“St. Patrick’s Day” (Sort-Of) Scones with Cinnamon-Honey Butter

If there’s anything that the British have done right in this world, it would be tea and scones. There’s something about the combination of a warm, buttered scone with a strong cup of tea on a rainy day that makes me feel like I live on the moors or something, you know? But you know, until I own by own castle I’ll have to enjoy my tea and scones in the kitchen like a regular person.

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This recipe has been used by my mom and my grandma for as long as I can remember. Usually it’s dubbed the “St. Patrick’s Day Scones” recipe, but for some reason I have a thing about raisins in my baked goods, so this batch doesn’t contain them. I know, it’s pretty shameful because raisins are a staple of a lot of cookies and things, but there’s just something about the texture that really freaks me out. You could always add them in this recipe if you felt like it, just toss about 1½ cups of them with the flour before the wet ingredients are added and proceed as usual.

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Raspberry Rhubarb Jam from my favorite farm makes an excellent addition here!

This is an excellent base recipe for anything you’d like to add to your scone batter really, whether it’s fruit or chocolate chips, but I also think it’s really nice as is, and becomes the perfect vehicle for jam or this fabulous cinnamon-honey butter. These are drop scones, so no rolling out or cutting is required, it’s about as low maintenance as could be. The tops are brushed with egg and sprinkled with demerara sugar so that they bake up crispy on the outside and tender and buttery on the inside, and I’m literally eating one right now they are so good. Without further ado, let’s bake!!

Makes: 18 to 20 small/ medium sized scones
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20-23 minutes
Total Time: ~45 minutes

Scone Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, very cold
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 egg + 1 tbs milk (for egg wash)
Demerara sugar

Steps

1. Heat your oven to 350ºF. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the butter in small cubes and mix in with your fingers or a pastry blender until it becomes the size of peas and is evenly distributed throughout.

3. Beat your eggs and milk together in a small bowl. Gradually stir into the flour mixture until a dough forms- you can use a spoon to mix at first, but by the end, clean hands are your best chance of fully mixing this dough.

4. Drop scoops of a little less than ½ cup of dough onto baking sheets- leave some room between them, they tend to spread just a little.

5. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tbs milk and brush the top of each scone, then sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.

6. Bake scones for 20-23 minutes until lightly golden. Enjoy with butter, jam, and a cup of tea. (Notice how most of my recipes can be eaten with a cup of tea?)

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Cinnamon-Honey Butter Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks); softened
3 tbs honey
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt

Steps

1. Combine all the above ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until soft and well combined. This is best served room temperature (soft), but can be stored in the fridge.

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Enjoy!! xoxoxoxD

 

 

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Almond Sheet Cake with Your New Favorite Frosting

If you remember from my last post, my dearest friends came to visit from Ireland this week, after 2 and a half years of keeping in contact and it was so lovely. In case you were wondering, I made THE Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese with Pappardelle (recipe here), when they came over and it was a big hit- I find that no one is ever disappointed to have pasta for dinner, you know? The main purpose of their trip, however, was to celebrate Marese’s 60th birthday, so naturally I HAD to make a birthday cake!

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This cake comes from my favorite place in the world, Food52.com, from the ever talented Posie Harwood, whose recipes are legend on the website. I try to mess around with every recipe that doesn’t come from me and add a spin to it, but this cake is so beautiful that I practically followed the recipe as is word-for-word (you can find the original recipe here). This cake has an usual twist in the frosting, but since I tried it I may never look back. It begins with the boiling of milk, salt, and flour together until thick. Yup, you read that right, FLOUR in your frosting. It might sound odd, but the cooking takes away the raw flour taste, and when it’s added to the whipped butter and sugar, it produces a light fluffy frosting with just a hint of almond that might not even make it onto the cake if you “taste test” too many times. I only iced the top of this cake so that it could keep its homemade look, but I can also envision covering this cake in decorations and piping, it’s so versatile!

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The aftermath after round 1 of cake eating!

Enjoy a slice of this cake with a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe just eat all the frosting out of the bowl, I’m not judging! Let’s bake!!

Makes: 1 9×13″ sheet cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 25-30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (depending on how much you decorate)

Cake Ingredients

2¼ cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp almond extract
½ vanilla extract
¾ cup milk
1/3 cup almond flour

Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line your baking dish with parchment paper (or grease thoroughly and flour).

2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside for now.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream together your butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy- and actually wait until it looks pale and whipped, it’s not enough to just wait until they’re incorporated. It should be about 5 minutes.

