nothing short of perfect torte

There is nothing like a good torte–the thick, smooth chocolate dances on the border of cake and heaven. I paired this dense cake with a homemade almond whipped cream and fresh raspberries, which adds a light, refreshing flavor. The cake takes a little extra work, but it is well worth it especially if you are a chocolate lover–and who isn’t? Top with berries to make for an impressive summer dessert.

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bean there done that

In these cupcake crazed times, more and more outrageous and unique flavors have made their way onto our tables. The last thing you’ll see these days is a plain old vanilla cupcake. A classic, this recipe amps up the flavor with real vanilla bean and an unmatched smooth, fluffy texture. I enjoyed splitting my first vanilla bean and scraping out the hundreds of little black beans–if ever you were able to say “made from scratch” this would be it. But don’t worry, its a pretty simple recipe and makes the most beautiful consistency of batter (I wouldn’t know about the batter flavor or anything since you’re not supposed to eat it or whatever but I bet it’s really stinkin’ awesome…or something). I also tried the two-toned icing technique for the first time, and will include whatever helpful hints I can offer if you would like to try it out. Enjoy!

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‘C’ is for cupcake?

I had seen these cute little cookie monster cupcakes around on the internet, done in various shades of blue with different techniques for the eyes and fur. I knew I had to take a shot at them after stumbling upon what I can only describe as a stroke of maddness genius–a cupcake with a cookie dough center. Yes, it’s true. These are simple and can be made even simpler if you choose to use store bought cookie dough and box cake mix (and I assure you that there is no shame in that). The cupcakes actually cook with the dough inside, and the key is to follow the instructions down to the commas because if you under freeze the dough, the result will be a dry or possibly cooked cookie center. Great for kids, a coworker told me how excited his son was when he bit in to the cupcake to find that the cookie monster had eaten a cookie– it was in his belly!

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all between the buns

This is the burger you probably made in your teenage years (or yesterday…)  but all dressed up. I know I always liked to throw some Doritos on top of my sandwich when mom wasn’t looking. With chips on top of the burger there’s no need for a side because all you need is between the buns–get it? This is the simplest burger and quick to make with just 5 main ingredients. I won’t lie to you, its a messy beast to eat but I’m not too proud to get my hands dirty for a great tasting burger like this one. Just make sure to bring the napkins. And maybe some watermelon.

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holy cow!

It’s Cinco de Mayo! My husband and I went out yesterday to our favorite Mexican restaurant and enjoyed some delicious food and live Mariachi band in honor of the holiday. That left me in the mood to celebrate further–and what better way to celebrate than with a decadent dessert in cupcake form? Tres Leches cake is popular for its dense, milk soaked cake and light, whipped icing. The recipes vary far and wide, some including alcohol, some with variations on the type of milk used. I liked this one because it kicked it up with a kick of coconut and pecans. They might just leave you wishing to celebrate seis-siete-and-ocho de Mayo!

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an elephant never forgets

My husband and I spent a month in Mozambique, Africa on a mission trip. We visited the poorest of villages as well as more “Americanized” cities. In the more developed areas, the big thing was internet cafes. And if you were up for a snack, these beautiful little treats were everywhere–elephant ears. They are delicious, flaky pastry cookies (also known as French palmiers) that in my opinion, are best served a la Africa—with a cold bottle of ‘Fanta Ananas’ (Pineapple Fanta).  But feel free to enjoy them however you please. And you surely won’t forget these cookies, both for their perfectly sweet flavor and the incredibly basic 2 ingredient recipe.

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Here, honey!

This isn’t the kind of sandwich your mom sent with you in a brown bag for lunch time. This is a crisp, sweet, creamy, sticky masterpiece; our rendition of a sandwich we first tasted at one of our favorite restaurants, the Gelato Company. It’s low budget, high flavor and is everything you could ask for on a spring or summer day. You might even whip out the old picnic basket.

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