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For Butter’s Sake! A lament for the lack of good pastries in NYC.

For Butter’s Sake! A lament for the lack of good pastries in NYC.

ARGH! Just freakin’ ARGH!!!

I have had it up to here (*holds hand above head*) with New York bakeries. Seriously. Fed. Up.

Have New Yorkers never tasted a good pastry? Is this because no one in NYC grows up with parents who bake cookies on the weekend or make real cakes from scratch? You’ve never eaten a pastry or frosting made with real butter? You want me to pay $3 for a cookie or $3.50 for a cupcake that barely can be called mediocre and thank you for it?!!? It’s a bakery that only makes cupcakes, so why did I think the cupcakes would actually be good?! Your cookies look gorgeous, so I buy one only to be sorely disappointed by the taste?!

I am ranting, I know and it’s because I am so OVER the New York thing where someone opens a shop that specializes in some darling trendy dessert, where the desserts look lovely, cost a small fortune and are NOT YUMMY! Either they don’t know that pastries can taste better, or they have no pride, or they think all NYC consumers are idiots. Whatever the reason, I am NOT PLEASED.

Ok, so this annoyance has been a long time brewing. I had been struggling to find a good cookie (my go-to when I have a sweet tooth). This cookie plight was recently elevated because cookies in Europe are nothing like American cookies, so after all summer in Europe, a chocolate chip cookie was all I could thing about.

Yes, I can and do make the world’s best chocolate chip peanut butter cookie at home, but if I can do it and it’s not that hard, why can’t a store that specializes in cookies do it?

Back to the story: I was in NYC and jonesing. I figured Magnolia Bakery, of cupcake fame, might have decent cookies, so I stop in. (Magnolia did have a very respectable oatmeal cookie, but their brown sugar cookie was lacking, possibly from too much baking soda.) While I was in there getting cookies, there were samples of a red velvet cupcake with “cream cheese” frosting.

Looks good right? Don’t be fooled.

I tried one and get this:
The frosting was made with shortening!!!

They were charging $3.50 for a tiny little cupcake made with shortening! Maybe there was a tiny bit of cream cheese in there with the frosting, but I know my frostings and I know that it was not made with real butter!! Are you kidding me, Magnolia? You pride yourself on deliciousness and you cannot use real butter? I should have said something to the guy working the counter about my disappointment, but I was too upset to talk rationally with the man.

How does Monica feel about low fat mayonnaise? “It’s NOT mayonnaise!” That’s how I feel about shortening: It’s NOT butter!

I have ranted about the need for making frosting with real butter before, but it obviously bares repeating: butter makes the best frosting. Butter has the same calories and fat content as shortening and tastes a million times better. Butter costs a little more than shortening but who cares? If you are charging $3.50 for a cupcake, you can afford to make it with real butter!!!!!!! If I am going to splurge some calories on a yummy dessert, it had better be yummy. Magnolia, have you no shame?!

This supreme annoyance at Magnolia Bakery has been smoldering for a while. This dessert-related angst resurfaced today when I went into Rocco’s bakery in the West Village to get a cookie. They have this display window laden with all sorts of heavenly-looking cookies that lure you in, thinking that anything that looks that lovely has got to taste good.

Another sneaky bakery that cannot be trusted.

I went in for the praline pecan cookie, but while I was waiting in line I was tempted to go for the trick-or-treat, a “caramel” cookie with bits of Twix in it. I asked the girl at the counter what she thought, and without hesitation she said the trick-or-treat.

I rue my decision to follow her advice. The cookie was subpar. Like Magnolia’s brown sugar cookie, it suffered from too much levening agent. The dough does not taste like caramel in the least, and the texture is meh.  It’s a little bland too, and while I cannot be certain, I don’t think it was made with real butter either because the darn cookie tastes fake. I know I made a last minute switch, but I doubt the pecan praline would have been good either.

