Happy Birthday: A Dessert Retrospective

Had a lot of tasty things made for me for my birthday over the years. This banoffee pie made by a friend of mine last year is definitely in the top five! 

Today’s my birthday! I’m 27, y’all!

I may be a for real grown-up and have been for a few years now, but birthdays still stir up in me a slightly crazed, child-like glee for all things sweet and frosted.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday: A Dessert Retrospective”

Culinary Experiment #6: Chocolate Root Beer Cake

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I almost don’t even need to write a post about this recipe. The photos speak for themselves.

It’s chocolate and root beer. Bubbly, cocoa goodness baked in a cake.

Biting into this dessert, you can’t help but imagine that this cake is the  love-child of a glorious union between a chocolate milk shake and a root beer float.

The combination of chocolate and root beer sounds kind of simple. But there’s a layer of complexity to it that will intrigue most foodies. And that layer is made of brown sugar and allspice.

Not only does that layer deepen and intensify the flavor of the chocolate, it complements the root beer nicely and takes a one-dimensional cake with a cloying soda-pop sweetness and makes it just a touch savory, reminiscent of a spice cake.

That said, it may not be for everyone. And don’t go into making this cake with the expectation that it’ll taste really sweet. You’ll be disappointed…for a little while. And then you’ll keep eating it because the longer it sits the better it gets. And then you’ll share it with your friends and they’ll love it, which somehow makes you love it more too.

That’s what happened to me. I thought it would be just as sweet as one of those grocery store bakery cakes. It’s not. But it doesn’t matter, the flavor of this cake is so rich you fall in love with it anyway.

I don’t have very many notes for this recipe as I ended up following the recipe exactly, as I really wanted to taste this cake in its unadulterated form:

  1. As the recipe notes, the batter will look lumpy. And to prove it, there’s a photo in the slideshow above that shows the batter in all its lumpy glory. Please don’t over-mix the batter just to get it perfectly smooth. You might ruin the texture of the cake that way.
  2. I didn’t have a skewer or a chopstick on hand to poke holes into the cake. I just used a spoon. It worked fine since the longer the cake sits, the more the root beer soaks into the cake. And it will soak all the way through. This is a very moist cake.
  3. Don’t worry if the glaze/icing turns out to be kind of drippy. It’s supposed to be that way. If you want a thicker icing, however, you’ll need to add more confectioner’s sugar. But beware, it might make the icing too sweet. If you want a topping that’s more spreadable, try whipped cream: It’s decorative, non-drippy, and has the right amount of sweetness.

Don’t forget to let me know what you thought of this post and the recipe. I’d love to hear your comments and questions!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

P.S.: I’d like to say thank you to  Jenelle of OneApron.com for posting this recipe!

Culinary Experiment #3: Amy Sedaris’ Vanilla Cupcakes

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I love David Sedaris. And after reading “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” and baking these cupcakes I now also have a newfound appreciation for his actress sister Amy.

They’re not like the ones you’d get from the bakery at your local grocery store. These cupcakes are not “yellow cake” cupcakes. They’re truly vanilla cakes in cupcake form. They’re super moist and fabulous. And I recommend that you also use the mocha icing recipe listed on The Cutting Edge of Ordinary, the blog where I found the recipe for the cupcakes.

The slight bitterness of the cocoa and coffee combination in the icing is a perfect contrast to the sweet vanilla flavor of the cake.

Note: The icing isn’t one of those super fluffy fancy ones you see in cupcake shops these days. It’s got a rustic flatness to it, but it also has a rich, dark chocolate color and a glossy finish that would pair nicely with both classic rainbow sprinkles or the trendy ones that look like pearls. Or you don’t have to have sprinkles at all. Even without sprinkles this icing holds its own.

Some ideas for variations on this recipe:

  1. I’d maybe try to add a white chocolate ganache; as either a filling, icing or drizzle. I like the color contrast between the ganache and the mocha icing. I also just like white chocolate.
  2. I was thinking of using vanilla bean paste, just because I think it would intensify the vanilla flavor and I’m one of those foodies that just loves seeing those little black vanilla bean specks.
  3. I also wonder how it would taste with a citrus element: I thought maybe next time I’d either create a white icing with lemon or orange juice flavors. Or maybe I’d add lemon or orange zest to the cake itself.

I hope you get a chance to try out this recipe. Let me know how it goes for you and comment on this post with with your experiences, questions or ideas on how you’d make this recipe better.

Once you do make these cupcakes, do make sure to enjoy them while watching an Amy Sedaris classic: “Strangers with Candy”. Relax with a group of friends, unwrap a cupcake and just let the comedic magic that is Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert wash over you. You won’t regret it.

Have a lovely day!

P.S.: I’d also like to say thanks to Lisa of The Cutting Edge of Ordinary for posting this recipe.