4. Add in your eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg incorporated before proceeding. Add the almond extract and mix to combine.

5. Measure your milk and add vanilla to it. Next, you will be adding your flour mixture and your milk mixture to the butter mixture, alternating between the two and beginning with the flour. In other words, add your flour mixture in 3 parts, and your milk in 2 parts. Take it slow, you don’t want to be wearing more flour than is in the bowl, and make sure each addition is well mixed before continuing.

6. Once your flour and milk has been added, mix in the almond flour, which adds a nice texture to the cake I thought, plus kept it super moist.

7. Pour your batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is beautifully golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool fully in the pan before frosting.

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Ready for frosting!

Frosting Ingredients

1 cup milk
3 tbs all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ tsp almond extract
½ tsp vanilla extract

Steps

1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the flour, milk, and salt until smooth. Bring the mixture up to medium heat, whisking constantly until it gets thick and bubbles as if it’s just about to boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for around 10 minutes so that it won’t melt the butter in the frosting.

2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together butter, sugar, almond and vanilla extracts until very light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes. Scoop the milk mixture into the butter mixture, 1 spoonful at a time, until the frosting is whipped and pillowy. Spread generously on your cake and feel free to eat the leftovers with a spoon.

Enjoy!! xoxoxox

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Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

In my house growing up, any dish that had shrimp in it was always the first to go. My grandpa used to make gumbo and we would fight over the shrimp until the pot was just sauce and some andouille sausage left, and I have pretty distinct memories of the eight of us demolishing a Costco party-size shrimp cocktail platter in under 10 minutes. We LOVE shrimp. But the other day was one of those rare occasions where no one was home, so I actually got to share a meal with my parents, and do you know what I made? Well I mean, besides the fact that you can see from the title, you can bet that I made shrimp. I jump back and forth on what my favorite way to eat shrimp is, although, there really is no wrong way. But when it’s chilly outside and you’re in the mood for something hearty and cozy, look no further than this recipe. Adapted from this one found in the New York Times, this dish has essentially everything you need- cheesy goodness, a rich, creamy tomato sauce that you can sop up with a toasty piece of bread, and SO much shrimp. Need I say more??

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As an exciting, random sidebar, here’s a fun story! Approximately 2.5 years ago while studying abroad in Florence, I was traveling to Dublin to see my roommate, and it was my first time flying by myself. I’m naturally a nervous traveler/ flyer, so I really needed things to go smoothly, which of course, they DIDN’T.  My flight was delayed 8 HOURS, and upon seeing me approach mental breakdown, two women from Ireland welcomed me to eat lunch with them and to wait out the delay with them. Flash forward to now, we have remained in contact this whole time, and they’re COMING TO NEW YORK!! For their first time ever!! And I get to see them!! What do you make for dinner when very important Irish guests are coming? Really who knows.

BUT back to the point of this post, this meal right here is just waiting to be made by you, so let’s get to it!!

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: ~1 hour

 

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Grits Ingredients

¾ cup grits
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
3 tbs salted butter
Salt

Steps

1. Bring 3½ cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, and add in the grits and salt. Turn the heat down to low and cover, cooking for 15-20 minutes until the water has been completely absorbed and the grits are tender.

2. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter and cheese until fully combined. Cover and keep warm until serving.

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Shrimp Ingredients

4 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil (I like a mix of butter and olive oil for this)
2 onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz. can of diced tomatoes (and the juice)
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
3 tbs flour
1½ lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ to 1 cup chicken stock (or seafood stock if you’ve got it)
2 tbs tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco, several dashes (to taste)
Salt, to taste
Parsley, for garnish

Steps

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic, peppers, and onion. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the Old Bay and bring the whole thing to a simmer. Cook for another 5 minutes.

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2. Sprinkle in the flour and mix to combine. Add in the shrimp and stir constantly as they cook; it should be about 3 minutes, shrimp cook so fast!

3. Add the first ½ cup of stock and let it simmer, then add in the tomato paste and make sure it gets properly mixed in. Stir in the cream, Worcestershire (I will literally never spell this right on the first try), and tabasco, plus more stock as needed to make the sauce thick enough to coat the shrimp but thin enough that it’s spoonable.

4. Heat through entirely (without bringing to a boil), and adjust your seasonings as necessary.

Serve with a generous helping of grits, a sprinkling of parsley, and a toasty piece of bread!