And so, I am officially done with New York. How can it possibly call itself the best city in the world if far too many over-priced specialty stores cannot fathom the importance of cooking with real butter? If I overpay for one more mediocre pastry in the stupid city I am going to lose it! Like even more than writing-a-seven-page-rant-about-pastries losing it. It’s insulting to my intelligence, to my taste buds, to Julia Child, and to cookies all over the world.

Butter has been around for thousands of years (no joke). There is a reason: it is delicious. Do not accept substitutes! Gosh, New York!

For shame, New York specialty bakeries. For shame.

So, my dear readers, if you pass by Magnolia or Rocco, I suggest you skip it. And if you happen to know a place that makes awesome pastries, let me know. (But if you like Magnolia’s cupcakes, then we have different standards for pastries, so maybe keep your suggestion to yourself. Sorry for the snark, but I seriously am doubting the New Yorker’s ability to discriminate between what is good and what is expensive). Thanks for tolerating my rant. Or maybe you stopped reading 7 minutes ago.

Teetering on the edge,

It’s about time… for SCHNITZEL!!!

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It’s about time… for SCHNITZEL!!!

I have been in Vienna for over a month now, and somehow I have not written anything about schnitzel?!? How did that happen??!?

Nom nom nom!

Schnitzel is probably the most famous food to come from Austria, next to apple strudel (since, you know, both of them are mentioned in the Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things”). I already talked about strudel, so it is time to show schnitzel some lovin.’ And I love me some good schnitzel.

So when a friend of a friend (Hi Tony! Hi Nate!) was visiting town, I figured it was as good a time as any have a night out at one of the most famous schnitzel places in Vienna: Figlmüller. This place hasn’t changed since 1905! They only serve authentic Viennese food. They don’t even serve beer because it was originally a wine house. Also, I am glad it hasn’t changed in over a century – look how freaking classically awesome it is:

Check out that chandelier. For realz, yo?

Just charming.

And check out this link that explains how they make the schnitzel. It even has a picture of where the meat comes from on the pig.

Now, lots of people make schnitzel in Austria. Duh. But it’s difficult to find a really nice schnitzel – it can be a bland and dry, despite the fact that it’s fried up and oily. Not great. But the schnitzel at Figlmuller is awesome. And serve with their traditional Austria potato salad (I MUST learn how to make this), and some Austrian coleslaw, this schnitzel will blow your mind. Plus, one schnitzel is big enough for two people.  If you order it, make sure you ask for some currant jelly to go with it (it’s kinda like cranberry sauce – yum).

At some point, I will attempt to make schnitzel on my own. But maybe back in the US where I have all my kitchen tools. And it’s not 100 degrees in my tiny little kitchen in my small apartment that lacks air conditioning. We saw what happened last time I tried cooking in the heat in my apartment. Until then, enjoy thinking about eating this:

Nom nom nom! Again!

Jealous? I am jealous of past Rachel that got to eat this and didn’t leave anything for future Rachel.

Mit Liebe,


Well, this is embarrassing…

Posted on
Well, this is embarrassing…

I set out this summer to learn how to make yummy Austrian food. I bought an Austrian cookbook even.

First on my list to make: Linzer Torte. A sweet, nutty pastry crust, almost a shortbread, holds a layer of tangy current jam, covered by a criss-cross of more pastry, sprinkled with sliced almonds and powdered sugar. Sounds good, no?

Though I have not actually tried one, I know what sounds yummy when I hear it, so I figured that I am decent enough baker to undertake this task.

In my head, the results would look like this:Image

Being that I am subletting an apartment for the summer, I forgot about all the loops that one must jump through when learning to bake in a foreign land. Do I have the correct pots? When can I buy ground almonds? How do I say ground almonds? What is the cooking temperature in Celcius? Is the oven I am using true to temperature, or is it off a little bit? Will the fact that I am making a pastry when it’s 90 degrees in my apartment with no air conditioning affect the outcome?

I pondered these all quickly and threw caution to the wind. I mean, how hard could it be, right? It’s like a pie, and I have made about a million pies. No biggy.

