could do, is make a chocolate version. This one’s for my sister; Happy Birthday Erin! To read about the origin of the World’s Best Cake, check out my very first post! This recipe makes one very small but sort of tall 10cm (4-inch) cake. We got four servings out of it. Ingredients Directions Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Briskly stir together softened butter and sugar. Add the yolk and stir until combined, then add the chocolate and stir until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa. Add to the butter mixture …

Mom’s Maple Pecan Cookies

“I want chocolate cake! With chocolate chips in it!” My young heart raced with the thought. “And chocolate icing…with chocolate shavings!” What else, I desperately thought, eager to not lose my chance of having the best cake ever. “And chocolate ice cream to go with it!” I concluded, triumphantly. I got my wish, believe it or not; my birthday cake that year was in the shape of a teddy bear head, with cupcakes for ears. It was chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, with chocolate on the side. My mom always knew how to pull out all the stops for special occasions. Or even everyday occasions. Biscuits, cornbread, and sheet cakes, which she began making as a young, Southern girl; trifle, Nanaimo bars, and butter tarts, adopted from her time in Canada; venison roasts following us to every place we moved, hunted and frozen from Thanksgivings in Tennessee spent at the family farm. Jam-filled muffins, saucy baked meatballs, and steaming hot monkey bread all made frequent appearances, much to our pleasure. I suppose, if I had to …

Swedish Princess Cake with a Twist

Things that are better with a twist mystery novels crime shows pipe cleaners a martini last summer tight joints puns giant teacups villains reluctance mazes mountain roads friendship bracelets swedish princess cake I‘m often hesitant to mess with a classic, and a classic the Swedish Princess Cake is indeed, originating in the 1930s. And I don’t really consider this an improvement, just another option. I enjoy the original, but it does, at times, taste a bit too sweet, with all the cake, cream, jam, and marzipan, so I thought a layer of tart lemon curd would be just what was needed to brighten it up a bit and add a nice twist. Swedish Princess Cake From SwedishFood.com with changes influenced by a handwritten recipe from my collection. Ingredients If you don’t have access to pre-rolled marzipan, get 500g (18oz) of marzipan and green food coloring, and follow these directions. Directions Preheat the oven to 180C/355F. Prepare three spring form pans by securing a piece of baking paper between the bottom and sides of each. (Alternatively, …

Waffle Cake

Some things I love about Sweden: While other Nordic countries have respectable colors like white, crimson, and dark blue on their flags, Sweden’s is an almost aqua shade of blue and bright yellow. Sweden recycles 99% of household waste. Sweden comes in at number 4 on The Global Gender Gap Index (Iceland, Finland, and Norway are numbers 1, 2, and 3, respectively). You can buy caviar in tubes. There are entire days dedicated to baked goods, i.e., October 4th is Cinnamon Bun Day, Fat Tuesday is all about Semla Buns, Christmas is rung in with St. Lucia Saffron Buns, and March 25th is—you guessed it—Waffle Day! When I first saw a waffle cake in Sweet Paul Magazine, I knew I had to make one, and Waffle Day seemed like the perfect opportunity! The waffle irons that are most popular in Scandinavia create thin waffles with five or six heart shapes in them. This shape makes for a lovely cake, but of course any shape will do. If you use a Belgian waffle iron, however, you …

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits on Hazelnut Meringues

Things that make me go hmmmm chocolate cake with chocolate chips and chocolate icing the perfect espresso writing a long overdue email and getting a response the next day writing a spontaneous email and getting no response at all does this go in the dryer? a sunset on Siesta beach a picnic on Siesta beach… …with my parents exactly what kind of cheese is this? red wine clean sheets a bubble bath why did I miss Mexican food when I lived in Paris? a poem about dreams coffee stains covering the backsplash… no clue how they got there dried pancake batter on the ceiling… no clue how it got there behind my stove coffee on the balcony in January strawberry shortcake in March Hazelnut Meringues Inspired by The Flavor Thesaurus. Ingredients 3 egg whites 175g (3/4 cup) white sugar 65g (1/2 cup) toasted chopped hazelnuts Directions If you’re toasting your own hazelnuts, chop them and spread them out on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler and monitor them for 5-10 minutes until they start …