Enjoy!!! xoxoxoxD

 

Triple Berry (Accidental Cherry) Pie

Does anyone else remember that CW show Pushing Daisies? No? Just me? For those of you that don’t think about it every day as I do, it was the BEST show about a pie maker who could also wake dead people and help solve mysteries, plus it had Lee Pace and Kristen Chenoweth need I say more?? It sounds insane to type but I promise it’s so good, and so beautifully filmed and ALSO free to everyone on the CW website so 10/10 would recommend watching. Tragically, it was cancelled after two seasons, but that won’t stop me from repeatedly watching those two seasons and dreaming of passionfruit upside down pie or pear pie with gruyere baked into the crust- a strange combo but I am INTERESTED.

This is also my segue into today’s recipe for this beautiful pie- I got my baking start in pie actually, my first real responsibility for family holidays was to bake the apple pies, and as the years went by, I got the hang of it more and more and they’ve become my favorite thing to make. Today’s pie was supposed to be triple berry (blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry), but here’s the thing. I have been searching like a crazy person for sour cherries for as long as I can remember, and have never been successful. Given that I live in New York, it’s not surprising, but it’s a real bummer every year when I see cherry pie recipes and my only option is that gloopy cherry pie filling from a can. Granted, sometimes that hits the spot, but other times when I’m not trying to put chemicals in by body I would love to make one from scratch. But, I digress. Last week I was at the ~fancy~ supermarket to buy polenta for my last post (read here), and I stumbled across JARS of pitted sour cherries in juice and I almost cried. It’s not as good as the fresh ones, but you can believe that I bought some and ate most of the cherries straight from said jar with a spoon. In an effort to control myself and to stop doing that, I made my berry filling and added in the rest of the pitted cherries to the mix, and I was definitely not mad about it (if you don’t have access to sour cherries you can just leave them out, or replace them with sweet cherries since they’re more common).

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I use a pie crust recipe from the queen herself, Ina Garten a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, which uses a very important mix of butter AND shortening. The mix is also made in a food processor, which cuts down on how much your hands come in contact with it, which in turn keeps the butter and shortening cold before it bakes. This means that when it hits the heat of the oven, it creates steam that gives you an extra crispy (and never soggy) crust. The result is golden and buttery (from the butter, obv), but also perfectly crisp and flaky (thanks to the shortening), and I will never use another pie crust recipe. The fruit filling thickens while baking and becomes almost jammy in texture and I can’t stop thinking about it honestly. I know it’s probably irrational to bake a berry pie in the winter, but I’m dreaming of warmer weather and this is my way of coping OKAY.

Let’s bake!!

Makes: 1 double crust pie
Prep Time: about 1 hour
Bake Time: 60-70 minutes
Total: 2.5 hours

Crust Ingredients

12 tbs (1.5 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs sugar
½ cup ice water

Steps

1. Before beginning, dice your butter and shortening on a cutting board, and put back in the fridge until its needed, to make sure that it stays cold.

2. In the bowl of the food processor, add the flour, salt, and sugar, and pulse several times to combine. If you don’t have a food processor available to you, you can mix in a regular bowl and use a pastry blender or your hands, but the result may not be as flaky- it’ll still taste great though!!

3. Add in the butter and shortening and pulse the processor 10-12 times until the mixture is well combined.

4. Next, turn the processor on high and stream in the ice water gradually, continuing to mix until a single ball of dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten into a disk shape. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

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Filling Ingredients

6-7 cups mixed berries (and cherries!!) of your choice, I used raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
2 tsp lemon juice, for brightness
½ cup granulated sugar (test your berries for sweetness levels and adjust accordingly, some batches are sweeter than others!)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon (it works really well with blueberries!)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbs water (for egg wash)
demerara sugar (for sprinkling)

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Before making your filling, remove pie crust from the fridge and cut in half. Roll half the dough into a circle wide enough to fit your pie tin with excess over the sides for folding, making sure that it’s an even thickness. If you’re worried about the bottom being too soggy, sprinkle some crust dust* before adding in the filling.

2. Toss your berries with the lemon juice, sugar, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon until well-incorporated. Add on top of the bottom crust quickly so that it doesn’t sit and get too wet.

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3. Roll out your top crust next, and here you can use your creative license a little. I went with a lattice top since I haven’t done one of those in a while, but you could also go with a regular full top crust, or play around with cookie cutters and shapes, it’s up to you! For my lattice, I rolled my crust into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick, and cut wide strips using a ruffled pastry wheel cutter.