Boy was I wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I couldn’t find ground almonds, so I figured I would hand chop mine until they were very fine. I got them pretty small, but never the same texture as buying ground.

I didn’t let the dough chill enough because my refrigerator here was actually pretty spotty on the day.

I swore that I had seen a 9 inch spring form pan in the apartment, but in reality, I had only seen the bottom portion of the spring form pan, but the sides were no where to be found. So I used an 11″ tart pan that had seen better days.

I converted the degrees on the Internet, but this oven is an electric convection oven that is warmer/faster than my oven at home.

I was sweating buckets (not into the dough, mind you). The dough wasn’t properly chilled. The pan was too big. The almonds were too course. This porridge is too hot! That porridge is too cold! Wait… wrong story.

Anyway, when the evening was over, this is what I had made:


At least she tasted good. I doubt she tasted how real linzer torte is supposed to taste, but still, the butter, nuts and jam, it’s hard to go wrong.

I know this picture is going to be all over Pinterest any minute now for being so lovely.

They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Well, let this be a lesson to those 4 people who read my blog: sometimes even bloggers make mistakes. Shocking, I know. I still haven’t bought the correct pan, but when I do, I will try again. Maybe it will be better next time. Maybe I will redeem myself. And maybe not. I guess that’s part of life’s journey.

Yum, right?

Like how I turned this into some greater life lesson even though in reality it was me failing abysmally in the kitchen and throwing a small tantrum?

Mit Liebe,


Passover Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

Passover Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

Passover desserts, with the exception of homemade macaroons and flourless chocolate cake, tend to suck. There’s no way around it. Without real flour, all the substitutes just aren’t up to snuff. They are tough and a little bland usually. Takes a lot of mastication and even more wine to make them truly palatable.

Now, these aren’t as good as the non-Passover version (the one with real oats), but gosh darn it! They come pretty darn close. And I made them up (as far as I know).

By substituting ground up matzo for oats, these cookies are kosher for Passover (dairy) and quite tasty. They make a great addition to any Seder, or just make a fun snack to eat during the celebration of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.

The Recipe:

Cover two cookie sheets with wax paper to prepare.

In food processor, pulse about 8-10 sheets of matzo until it’s about the texture of oats. You need 3 cups of matzo crumbs.

In heavy sauce pan, bring to a boil:

2 cups sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 stick butter (unsalted)

Let boil for about 90 seconds. Turn off the heat.

Then stir in:

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup of peanut butter

The three cups of matzo crumbs.

Once all stirred up and slightly cooled (after two or three minutes), put heaping teaspoons of the mix onto waxed paper. Let cool until hardened.

Happy Pesach!


Spicy Chipotle Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Spicy Chipotle Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I started this blog because I wanted a creative outlet. A place to share my cooking, painting, and decorating, all with a dash of neurosis. A place away from the competitive grind of law school and my masters program.

I started this blog because I needed a judgment-free space to be me.

And then something happened.

I started judging myself based on the number of hits on each post. I started judging myself on how many “likes” I received. I would check my site states incessantly to see if today’s post beat yesterday’s post. I worried if my new craft project was really blog-worthy.

The blog I created as a creative outlet started becoming a new source of stress.

It’s like that time when I started playing Words with Friends because Scrabble is fun. But within a few weeks I started using one of those cheating apps that tells you your best words because it was too upsetting and stressful to lose. It took me a while to realize that I was cheating at Words with Friends. It took me even longer to realize that I wasn’t enjoying playing because my competitive ego got in the way. Really, Rachel? Cheating at Words with Friends? What is WRONG with you?

I don’t want that to happen to my blog. I don’t want Suits and Aprons to be pushed to the wayside because I start competing with myself and competing with others. I mean, why do I even have to compete with other bloggers? They’re all so amazing! And inspiring! Their success does not cheapen my success in anyway.

