Coconut! Cardamom?

I had a food fantasy yesterday, in the middle of my Monday workday.  My fantasy involved four things: me, my uber comfy Santa pajamas, a bowl of made-by-me ice cream, and my electric blanket.  I fantasized all the way home and skipped dinner to get my ice cream going.  I had all the fixins for coconut cardamom ice cream so  I thought I’d give it a go.  I like cardamom ice cream!  At least, that’s what I told myself… for as long as I could.

Read more

A Cookie We Can Believe In

Never had I had any desire to write about a politician, let alone believe in one.  Don’t fret, I won’t stand on my soap box and bore you with my enthusiasm for Barack Obama.  Just understand, that I believe, in my politically cynical yet paradoxically hopeful heart, that Mr Obama represents a necessary change for our great country.  I believe in his ability to lead us into a better future.  I truly do.  I like him so much, I made him cookies.  Since the man and I are separated by geography as he campaigns, I took the cookies down to his campaign office where volunteers greeted us with open arms.  I know… radical political activism.

Note:  You can make these sugar cookies for any presidential candidate of your choice.  They’ll taste just as good!

Read more

Whole Orange Bundt Cake with Poppy Seed Madness

This is one of the recipes in my collection that invariably makes me raise one eyebrow in suspicion.  It’s a Bundt cake that’s is not only flavored by orange juice, it’s flavored by the whole darn orange- pulp, pith and peel.  I’ve made this cake twice now.  It not exactly the effortless Bundt cake you might expect. But a dozen eggs, and two pounds of butter later, I think I have figured out it’s little quirks.  Once the little hiccups are managed, this turns out to be a delightful cake with loads of  kick-you-in-the-mouth orange flavor.

Read more

Red is the new Vanilla

These little beauties are the answer to any of life’s little hiccups.  Really.  Say, for example, you fall asleep with a candle burning in the  bedroom of the apartment you share with four other people.  Say, you wake up with the blankets on top of you up in flames… serious flames.  Say, in fear and shock and sleep, you flee your room and  run to your roommate’s room.  You knock furiously.  You knock like your bedroom is on fire, because it is.  You knock, wondering why you’re knocking when your bedroom is on fire. Say, your roommate answers the door is just her underwear, hears your plight through sleepy ears, and follows you in disbelief to your bedroom, which is as you left it, on fire.  Say, your brave roommate tries to help you put out the flames with the  smother technique, using all of your clothes and pillows as fire extinguishers.  It works, no thanks to you.  You were fanning the flames, not smothering them.  Say you and your roommate open your bedroom window and shove the charred remains of your blankets, clothes and pillows out, and watch them drop the three floors to the ground.  How would you thank your brave, kind, talented roommate?  How would you ensure your continued friendship help in future life threatening events?  Red Velvet  Cupcakes.  They work.  I have the friend and the blackened ceiling to prove it.

Read more

Fact: the world is better with bananas

Say you’re a 17 year old girl, and it’s your birthday.  If you can’t have a new car, a cute new boyfriend, or a hassle free day from your parents, what would be next on your list?  Probably, Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes. No?  You’d want one of those super skinny Macbook Airs?  Well let’s say, for the sake of… me, that you’d want Banana Cupcakes.  Let’s just pretend.  These little gems are far better than anything Steve Jobs could design.  Last time I checked, Steve Jobs didn’t make anything that tasted like both banana and chocolate. So… I rest my case.

Read more

Pink Hawaii

I was recently asked to create a Hawaiian themed cake for a girls first birthday.  Children’s theme cakes usually run along a spectrum: from Sesame Street designs to Yo GabbaGabba characters.  I somehow can never find my creative voice in tracing an Elmo onto a cake.  It’s just not my style.  Imagine my excitement in having free reign with a Hawaiian cake!

What I came up with is a three layered devil’s food cake with coconut cream cheese frosting.  The hot pink dye seemed to call out to me, so the cake became a girly pink with toasted coconut dressing up the side.  On top I fashioned a gum paste (and paper) palm tree with shredded coconut sand, gumpaste coconuts and flip flops.  Yea… flip flops.

I’m so pleased with how this cake turned out!  I was able to satisfy the desires of the customer and still create a colorful, hip design.  A little pink Hawaii for one year old Miss Lilly.

Read more


French culinary terms always seem snooty and unapproachable to me.  Mis-en-place is no different, but it’s the concept behind the term that’s important.  Translating into “everything in it’s place” the term has everyday baking signifigance.  Simply stated, in American English, “get all your stuff together before the flour starts flying.”  Soften the butter, get the eggs to room temperature, preheat the oven, measure the flour, leavening, salt, sugar and wet ingredients.  Also have a spatula, towel and greased and floured pan.  When all of that is ready, you know you’ve got all your ingredients in order. You’re not going to find yourself an egg short in the middle of making cake batter.   It’s a helpful trick.  Thank you fancy French culinary people!