I have what some may call an addiction to peanut butter. I import incredible quantities of Trader Joe’s peanut butter (only one ingredient: peanuts!) every time I return from the US. And I put in requests from everyone who visits me.
I think the only thing I like better than peanut butter is peanut butter with chocolate. My favorite indulgence as a child was peanut-butter & nutella sandwiches. Who am I kidding – it’s still my favorite indulgence! I just indulge slightly less frequently.
So when I got the new Baked cookbook and there’s a whole section on baking with peanuts and peanut butter, I had to make their chocolate peanut butter cake.
It is amazing.
I was looking for a simple cake to offset some of the more elaborate confections I made for my birthday party. This one, a simple vanilla Bundt cake with malted milk powder as a secret ingredient, was just the one. It was a huge hit, with the flavor depth curtesy of the malted milk powder, the crumb, and the vanilla glaze…
It goes well with ice cream, with whipped cream, with fresh fruit or just by itself. It can be a dessert, but also a coffee cake for an afternoon tea.
I had a huge dilemma recently. I was hosting a birthday party for myself and wanted to bake all of my favorite things. But that’s just too many things to bake… because people wouldn’t be able to eat that much! So after much consulting, considering, and mouth-watering cookbook perusing, I decided on just four cakes. And this one, of course, made the cut.
I’d made this one a year ago. It was my first cake from the Baked cookbook and it took me literally all day to make. And I made it for a dinner at a friend’s house, so it ended up being a lot of cake for just 4 people. I mean – a lot of cake. This time, it took me much less time to make, but it’s still a time investment. Which is well worth it.
In an attempt to both improve my French and learn fancy pastry technique, I signed up for a pastry class earlier this year. It was a double success. I understood by far the vast majority of the chat – including jokes! – and learned how to make traditional Belgian pastry (the special cake they make for King’s Day) and all kinds of pastries I drool over in the bakeries.
Everyone at school looked forward to the Tuesday after my pastry classes…
One of my favorites was a delicate white chocolate mousse with citrus (zest and juice) which was so slight and refreshing – and beautiful! You make it in a stainless steel circular ‘pan’ with no bottom (‘cercle inox‘ in French). And the secret is to freeze it for a couple of hours (or overnight) before unmolding it so you get a beautiful mousse finish which looks super professional.
Sometimes you plan on making a dessert for a specific occasion and then something comes up. The dessert doesn’t get made, but the desire to make that dessert stays strong.
This happened with these coffee cakes. I thought they would make the perfect little snack when we had company recently, but the weekend was full of food and these perfect cakes didn’t get made. Which was a shame. Until this past weekend, when I decided that even though I said I would bring dessert to a friend’s dinner party, I would bring these. Coffee cake doesn’t only need to be served in the afternoon. It can also be served after dinner with coffee.
Last year a very good friend hosted a good-bye party and I volunteered for cake duty. She had two requests: red velvet cake and something with poppy seeds. Everywhere I looked for a good poppy seed cake recipe, I came across the same combination of poppy seed and lemon: lemon poppy seed muffins, lemon poppy seed coffee cake, lemon poppy seed cupcakes, etc, etc, etc. When I came across this recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook, I was intrigued by the illustration, the method, and the combination of lemon poppy seed with an orange glaze.
(Yes, Mollie Katzen handwrote the entire cookbook!)
She loved the cake. I have to say, I was more enamored with the Red Hot Red Velvet cake which was at the same event. I had the obligatory piece of this cake, but it didn’t leave much of an impression.
But yesterday, I was in the mood to make a Bundt cake, so I came back. And it was much better than I remembered! Super moist, super poppy seed-y, super citrus-y. Definitely a keeper.
When it’s rhubarb season I can’t resist buying a bunch of rhubarb every time I see it. So I have a lot of rhubarb in my fridge for a couple of weeks. Which means I need to make a lot of rhubarb dishes.
I’d already made my favorite rhubarb lemon bundt cake. And my favorite rhubarb ginger coffee cake. So it was time to try a new recipe.
And then the stars aligned. I found dried hibiscus flowers at an exotic stall at the local market. And I happened to have fine corn flour in the fridge and corn meal in the pantry. And I had a party coming up. The perfect combination for corn-rhubarb tartlets.
I try to be a culturally sensitive tourist when I travel around. And one of my main strategies for doing that is sampling – and re-sampling – local cuisine. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I especially enjoy trying out local desserts.
It’s not sufficient to just taste delicious goods while in an exotic location, I also want to be able to make the dessert when I get home! So I also always look for a cookbook.
Last April we spent two weeks in Belize. We traveled by public bus. On a national holiday. Which basically meant we spent most of the day waiting at the bus depot in the capital city. Where the main delight was powder buns. Which are delicious. So of course I needed to get the recipe.
Everyone has shortcomings and failings. One of mine is definitely an inability to cut back on the amount and variety of food I prepare for parties. Thanksgiving is definitely my worst offender.
I have been known to make 8 different pies.
For a group of 12 people.
That wouldn’t be so bad if pie was the only thing I was serving. But I also go overboard with biscuits, cornbread, stuffing, dressing, vegetable sides, cranberry sauce, turkey (of course), and the list goes on.
But this isn’t a post about Thanksgiving. This is a post about how a friend who is a regular Thanksgiving guest requested my sweet potato biscuits as part of my May Day brunch. He thought they’d taste fantastic with bacon and maple syrup. He figured that’s the kind of thing Americans eat for brunch.
So I brought out what I think of as a fall dish, a dinner dish, a Thanksgiving dish for a spring brunch. And, just like at Thanksgiving, everyone loved them. They were gone in a flash.