So I took a step back. I wanted to think about what this blog is supposed to be for me. A happy space full of pretty things that I want to share. Not another forum where I am competing with my peers for the best grades. I REFUSE to let this blog become another law school!

While taking an evaluative step back, and reminding myself that no one cares how many clicks I got on my blog today (I don’t even have advertisements, so it REALLY doesn’t matter), I made my friends some delicious treats.

My friends didn’t judge the treats on whether they would be popular in the blogosphere.

Nope. My friends wolfed them down and asked for more. My friends “liked” my treats by telling me so in person – not simply by clicking something on this webpage. And that felt good. There was no self-doubt about my worth because I have fewer followers than someone else. Or because the pictures I took of these yummy treats don’t do them justice (but I’m getting better at photography with each post, I think. Yay!).

Therefore, I have decided to return to blogging with a renewed sense of purpose. My purpose is not to create content all the time. Not to get as many hits as possible because I spent 12 hours linking up to linky parties (if that’s your thing, more power to you). My purpose is to return to the time when this blog only brought joy. And if people like it, great. And if people don’t like it, well, then they don’t get to eat any Spicy Chipotle Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Oh, and one more thing: I didn’t make this recipe from scratch. I love baking and almost always make everything from scratch. But baking, like blogging, is my Happy Time. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of time in my schedule specifically reserved for Happy Time. So if I need to modify a box of Trader Joe’s truffle brownie mix because I am short on time, then I will darn well do it without any shame!

I am reclaiming my love of baking, crafting, blogging and decorating without any stress or crippling self-judgment! I will make ugly, but delicious, food and post it on the interwebs. I will paint things weird colors. Maybe I will have to paint over them, but hey, that’s part of the fun process! And this blog will no longer be a source of stress – only a place for happy time, and hopefully some love from my fellow creative bloggers.

The Recipe

One box brownie mix (I like TJ’s truffle brownie mix), mixed according to package instructions

One milk chocolate TJ’s truffle bar, cut into little pieces (could use any other chocolate bar really – or even a large handful of chocolate chips)

1-2 teaspoons dried chipotle powder (a little harder to find, but Whole Foods might have this). Cayenne will do in a pinch.

Preheat oven according to brownie box instructions. Make the brownie mix according to package instructions. Mix in the chocolate. Mix in 1 teaspoon of chipotle, and then taste the batter to make sure its not too spicy. Adjust according to your tastes.

Pour batter into cupcake tins, lined with cupcake papers about half-full (or make in pan according to package instructions). I didn’t grease mine and they turned out fine, but I used cupcake papers.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with just a few crumbs/chocolate. Do not overbake.

While baking and cooling, make the frosting.

The Frosting

4 oz cream cheese, at room temp

4 oz butter (1 stick), at room temp

2-3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons milk

2-4 tablespoons cinnamon

With electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add one cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of milk, blending until well combined and fluffy. Add second cup of powdered sugar and enough milk to get a good consistency. You may or may not need to add the third cup of powdered sugar or third tablespoon of milk. Use taste and consistency as your guide. Then add the cinnamon, one tablespoon at a time, blend until well combined and taste after each addition. I like my frosting super cinnamon-y, but again, this is a personal preference.

Only frost the cupcakes once they are completely cooled. Serve.


Spicy non-competitive blogging love,


Relearning to ride a bike… in a Rustic Pear Tart

Relearning to ride a bike… in a Rustic Pear Tart

Sometimes you think you know how to do things. You’ve done them a hundred times, and could even do them with your eyes closed. The way you’ve been doing it has been passing muster. It’s actually pretty good, the way you have being doing it. You get compliments and stuff.

But then, you tweak one or two thing in your habitual process, and the results can, on occasion, BLOW YOUR FREAKING MIND.