4. To make a lattice, start by laying out all your vertical strips- for some reason I had 5 vertical strips and 3 horizontal, don’t ask me why I didn’t just do 4 and 4 because I’m still mad about it. Anywho, starting from the top, lay your horizontal strips in the following way: over the first vertical strip, under the second vertical strip, back over the third, and continue until it’s fully across. For the second strip, start with the reverse so that it goes under the first vertical strip, then over the second, and so on, until it’s fully across. Continue with the rest of your strips, making sure that each consecutive horizontal strip starts the opposite way the one before it did. I find myself out loud saying “Over, under” and “under, over” when I do this just to help myself keep track. Trim the edges and fold the excess over, crimping with your fingers or a fork to seal the filling inside.

5. Brush your crust with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with the demerara sugar. Place your pie on a cookie sheet (to catch any bubbling filling), and bake at 425º for the first 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the top isn’t browning too fast. After 20 minutes, turn your oven down to 350ºF and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden brown. I like to turn it down to 350º because it stops the crust from burning while allowing the filling to fully cook, but if you’re still worried about browning, check every now and then, and be prepared to cover the edges of your pie with tin foil or silicone pie crust protectors.

6. Once you’ve achieved peak golden crust, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. I like to let it cool fully before reheating to eat, just to give the filling a chance to thicken and keep it together, but if you simply can’t wait, I get that too. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some homemade whipped cream and watch some Pushing Daisies!!!

*crust dust: equal parts all purpose flour and granulated sugar, mixed together and sprinkled on the bottom pie crust before filling is added, to absorb extra juices.

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Happy Friday and enjoy! xoxoxo

 

 

 

Fried Polenta Cakes with Spicy Tomato-Kale Sauce and an Olive Oil Fried Egg

WOW this name is a mouthful. But trust me, every aspect of this recipe needed to be there, they work together to create one of the most comforting, magical, and deceivingly easy dinners.

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This past week I had a taste of what it would be like to live alone (my family was traveling but I still had work because adult life is nonsense), and wow I just don’t think I’m cut out for it. When left to my own devices, I grocery shop so irrationally it’s just embarrassing. For starters, I dropped $22 on saffron because I’d never tried it before (it was amazing and I made Risotto al Milanese and I regret NOTHING but that’s not the point), bought 3 different bottles of wine and a bottle of cognac for separate recipes and used half a cup of each, AND bought a selection of mixed berries to impulsively bake a pie (recipe for that coming soon!!).

It was only three days someone please help me get my life together. Anyway, let’s break this meal down shall we? These polenta rounds are pan-fried until crispy, then topped with a spicy tomato sauce (almost too spicy because I got carried away but I learned my lesson don’t worry), aaaaand as if it couldn’t get any better, a runny but crispy olive oil fried egg is plopped on top to make you feel like you’re eating fancy brunch while eating dinner on your couch. Topped with a downy sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese, please try to hold back your tears of joy as you eat this.

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Let’s go!!

Makes: 4 dinner servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: about an hour

Ingredients:

1 lb. polenta (I used already made and chilled polenta in tube-form, but you can make your own!)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
½ to ¾ tsp red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
½ tsp anchovy paste
1 can crushed tomatoes
A splash of red wine (since I was already drinking it, but optional)
Handful of curly kale, rib removed and roughly chopped
4 eggs, for frying
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated

Steps:

1. In a saucepan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium and add the diced onions. Cook until the onions become soft and transparent. Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for just another minute, until garlic becomes fragrant but not brown and bitter. Add the anchovy paste and mix to combine.

2. Pour in your can of crushed tomatoes and stir, making sure all the contents are incorporated, and splash in the red wine if you want it! Turn the heat down slightly and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Toss in the kale and cook, covered, until it has wilted and softened, another 15 minutes.

3. While the sauce is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium in a separate frying pan. Slice your polenta into circles about an inch thick, and fry on both sides (about 10 minutes per side), until they are golden brown and crispy. Once the polenta is done, in the same pan, add a tablespoon more olive oil per egg and allow it to get very hot (about a minute). Add your egg for frying (you can fit two at a time if necessary), and fry until the whites are opaque and the yolk is your desired consistency, about 2 minutes. Swirl the pan around as you cook to make sure nothing sticks, and baste your egg with the hot oil as necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

4. To serve, pile 3 to 4 polenta cakes on your plate, smother with a generous portion of sauce, and top with a fried egg. Add a generous grating of parmesan cheese and enjoy!!

xoxoxoD

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Blood Orange Buttercream

Hello everyone, Happy Friday! Congratulations on powering through another work week, I’m so proud of you! I don’t know what it was about this week that made it feel so long, even with the holiday Monday, what is that about? But now that we’re approaching the sweet, sweet weekend, why not reward yourself with a slice of this incredible double layer cake, with just the right balance of richness from the dark chocolate and brightness from the blood orange. It might seem like a weird combination, chocolate and citrus, but I PROMISE I’m not leading you astray here.

