Did you watch the Oscars? I like watching the Oscars and Emmys (but generally hate the Grammys). I know the awards shows are always unfortunately long, and pretty boring during some parts, and there are always lots of screw ups because…live television, but it’s kinda fun to see what everyone is wearing, what outlandish and/or political stuff people talk about in their speeches, and see people actually having some personality other than the last character they played. I actually thought this was one of the better Oscars in recent memory. The whole “let’s have an offensive comedian host” thing was getting old, and I think Ellen fit the bill pretty well.
And call me a jerk, but I still cannot stop laughing about the whole Travolta mispronunciation situation and subsequent reactions. It’s hilarious.
Anyway…for the past few years, I’ve noticed a slew of recipes/photos of these little triangle cookies floating around the interwebs during March. Considering I hadn’t the slightest clue what they were, I figured I’d do a little research and test them out. Enter: hamantaschen. Hamantaschen, or Haman’s pockets, are apparently a staple of the Jewish holiday Purim. There’s obviously a lot of meaning and history behind Purim, but from what I gather, there is also much feasting involved. I like feasting. Since I’m no expert on Purim, you should do your own research to learn more. Start here.
Hamantaschen remind me of rugelach in a lot of ways, but the dough is heartier and the cookies are obviously larger. The dough is delicious (uh, hello…butter and cream cheese?) and not too sweet, while also taking enough of a back seat to let whatever filling you choose be the star of the show. And they pack up nicely, which is good because you probably shouldn’t eat them all yourself. But you totally can if you want to. I won’t judge you. It’s Fat Tuesday, so you have the perfect excuse. Continue reading →
I’m just gonna come right out and say it…these DIY thin mints are seriously the best things to come out of my kitchen in a while.
Thin Mints are not even my favorite of the Girl Scout cookie varieties. That gold medal goes to Samoas, which, although I’ve never tried, I am pretty convinced I could never accurately recreate because I love them so much. Why are there only 14 Samoas in a box?! Rude.
This homemade version is surprisingly accurate (can you call a cookie accurate?) but also better than the original. Partially because you’re eating cookies wherein you can pronounce all of the ingredients, but even more so because the chocolate flavor is a bit darker and more intense without becoming too rich or overwhelming. There’s also the teensiest bit of saltiness to balance the chocolate, too. Continue reading →
Last weekend, I made a valentine cake. And it was delicious. I was impressed with myself.
I don’t typically make layer cakes. Mostly because transporting a layer cake is a huge pain-in-the-you-know-what, but also because…I am missing whatever gene is necessary to be a rockstar at fancy cake decorating. I am better at what we’ll call “rustic” cake decorating. My version of rustic cake decorating is 1 part legit creativity and 2 parts preschool-style artwork. I’m totally okay with it. I own it. And oddly, I’m a pretty baller cupcake decorator. It’s weird how that pans out, huh?
See what I did there with my new alphabet cookie cutters? So cheesy.
A few things about this cake:
You should absolutely make your own almond paste. It is SO MUCH TASTIER than the store bought stuff. All you need is almonds, honey, water, and sugar. Here’s a link on how to do it — you can half the recipe and have way more than enough for this cake.
If you want to have a chocolate-almond layer like I did, bake half your batter as stated in the recipe, and then fold 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cocoa powder into the remaining half before you bake. I actually ended up baking about 2/3 of the batter in round one (plain almond) and 1/3 of the batter in round 2 (chocolate-almond). My chocolate layer was much thinner. Which is fine, as I didn’t want to overpower the plain almond layers. If you want an even showing of chocolate-almond and plain almond cake, divide your batter in half.
I baked my cake layers in an 8×8 square pan, and cut the layers in half to make a cake that was 8″ x 4″. If you do this, you’ll need to keep an eye on your cakes as your baking time might be a bit shorter.
For chocolate hearts — melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave, put it in a piping bag or a ziploc bag with one of the corners snipped off, and pipe directly onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. I put mine in the freezer to help them solidify faster.
I also made my own sprinkles. It was fun? But store bought ones are just fine, and probably won’t start disintegrating into the frosting 5 hours after you make it.
According to Molly, this cake is not to be made at any other time of year than Valentine’s Day, but I can’t say that I’ll abide by that rule. It’s too good to wait a full year before making it again!
I added a thin layer of blackberry jam between my layers (in addition to the frosting).
The “frosting” on this cake is actually just whipped cream. It balances the cake out perfectly. Make sure you whip your cream thoroughly enough that it is structurally sound. Also, this means you can’t just leave this cake sitting out for long periods of time, lest your dairy spoil (ew) and whipped cream start to melt/un-whip itself (double ew).
Is banana bread seasonal? Or is it just one of those bread situations that randomly reappears every so often, whenever there are enough over-ripe bananas floating about your kitchen?
Banana bread is weird. It doesn’t feel summery, or fall-ish. It doesn’t identify with any specific occasion or holiday. It doesn’t have a particular vibe about it. It’s just one of those “whenever the time is right” kind of breads. I think of zucchini bread in the same way. Continue reading →