That happened to me last night. I have been making fruit pies and pie crust my whole life. I thought I was alright. Some people even thought I was a decent baker. But last night, I made an incredibly simple, phenomenal rustic pear tart. And I relearned everything I ever thought I knew about pie crust. I had been using water straight from the tap, not ice water. I switched to ice water. Also, I have been trying to cut the butter into tiny little pieces when combining it with the flour, but this time, I left it in irregularly sized bits, some were even fairly large. And sometimes, even though I am not supposed to, I add a little more water to the crust than I should because it can make it easier to work with. This time, I didn’t. I used just enough water until the dough held together. You know what? The dough was still pretty easy to work with, even with just enough water.

The result: the flakiest, yummiest, noticeably awesome pie crust that I have ever tasted. Not even the best I have ever made. But the best I have ever tasted.

I think the deliciousness of the crust was even more noticeable because it was paired with super simple pears. Pears and nothing else (except butter and sugar). No cinnamon, no nutmeg, no ginger. Just the lovely taste of two types of pears cooked until perfectly sweet and soft, wrapped in buttery, flaky, slightly salty, golden brown crust. Oh yeah, one more thing: I am ate it warm, with a scoop of Haagen Dazs Salted Caramel Truffle Ice Cream.

Yep. Last night I relearned how to ride a bike. And I may never ride that bike the old way again.

I learned two things from this baking experience. 1. FOLLOW THE RECIPE, carefully, with great attention to details, especially if you are making pie crust. I am YELLING this lesson not my dear readers, but to myself, because when I think about the years of truly stupendous pie crust that I have missed out on because I did not follow the recipe to a T, it makes me cry a little inside.

2. Food does not have to be complicated to be earth-shattering. The simpleness of this tart, the short ingredient list, even it’s rustic form are all an ode to simpler times, and how the simplest flavors can be insanely satisfying.

It’s no wonder that the recipe for this amazingly simple, delicious rustic tart came from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food. This is already my favorite all-time cookbook. But I think it gets elevating to a higher level for reteaching me how to ride a bicycle.



The Recipe, from The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters,  (you really all should buy this cookbook – it may change your life).

Tart and Pie Dough (makes enough for 2 eleven income tarts or one double-crust 9-inch pie)

Have measured: 1/2 cup ice-cold water (put ice-cubes in it. Seriously)

Mix together: 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

and 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

Add 12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) COLD butter, cut into small (1/4 inch) cubes

Cut or work the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips, leaving some of the butter in fairly large, irregular pieces. This will take 1 or 2 minutes. (Or mix for no more than a minute, at medium-low speed, in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.) Pour in three quarters of the water, stirring all the while with a fork until the dough begins to form clumps. (In the mixer, turn the speed to low and pour the water down the sides of the bowl, mixing for 30 seconds or less.) Keep adding water if needed. Divide the dough in two, bring each part together into a ball, and wrap each ball in plastic. Compress each ball, and then flatten them into disks. Let rest, refrigerated, for 1 hour or longer. Before using in the tart, let dough warm up a little outside of the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so.

To Make the Tart

Preheat the oven to 400F and put the rack at the lowest level.

When working with the dough, use your fingertips, not the palms of your hands. Your fingertips have less heat and will not melt the butter as much. Work quickly.

Take one ball of dough (the tart only uses one – you can make two tarts, or freeze the other dough for another use later) and flatten it into a disk with your hands. Seal up any cracks that form along the edges.

Place on a lightly floured surface, and roll out the dough into a circle. Roll until the dough is a little less than 1/8 of an inch thick. To move, fold the dough carefully into quarters. Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment (I didn’t have parchment, so I skipped this part).

Peel and slice about 1/4 of an inch thick: three medium-large pears. I used two bosc and one bartlett.

Arrange the pears in a concentric circle on the tart crust, leaving about an inch uncovered at the edges. The pears should be a little less than 2 layers deep. Fold the edges of the pastry over the pears.

Melt: Three tablespoons butter

Brush the folder dough border generously with butter and then pat the tops of the pears with the rest (use it all).

Sprinkle the pears and crust with 3 tablespoons sugar.

Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on the bottom. Slide off the pan and cool on a rack.

Note: This can be made with apples or pears.

Second note: This thing is awesome with ice cream or whipped cream.

Award-Winning* Turkey OR Vegetarian Chili

Award-Winning* Turkey OR Vegetarian Chili

O. M. G. It’s finally here: SPRING BREAK. I got done with class today at about 7pm after having a majorly ridiculous week. Ridiculous.

First thing I did: poured a glass of wine and got out my spray paint. I am not even coming close to kidding. The warm weather means that I can finally resume my spray painting obsession. And you, my lovely, lucky readers, will soon be rewarded by getting to see what I am spray painting and upholstering (that’s right: I also got out my staple gun. It goes lovely with a Bordeaux.).

In the meantime, while it’s still cool at night, I want to share with you all a very special thing: my chili recipe. This chili is pretty darned awesome. It (almost) won two chili cook-offs. *I know I almost won because my friends were in charge of tallying the votes. I believe I was two votes shy of the title, and suffered due to poor placement in the chili line-up. I ended up right in the middle of the chili line – people’s plates were already full by the time they got to mine. I think I missed out on some chili tasters that way. Sigh.

OK, enough of my whining about how I didn’t win the two chili cook-offs (I was robbed). Now it’s time for me to share this awesome-sauce chili recipe that I invented. It goes equally as well veggie as with turkey (it might actually be even better as a veggie chili recipe). It’s low-fat, but you would never know it, full of vegetables and lots of fiber. Topped with a dollop of sour cream and some diced red onions or jalapenos, it is downright fantabulous!

Recipe Follows:

1 package of firm or extra-firm tofu, frozen for at least one night and then defrosted, OR approx. 1.25 lbs lean ground turkey

1 large onion, diced

2 teaspoons salt

1 and 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 or 4 gloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon roasted chipotle powder (this can be a little tricky to find, but they have it at Mexican grocery stores, and maybe at Whole Foods – it’s worth looking; the smoky zing of this spice is amazing). If you cannot find this, you can substitute with cayenne and chili, to your liking.

2 teaspoons chili powder (if you are scared of spice, start with one, add the other to taste)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 can (32oz) diced tomatoes AND 1 can (16oz) diced tomatoes

2 cans (16oz) black beans

2 cans (16oz) pinto beans

2 cans (16oz) kidney beans

2 cans (16oz) canned corn, no salt added

2 or 3 tablespoons sugar, to taste

Heat one or two tablespoons of oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cook for a few minutes until just starting to turn translucent. Then, if you are making a turkey chili, add the turkey to the pot. While the meat is cooking, add the salt, cinnamon, garlic, chipotle, cumin, chili powder and cayenne. Continue cooking until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Add the diced bell peppers and cook for two minutes. Then add the tomatoes.

If making this a vegetarian chili, let the onions cook until just before they are translucent. Add the bell peppers and cook for two minutes. Add the tomatoes, then add the spices. While the tomatoes are simmering, crumble the once-frozen-now-thawed tofu into the pan. You want the tofu to get into little pieces, and the freezing makes the texture perfect for chili.

Now add all the cans of beans. Once heated through, add the canned corn. Add the sugar to taste. It’s more delicious when it has a hint of sweetness. At this point, you can add more spices to taste. I find I often add a little more cumin and a little more chipotle. Those ones are my favorite. Let heat for another 5 or 10 minutes on low heat to let the flavors meld.

Serve warm, with a dollop of sour cream, and if you like, cheddar cheese and chopped jalapenos.

Makes a lot of servings. Like 7 or 8, plus some for the freezer. It may even be more delicious the second day.




Linkin’ On Up:

Happy Hour Projects

Somewhat SImple

Beyond the Picket Fence

My Romantic Home

Carmelized Banana Upside Down Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream

Carmelized Banana Upside Down Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream

Yeah. You guessed it. I got this recipe from Julie over at Willow Bird Baking. Again, she hits it out of the ball park. And again, her pictures gave my pictures a wedgie, stole my pictures’ lunch money and then slammed my pictures up against a locker while the cool kids laughed. So really, if you are skeptical about how delicious this thing actually can look, check out her site.