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Cakes have always been a weak spot for me, I can never seem to get the shape of them right, and stacking is always a huge challenge. I grew up making sheet cakes for birthdays, and only after I really started baking seriously did I dive into layer cakes, and I realized that I didn’t really like them. It always seemed like so much effort for a piece of cake. BUT, then I started to do some research, and I learned a few things. Number one, don’t level or cut your cakes until they’re completely cooled, and chilling them makes it easier. Number two, different cake batters yield different crumb texture, and different crumbs cut better than others. I had always thought that my go-to sheet cake recipe would work for layered cakes, but with a much looser crumb structure, I found that it would just fall apart when I tried to cut it, resulting in crumbly, uneven cake layers.

This recipe produces a much tighter cake batter (does that make sense? Can a cake batter be tight? I don’t know let’s just move on), and the combination of dark chocolate cocoa powder with some instant coffee granules (a secret ingredient used to make chocolate baked goods really pop) creates probably your new favorite cake ever. And, while I discovered that blood oranges don’t taste much different from regular oranges, I have been searching for them forEVER, and the beautiful natural pink color that they give the frosting just can’t be beaten.

Anywho, let’s bake!

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Makes: 1 double-layer cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 50-55 minutes
Total Time: ~2 hours

Dark Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

2¾ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature

Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line two 9 inch circular cake tins with parchment paper (or generously butter and flour them.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, making sure everything is evenly incorporated.

3. In a heat safe bowl, mix 2 cups of boiling water with the cocoa powder and espresso powder, whisking until completely smooth. Let cool.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or another large bowl with a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and mix. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

5. This next step will be done in parts, with the flour mixture being added in 3 parts, and the warm cocoa mixture being added in two. Start with the flour, add a third of the mixture slowly to avoid the flour flying out of the bowl. Mix until the batter is just incorporated, don’t over-mix!

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6. Bake the cakes (I bake them on a cookie sheet in case of spills), for 50-55 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through to ensure even cooking. Test with a wire cake tester or toothpick before removing.

7. Transfer the pans to a wire rack, loosen the edges with a spatula and let the cakes cool completely in the pans.

8. To level your cakes, use a thin serrated knife (like a bread knife) to cut evenly around the top of the cake to trim off the top dome and give your cakes an even surface for stacking. If it’s helpful, mark the line with toothpicks to keep your knife level. Remember, you can always trim a little more if you need to, but you can’t put it back if you’ve cut too much! Now on to the frosting…

Blood Orange Buttercream Ingredients:
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog, recipe here.

3 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
zest of one blood orange
¼ cup blood orange juice
2 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
4 cups powdered sugar
A few tbs milk, if needed

Steps:

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter until it becomes creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar, cup by cup, beating until fully combined.

2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the zest and juice of the blood orange, vanilla, and salt. Mix until combined, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium and beat for about 5 minutes until fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk or so until you get the right consistency.

3. To ice the cake, place the first cake on your cake stand and add a dollop of frosting to the top, spreading evenly. Place the second cake on top and “crumb coat” your cake lightly, then chill for 30 minutes to an hour. This keeps all the dark crumbs in the first layer of frosting and not on the outside to ruin the presentation of your cake.

4. Use the remaining frosting to generously ice the cake, and top with any decoration that your heart desires- I went with blood orange slices, but you could use sprinkles, rosemary sprigs for color, the possibilities are endless!!

Yay now cut yourself a generous slice and put your feet up because you DESERVE IT! All the love xoxoxoD

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toasts

About a month ago, my grandpa (one of the smartest cooks I know), gifted me his copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and wow I have never been more excited or honored. I’ve been steadily building an arsenal of cookbooks, because there’s something really special about flipping through them (as opposed to constantly scrolling through my phone), turning to the same splattered pages to find an especially loved recipe covered in notes and annotations. As I was reading through this particular cookbook, it became more and more clear to me that these recipes were HARD. Like several hours and countless steps and French everywhere hard. BUT, then I came across the recipe for Soup À L’Oignon, and I knew it was the perfect first try. If you’re nervous about taking on a large cooking venture, soup is always the way to start- its recipes often allow for more wiggle room, which means that you’re free to experiment and less likely to make a meal-ruining mistake, plus the options are literally ENDLESS.

