Browse Category

Desserts

My aunt’s cocoa cake: moist, spongy, delicious!

I see her, eyebrows raised, sweat covering her forehead, shirt almost translucent, working hard in her tiny apartment kitchen in the sweltering heat of the summer. It was hot, but she didn’t care because she was baking for her family, and that made everything worthwhile. Nevermind the lingering heat, the sweat, the scarce ingredients. She was going to put her imagination to the test and come up with melt-in-your-mouth desserts for her family to enjoy. A labor of love: Isn’t this what baking is all about?

This lady was my aunt, who passed away in 1993. She was a fantastic baker and an all-around cook extraordinaire.Β  By now, you know I like to remember her in this blog and to recreate her recipes as often as I can. The cake below is yet another trip down memory lane, to my aunt and the wonderful summers we spent together in the countryside – baking, eating, playing childhood games under the old quince tree, living a wonderful life. πŸ™‚ Keep Reading

Baking for comfort, baking for memories: Why these cranberry cookies remind me of my mom

Can you smell the cookies? Yes, it’s happening: I’m baking! It’s 86 degrees in here, very humid, and the air conditioning is on. The noise of the hood is cutting through the heat, yet – thankfully! – the little one is sound asleep on the silky brown carpet. I’m baking not because I’ve been craving cookies, nor because I enjoy sweating next to the hot oven, but because I need to feel that, somehow, my mom isΒ  still with me.

My mom went back to Europe last month, and we did several rounds of baking just before she left. We looked through her old recipe notebook – a bunch of butter-smeared and cocoa-dusted pages barely hanging in there – and found culinary gems we had long forgotten. We shared memories about the loved ones who are no longer with us, and my mom’s eyes often grew sad as her mind revisited the past. We spoke, baked and remembered, and traveling through time provided comfort and a bitter-sweet, almondy sense of happiness. Isn’t this what baking is all about? That’s what I think, anyway πŸ™‚

This is one of the recipes we revisited before my mom left for Europe. Keep Reading

What to make in my new cast iron skillet? An upside-down pineapple cake will do :-)

I can’t remember how many times I ate my aunt’s upside-down cake as a child, but one thing is for sure: I ate it a lot! This is a modified version of her 40+ year-old recipe. The original version uses apples, and its deep caramel flavor coupled with the refreshing lemon undertones makes it simply unbeatable as a dessert.

I recently went back in time and rediscovered this cake. I had bought several pineapples from the local grocery store and was tempted to use them in a cake, which would have made a nice change from our usual way of eating pineapple (fresh, on its own). I fondly remembered how my aunt sliced apples picked fresh from her countryside orchard to use them in this dessert. And then, the penny dropped: Why not recreate my aunt’s upside-down cake with pineapple instead of apples? With my cooking dilemma solved, I went straight into the kitchen. πŸ™‚

Keep Reading

Our Flag Day dessert: an ode to summer featuring strawberries and cream – and more!

It’s summer, and the floodgates of produce have opened! Who can resist the sweetness and freshness of berries, which are now at their peak of perfection? We for sure cannot. Thankfully, berries have been on sale these past few weeks, which means that we’ve been eating berries – lots and lots of them. I’ve also made two batches of raspberry jam (the recipe can be found here) and I am about to make a third. The abundance of fresh berries is one of the reasons I love summer so much. If only I had more time to cook, bake and generally experiment in the kitchen…

In this dessert I’ve used my beloved berries to visually pay homage to Flag Day, which is today. This sweet dish requires little preparation, and the result is deliciously simple and likely to satisfy the expectations of both adults and children. By the way, ricotta cheese is one of our daughter’s favorite cheeses (she’s a cheeseaholic, just like her mom πŸ™‚ ).

Keep Reading

My review of the Lovely: a bake shop holiday menu: Sweetness has never tasted better!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been eating a lot of sweets lately. I don’t think it’s just my body’s response to the stress and exhaustion of these past few weeks – I also believe it’s got something to do with the season. Between my mother-in-law’s baking at home and numerous lunches and potlucks at work, the sweet tooth, pie & coffee cake aficionada in me has never felt happier!

For me, now is the perfect time to indulge and to try to put the worries and challenges of this past year behind me. Lovely: a bake shop provided the perfect opportunity for me to do just that, when they recently invited me to sample their holiday sweets menu. I happily obliged – and off I went πŸ™‚

Keep Reading

Happy Thanksgiving! Our vegan pumpkin strudel – at least as good as pumpkin pie :-)

Have you ever been afraid to make pastry dough? I have – and I still am! Luckily, my mother-in-law has recently given me the recipe below, which is an easy to make, but also economical (no eggs, no butter!) strudel-type pastry.

I am a big fan of strudel, that Austrian multi-layered pastry which is not just delicious, but also versatile. I literally grew up eating apple strudels, lol Meanwhile, my husband loves ricotta&raisinΒ  strudel, and always wants me to make more. As a matter of fact, yesterday I brought ricotta strudel to a pre-Thanksgiving party at work, and everybody loved it – and how couldn’t they? Light as a feather and delicately powdered with sugar, this dessert can brighten up any meal, and any occasion, Thanksgiving included. I made it for Halloween last month, and I’m making it again for Thanksgiving. We just can’t seem to get enough of it πŸ™‚
Keep Reading

I made “Little Lies” cookies: a story of sweetness and… lies?

“Tell me lies/Tell me sweet little lies” – this is how Fleetwood Mac’s song goes. I love this song – and I also love the cookies I am going to write about today. πŸ™‚

This is a traditional fried cookie recipe I have from my mother, and intriguingly enough, the name of these cookies can be translated as “little lies.” You can find them in the Polish cuisine too, where they are called “angel wings.” To us though, they are “little lies.” I have been wondering why they bear this name in our cuisine. Is it because the exterior fools you into thinking they are crispy like cannoli or like the angel wings (their Polish counterpart), when in fact they are soft and light as a feather? Or is it because they trick you by appearing complicated, when in fact they couldn’t be easier to make? Questions and assumptions aside, these are delicious, quick to prepare, and very economical – you’ll get a lot of cookies if you use the quantities below.

Keep Reading