This upside down cake is amazing. It has a little party in my mouth. Seriously, there are strobe lights, techno music and even bouncers going on in my mouth when I eat this thing.

The caramelized bananas have ginger in them, which give just enough zing to make this cake really interesting. Then, you top each delightful slice with cool coconut whipped cream, and sweet, lightly browned coconut flakes that add a delightful crunch. OMG. This thing is divine. Men-in-tight-shiny-shirts-party divine.

Really, the coconut cream takes things to a whole new level when combined with the ginger.

I was going to type out the recipe here, but honestly, you should go get it from Willow Bird Baking. She’s kinda amazing!

The only thing I will say to change her recipe is that letting this rest in the pan for more than 5 minutes is fine. I took it out at 7 minutes, and it was still too soft and turned kinda messy. You could probably let it sit for about 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan.

Let me know if you love this thing as much as I do!



Party Time!

Bacon Time

Somewhat Simple

Shabby Creek Cottage

Beyond the Picket Fence

Drool-worthy Carrot Cake

If given a choice between cake and pie, I generally chose pie. Given a choice between cake or a cookie, I usually chose the cookie. The thing is, cake is not my favorite dessert. I find it’s usually too dry or has frosting made of shortening (shortening has just as many calories as butter or cream cheese, and butter/cream cheese tastes a million times better, people! Demand the real thing!)

I am salivating while looking at this. Quite literally.

But you put a carrot cake in front of me? Well, just watch your hands and fingers!

I freaking love carrot cake. Even a bad carrot cake is still good. And this recipe is the best carrot cake I have ever eaten! As a carrot cake connoisseur, I consider myself a pretty good judge of carrot cake. So trust.

That's my grandmother's silver cake plate. It's not quite level, but I think it's lovely.

I have given this a lot of thought: why I like carrot cake a TON but am not so fond of regular cake.

First, carrot cake is always moist. The carrots keep things from drying out. Too many cakes are too dry. This recipe also has crushed pineapple AND golden raisins, which keep this cake dense and (dare I say it?) juicy. Seriously, it’s beyond moist.

Second, carrot cake comes with cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting makes my heart flutter. And it makes cake phenomenal. My cream cheese frosting involves both cream cheese and real butter. Many people have never actually had real butter cream or real cream cheese frosting because many store bought cakes make their frosting with a shortening base. Yuck. It’s that waxy bright-white crap. Not good. And canned frosting also is not real butter.  Frosting is REALLY easy to make, and when homemade it’s ALWAYS more delicious than store bought. So please, take the time to make your own frosting. You won’t be sorry. OK. End of my fake-frosting rant.

Covered in rich cream cheese frosting.

3. It’s generally not sickly sweet. Much of the sweetness comes from the carrots, raisins and pineapple.

4. It’s got veggies in it, so it’s good for you, right? (Just let me have this one, ok?)

This is the same recipe that we used for my brother’s wedding cake. It was awesome then, and it’s awesome now.

My brother's wedding cake with antique heirloom cake topper from my grandma.

Make this cake. It’s not difficult, and it’s sublime.

I know you want to.

Drool-Worthy Carrot Cake Recipe

Adapted from Out of Our Kitchen Closets: San Francisco Gay Jewish Cooking

You will need:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups of carrots, peeled and grated

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup crushed pineapple

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (I prefer pecans)

The Steps

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 or 10 inch cake pans. (The cake in the picture is actually a 3 layer cake. I made 1 and a half recipes to make three layers).

2. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

3. To the flour mixture add the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar. Beat until well blended.

4. Fold in the carrots, raisins, pecans and pineapple.

5. Pour into pans and bake for 25-35 minutes. Begin testing at 25 minutes because ovens are different (my oven is crazy and I can never tell how long something will need to actually bake for, so I check it a lot). Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

The Frosting

You will need:

8oz softened cream cheese (room temp)

8 oz softened butter (two sticks at room temp)

1 teaspoon vanilla

About 3 cups of powdered sugar

1 to 3 tablespoons of milk

The Steps

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until well-blended and whipped. Then add two cups of powdered sugar. Add a tablespoon of milk and blend. Keeping adding milk and sugar only as necessary until the frosting is the desired level of sweetness and the desired level of spreadability. I never have an exact science for this. It’s more of a feeling that you develop over time, but it’s fairly easy to do. If you end up with something too runny, add more sugar. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk.

Frost that cake. Cut yourself a huge slice. Enjoy!

Dog's eye view of the cake.



I am taking this cake to these parties:

Somewhat Simple

The Shabby Creek Cottage

Happy Hour Projects

Beyond the Picket Fence

Awesome Cinnamon Rolls

Awesome Cinnamon Rolls

My friend Molly and I love cinnamon rolls. No. I don’t think you get it. We. LOVE. Cinnamon. Rolls.

One summer, we both worked in SF, our BART stop was Montgomery. Right by the BART station, there was this place that made incredible fresh cinnamon rolls. We used to go there maybe once a week in the morning before heading off to our separate internships. It was sublime – WAAAAAY better than anything like you get at Cinnabon.


But then, we were hooked. Like, once you’ve had a really good warm, gooey, sweet, cinnamon-y, delightful roll, you cannot go back to what some places pass off as cinnamon rolls, but are not.

Since that summer, we have literally gone on multiple hunting missions to find yummy cinnamon rolls. We never came back with anything like what they sold at that place by the Montgomery BART. It was so disappointing, because when you want a cinnamon roll, nothing short of a cinnamon roll will do.

Every now and then, I will IM Molly, talking about how I could really use a cinnamon roll. Then we both end up with distracting cinnamon roll cravings, 3000 miles apart. We usually accept our fate that our cravings will go unmet.

But not this time. NOT. THIS. TIME.

I was blog-surfing and checked out Sew Dang Cute Crafts, who had JUST COMPLETED A CINNAMON ROLL RECIPE TEST!!! Sew Dang had baked hundreds of the blessed things to find the best recipe. And then told us how we could skip to the cinnamon roll holy-land without doing all the leg work ourselves. Hallelujah!! I then mosied over to the winning recipe at Pioneer Woman’s blog. I sent Molly a link to the recipe, and then promised myself to make them that weekend. And then eat them. And then blog them. And I did. All was right in the world…

These rolls were AWESOME! Like, I may or may not have licked the pan to get every last morsel out of there. These were sweet, gooey, cinnamon-y, warm, dense, but still light, melt-in-your-mouth awesomeness in a pan. And, they really weren’t that difficult to make. So freaking worth it.

Two things I may change the next time I make them: 1. I will put fewer rolls in each pan. Pioneer Woman warned me about that, but I didn’t listen. That wasn’t a huge mistake though, it just meant the glaze layer didn’t cover as it should. 2. I may use a cream cheese frosting instead of the maple glaze. I liked the maple glaze, but it was a little sweet. Besides, anyone who reads my blog knows just how I feel about cream cheese frosting.

Oh, and I guess a third thing: I halved the recipe, thinking to myself, who on earth would need 7 pans of cinnamon rolls? But ladies and gentlemen, I regret halving that recipe. My thighs may be thankful, and my arteries too, but nonetheless, one of the dumbest decisions of my life. Within 30 minutes of the things coming out of the over, I had already fed a whole pan to my various grad student neighbors. Then I took the other pan with me to NYC for the weekend for the boyfriend. Boyfriend was a happy camper.

I only wish that Molly could have been there to partake in the cinnamon-roll goodness.

So Molly, this one’s for you. And next time we are in the same place, we are making ourselves some cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon roll-y love,