Traditionally, French Onion Soup is served “gratinee” with a lid of melted cheese on top and a circle of bread soaking up the liquid inside, but my lack of oven-safe soup crocks made this impossible. Instead, I give you these mini crostinis, brushed with olive oil and toasted, rubbed with a clove of garlic, and piled high with gruyere melted to perfection.

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The more bread the merrier am I right!!

The beauty of this soup is how the flavors develop in the slow 2 hour cooking process, and there just is no way to rush that kind of goodness. The key is the caramelizing of the onions, because obviously that’s the star of this dish and every other ingredient is there to enhance it’s rich, warm flavor. It’s also important to note that aside from the slicing of said onions, watch your eyes btw because I was CRYING, the hardest part about making this soup is opening the bottle of wine (and helping yourself to an obligatory while-I’m-cooking glass).

This is the perfect warming winter soup, and I’m pretty sure it’s magical because almost as soon as we had finished our bowls, we looked outside to see the most beautiful dusting of powdery snow illuminated by the street lamps.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that no matter how many people are actually home, I always cook for at least 10 people, so I was skeptical when the recipe claimed to serve 6-8 but only called for 2 quarts of stock, so I started messing around with the proportions of liquid. In the end, I’d say that Julia Child’s original recipe would probably serve 6-8 in small appetizer portions, but if you are looking to eat this for dinner as I was, this recipe will serve about the same number in larger portions. Let’s go!

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My favorite cooking companions- a good cookbook and yet another episode of The Office…anyone else??

Makes: 6-8 dinner portions
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: ~2.5 hours
Total Time: 3 hours

Soup Ingredients:

6 cups yellow onions, sliced (it seems like a lot, but they shrink a ton)
4 tbs salted butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp sugar (to help with caramelization)
¼ tsp ground thyme
4 tbs flour
8 cups beef stock + 2 cups water
¾ dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
3 tbs Cognac (a little goes a long way)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Grated gruyere or swiss cheese (to top)

Steps:

1. In a heavy-bottom soup pot, heat the butter and oil, and add in the sliced onions. Cook slowly with the pot covered for 15 minutes.

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I need to invest in a pair of goggles to chop this many onions again.

2. Uncover and raise the heat to medium. Add in the salt, sugar, and thyme, then stir. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even caramelization. While the onions are cooking, heat the stock and water in a separate pot to steaming, not quite boiling. Once the onions have turned a deep golden brown (to resemble the color of brown sugar), move to step 3.

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This is about halfway there! LOOK how much they shrink as they cook!!

3. At this point, add in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste, stirring constantly.

4. Remove the soup pot from the heat and add in the heated stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon to incorporate all the delicious bits stuck to the bottom. Taste test here and adjust your salt and pepper as you see fit. (Tip: though I’ve never tried it personally, APPARENTLY if you find your soup over-salted, toss in a few halved potatoes, and they will naturally soak up some of the salt. The more you know!!)

5. Add the wine, and then simmer the soup partially uncovered for another 30 to 40 minutes. Just before you serve, stir in the cognac. When serving, I like to put some shredded cheese in the bowl before pouring in the soup so that it gets melty, and then top with several of the gruyere toasts (recipe below). Once the toast soaks up some of the broth it gets soft enough for you to break with your spoon and get some excellent cheese pulls. If you want a pop of green as well, you can always sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.

YUM!

Gruyere Toast Ingredients:

1 loaf french bread
2 cups shredded gruyere (or swiss if you’d prefer)
Olive Oil (for brushing)
Clove of garlic, peeled but whole

Steps: 

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Slice the loaf into thin rounds and brush with olive oil. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, and toast until they begin to get golden on the tops, about 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven and rub the top of each piece of bread with the garlic clove (very carefully, the bread is SO hot). Top each toast with a generous amount of shredded cheese, and return to the oven. Broil on high for a few minutes, watching very carefully because the cheese can go from melty to burnt in a second.

3. Top your soup with as many of these as you like, and marvel at how such simple ingredients can taste so magical.

Enjoy!! xoxoxoD

This post is dedicated to Jake, I can only hope to be half the cook you are, thank you for your wisdom and cookbooks!!