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Brooklyn in August | Birthday Trapeze Edition

Thank you everyone for all of the birthday wishes, and thank you especially for making my tribute post to my mom one of my most popular posts to date.  It figures, right?

I celebrated over the weekend in Brooklyn with Kayte and Melissa – my BFF’s that had the nerve to flee Boston for NYC within a year of each other and leave me behind.  Fortunately I manage regular visits.  Friday night we had a supper of takeout tacos, no bake cookies birthday “cake”, and my cocktail of choice (G&T, in case I need to say it).

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Chocolate Chip Castle Cake

I wanted to make a cake for a coworker’s birthday, and a chocolate chip cake just seemed appropriately fun.  And since I was going for fun, I also decided to go with my much-neglected castle Bundt pan. 

Bundts have so much to offer visually, before you even get to the taste.

You don’t cover these babies with frosting.  You glaze.  You ganache.  You dust.

And then, if your cake is a castle, you add some flair. 

Would you enjoy entering your office and being greeted by THIS on your birthday?

Chuck was! 

The almond extract in this recipe is absolutely noticeable (heads up, non-almond lovers) and lends a grownup flavor to what is otherwise a very simple, dense, and delicious yellow cake, studded with chocolate chips.

Covering the cake with the chocolate glaze adds polish and texture, and the dusting of powdered sugar covers up any blemishes – like the crack I accidentally put in mine when I tipped it out of the pan improperly.  The cake basically wore a girdle of plastic wrap overnight to keep it together…but you’d never know that, would you you?

You know…unless I told you?

Oh well.  This is a place of honesty.

Happy Birthday, Chuck!

Click for the full recipe

Mocha Love

Like many of you, I love my coffee.  My romance with coffee deepened from flirting to IN A RELATIONSHIP in 2004 when I moved to Edinburgh for 6 months and got a job at a cafe. I drank cup, after cup, after cup and infused my bloodstream with sweet, delicious caffeine.  It’s been a pleasant part of my day ever since.

Notice how I didn’t say “morning”?  I don’t restrict coffee to one part of the day.

Another favorite concoction at the cafe was a Mocha.  This was basically a latte with a generous ladle of warmed chocolate, topped with whipped cream.  I am not so into chocolate, but the coffee and chocolate union is something else. Something I wanted to taste yesterday, on top of a cupcake.

Any combination of chocolate and coffee is often classified as “mocha”.  The name comes from the Red Sea coastal town of Mocha, Yemen – which was a dominant exporter of coffee from the 15th to 17th centuries.  These coffees had a chocolate-y taste, so mocha became a term for anything that combined the two flavors.

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday and I spent it with him at Rye Beach on the NH coast.  Per recent tradition, I also made his birthday cupcakes.  This year I made shortcut (box mix) vanilla cupcakes with seedless raspberry jam filling and mocha buttercream frosting.

(PS…that is John’s man-hand, not mine)

The frosting was a stick of soft butter mixed with around 6 teaspoons of black coffee and a couple of heaped teaspoons of dutch cocoa…and then I added confectionary sugar until it was the consistency I wanted.  This is how you make frosting at the beach with no mixer and no idea where the measuring cups or spoons are…basically frosting is foolproof if you stop often to stick your finger in to taste it…which I did.  A lot.

Happy Birthday, Dad!