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Angela’s Birthday Cake

24 Jun

Everyone should have a birthday cake, especially friends as wonderful as Angie. I have been obsessed with ombré cakes for a while now.   I played with the effect on Nancy’s cake, but I have been wanting to do a simple, modern version.  Angie’s birthday was the perfect occasion.

As luck would have it, baking Angie’s cake coincided with the end of strawberry season.   On the last day of the season Martin, Bella and I spent a morning at Johnson’s Farm picking hundreds of jewel-like berries, and sugar snap peas and early cherries and peaches.   Some of the strawberries ended up in this cake along with some of the last rhubarb of the season.

Vanilla Cake, vanilla buttercream and strawberry rhubarb compote – the same combination I used in my own birthday cake.   Happy Birthday Angie!

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Happy Birthday to Me!

10 May

My birthday was almost a month ago.   30 days to celebrate turning 30.  Every weekend for the past 4 weeks or so has had a portion of a day dedicated to celebrating with different friends and family, in Cayman and here in Philadelphia.  Dinners, balloons and champagne.  A gloriously massive chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache, cookies, lemon cake and more.

To cap off the birthday month I made a cake of my own. A cake to celebrate my birthday, a day I share with Joey Lawrence and my dear friend Drea.    Drea and I share a great many things: a birthday, a middle name and a love of Terry Gross to name a few.  Drea loves fruit in her desserts, I love a layer cake.  We both love Mexican dresses – our 2012 birthday cake was born.

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Mousseline Buttercream and Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.

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Cream Puffs & Eclairs

3 Apr

Pâte à Choux is a miraculous dough. One of my favorite things to make.   It is used to make eclairs, cream puffs, profiteroles, cheese puffs and a whole host of other french delicacies, both sweet and savory.   I have a story about eclairs, it is a good one, but I will save it for another time, we are on vacation after all.  I am in Cayman for most of the next month.  I will be cooking, eating, fishing, picking, shopping and learning, documenting it all.  Until the first post about our time here I will leave you with some cream puffs and eclairs.    Continue reading

Red Velvet Cake

25 Feb

We have one corner cabinet in our kitchen that is dedicated to the vast majority of our kitchen tools.  Skillets, pots, tart molds, cast iron pans, pie plates, cake pans, cooling racks, a kitchen aid mixer and accessories, a wok  and sheet pans all live in haphazard piles, rejecting my attempts to create any kind of  “system”.    Every time  I reach for anything more specialized than my 9 inch skillet there is the inevitable shuffling, re-positioning, balancing and praying that everything just.stays.put.  And somehow, my smallest cake pan, the 4 inch-er, is always inside, on top of, or leaning against the tool I need.  I have never used that 4 inch pan, I think about it a lot, but I have never had occasion to use it.

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Orange Key Lime Bars

10 Jan

I  intended to make key lime bars.   There were at least 20 little limes in the bag that I bought.  I over-estimated the amount of juice I would get out of each tiny lime.  The crust was already made and cooling, the condensed milk opened and I needed just a little more juice.  The juice from one orange made up the difference.  It turns out that the orange juice was much more than just a stand in. The juice lends a complex, floral note to the custard and the tiny strands of orange and green zest that thread through the bars are very pretty.  You can use this recipe to make a pie, just form and bake it in a pie plate. And if you have enough key limes on hand, feel free to omit the orange juice.

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When life hands you chocolate cake crumbs…

7 Dec

Make chocolate pudding.  And layer it all together in a pretty glass.  Devour.

This morning’s post detailed the many attempts it took to make a simple chocolate cake.  The fist cake was delicious but came out in scraps.  I was still in good mood (I had yet to mess up the second cake), so I made a batch of chocolate pudding.  Voilà!  A Chocolate Parfait!

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Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

25 Nov

Two things: 1.  I LOVE pumpkin pie.  2.  I may love this pumpkin creme brûlée more.  As I have mentioned before, I am a Thanksgiving purist.  I don’t like to mess around with the classic dishes; they are classic for a reason.  And for me, the most classic of Thanksgiving desserts is the Pumpkin Pie.  So, it was with some anxiety that I decided to stray from my darling Pumpkin Pie  and make this Pumpkin Creme Brûlée for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was pretty great;  a rich, smooth custard topped with a crunchy, glistening layer of caramelized sugar.  The whole dessert feels special, is beautiful and honors the season.  While it certainly hasn’t replaced Pumpkin Pie, it has earned a place on the short list of go-to holiday desserts.

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