Swedish Cinnamon Bun Cake

I clomped down, knocking slush and snow off my boots, and gazed at the display case. What should I choose? Pistachio almond turnover? Croissant? Cookies, pie, cake, brittle? A puffy scone-thing called “dreams”? Perhaps something I’ve never had here before. Blackberry pie—that’s the ticket! And a chokladboll for later. And one of those giant cinnamon buns to take home to Tor. The snow falls ever faster outside, coming down in fat, puffy flakes. The perfect environment for a cozy breakfast. And there’s a corner table available. Café Husaren, in Haga, the historical district of Gothenburg, Sweden, provides a cozy refuge for winter tourists and locals alike. In the summer, the outside is lined with tables, but at this time of year, people hurry in to get warm with a cup of coffee or tea (of which they have one of the city’s largest variety). In addition to a myriad of sweets, they also have quiches, sandwiches, and salads in the afternoon and evening. If small, dainty desserts don’t strike your fancy, they boast världens största …

Zesty Passion Fruit Cheesecake with a Red Velvet Crust

I loved them with a fierceness. Ferociously, constantly, and unconditionally. Tiger and Butterbear. They came to me for my second Christmas, and were my companions for years. I bestowed upon them priority of place and deference of position. Accompanying me everywhere, they enjoyed the sunlight and weathered storms. Butterbear once found herself hanging upside down from Granny’s clothesline, sodden and heavy with washwater. Knowledge of what soiled her is lost to me, banished by the heart-wrenching feelings at seeing her lumpy and dripping wet, upside down on that line. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, there’s conflicting responses: some rail against consumerism, staunchly insisting it’s a manufactured holiday to create profit; others focus on and celebrate the romantic love in their life; and still others recognize and appreciate the various forms love takes. Each of these responses is legitimate and valid, and I’ve found myself with each point of view at one point or other in my life, but I prefer to be in the third camp. No matter the numerous historical origin stories, or the …

Cocoa Rosemary Hazelnut Icebox Pinwheels

Settling myself on the grass, I began laying out my picnic. A man, at least in his fifties, caught my attention. In the process of limbering up for what I assumed would be yoga or tai chi, he commenced undressing, stripping down to tight boxer briefs. This being Paris, I wasn’t too taken aback, and I turned my attention to my food. This was not to be, however, because the man’s stretching was exaggerated to the point of absurdity, and I could not help but think that this was part of some elaborate ruse. I began stealing glances around me to see if anyone else was noticing these surreal happenings. Mesmerized by how even a Frenchman could act like he was completely alone in a public park (and even then, I surmise most people don’t act that ludicrous even when they are alone), I had no idea that it would get oh-so-much better. I was beyond surprised when he began rolling head over heels down the hill, somersault after somersault. Reaching the bottom, he bounced …

Tarte Tatin de Poire

Something heavy beckoned to me from the toe of my Christmas stocking. We had exchanged them early, in hopes we could enjoy our gifts before our trip to the States. What could this solid, heavy object be? I drew it out, and a small jar of jam appeared. Pear, pomegranate, and calvados. Eureka! I use the same pastry here as for my Provençal Butternut Squash Rugelach. With equal parts cream cheese and butter, and richened with crème fraîche and an egg yolk, it gives a flavorful and slightly flaky, yet quickly assembled, alternative to store-bought puff pastry. Ingredients Directions Prepare your pastry by putting the flour in a mixing bowl and adding the butter and cream cheese in small chunks. Pinch the butter and cheese into the flour with your fingertips until it starts to come together. Whisk together the crème fraîche and egg yolk, then add to flour mixture. Toss with your fingertips, then press together until you can form a ball. Remove to a sheet of plastic wrap and form a disk. Stick …

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake & Calvados Anise Weekend Muffins with a Blood-Orange Glaze

“I like the dryness of it,” Tor told me matter-of-factly, as if that should explain everything. “But the dryness is why I made a glaze for my own version!” I retorted. “Well…I like it dry,” he concluded, with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders. I missed a couple weeks of Tuesdays with Dorie, a cookalong group baking their way through Dorie Greenspan‘s new book, Baking Chez Moi. Today I’m jumping back into the swing of things with a review of her Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake. This cake was very nice, though I thought it a bit dry. However, that’s what others may find they like most about it, as evidenced by Tor’s remarks above. I did forego the optional addition of rum, so perhaps the whole thing would have been more moist if I had opted for it; however, I can’t imagine that the brown butter and vanilla flavor—which is what redeemed it, in my opinion—wouldn’t have been overpowered by the rum. I thought it was a bit fussy with the method, …