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Archive for the ‘cakes’ Category

Besties

They say that the more you write, the more you want to write. It’s true. I woke up this morning feeling like I hadn’t chatted with y’all in forever. I checked my last post date and realized that it was just a mere four days ago that we had our last convo. Really?! It can only mean one thing: we’re becoming besties.

Besties are a good thing to have on your team. I’ve been really blessed to have several besties over the last twenty-ahem-sorry-something’s-caught-in-my-throat-and-you-can’t-hear-my-real-age years. But the standard for besties, the one by which I measure all other potential besties, is Meghan. Meghan and I met in children’s church about a hundred years ago at (I think) age 7. We were sitting next to each other in story circle and, being the chatty girls that we were/are, found each other much more interesting than whatever our teacher was rambling about. Ten minutes later, after countless warnings to stop talking, we were separated. But not for long. From that moment on Meghan and I were two really weird peas in a pod. Same classes, same schedules (whenever we could manage it), same thoughts. People didn’t say one of our names without the other.  Every wall came down and our freak flags flew higher than they probably should have. We were so strange, y’all. And I’m not saying that to be self-deprecating. It’s just a fact. Our teachers would totes confirm. In each other we found all the acceptance and support that we could have ever needed. And we found laughter. SO much laughter. It was the laughter that kept us afloat. It reassured us that, no matter what came our way or what bad fortune befell us, there was always hope. It was our silver lining.

Meghan and I don’t live in the same city anymore. Haven’t for years. But for the rest of our lives we will be connected by a shared history. By a friendship that saw it all and knew how to bend so it wouldn’t break. My life changes like leaves on a tree. The seasons keep coming and the colors never stay the same for long, but she will always be my roots. Do you have a friend like that? I hope so. I hope that everyone, at some point in their lives, gets to experience the beauty of true friendship. It’s life-altering to really see and be seen. When someone that’s not related to you, who has no real obligation to be there for you, sees your whole heart – good, bad, and otherwise – and chooses to be there for you, well it gives you the confidence to face the rest of the world boldly. Because who cares what other people think when you have a Meghan?

We used to love to cook together. Anything and everything from breakfast to dessert, we didn’t discriminate. Being in the kitchen with each other was one of our favorite pastimes. I’m still not sure how we managed to not burn down one or both of our houses. The Lord was clearly with us. If Meghan lived in Austin, or if I was ever able to take a trip to el valle, this is the cake I would make for her. Or better yet, that we would make together. For old time’s sake. Go find your Meghan. Have a reunion and gossip about the whole world and make this cake. Throw in some really good dessert wine, just to promote the laughter.

 

Mexican Chocolate Fudge-Pecan Cake
adapted from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen”

Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate-Pecan Glaze

1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (sifted, then measured)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease and flour a 9″ tube or 10-12 cup bundt pan (srsly, Baker’s Joy Spray will make your life much easier.)

For the cake: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add water and whisk until smooth, being careful to not boil the mixture. Remove pan from heat and add in sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to warm cocoa mixture all at once. Whisk until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt all at once. Whisk until dry ingredients are completely incorporated (a few small lumps are fine, don’t worry getting it totally smooth.) Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done when it has slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan and feels firm to the touch. Let cool in pan for about 20 minutes.

For the glaze: Melt butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add milk, cocoa, and powdered sugar and whisk until glossy. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt, and toasted/chopped pecans.

Loosen sides of cake with a knife or off-set spatula and invert onto serving plate. Spoon the glaze over cooled cake, covering it thoroughly, letting it drip and ooze down the sides and pool at the bottom. Cake will keep up to three days, covered, at room temp. Not that it’ll be around that long.

 

the chocolate cake equivalent to a best friend

 

Besties encourage one another and since we’ve been hanging out y’all have encouraged me more than I ever could have hoped to expect. Thanks for that. Your support has meant the world to me. Cheers to chocolate and friendship and the past that has made us who we are today. Cheers to Meghan.

xoxo,

Mindy

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Are we all babka’d out?! I know I am. After such a heavy, buttery bread I thought this week we could maybe try something that won’t clog our arteries. Let’s go to Norway! My family claims a rich and varied heritage that may or may not be accurate (including some type of Native American, Irish, and horse thieving Germans) but I think it’s safe to say that Norwegian blood accounts for at least half of what is running through my veins. Maybe it’s why I love the cold. I’m a Viking at heart. And, given the fact that it’s at least 100 degrees outside, I figured today would be a good day to crank the a.c. down to frigid, wear my favorite winter coat and scarf, and pretend that I’m hiking through the Oldenvatnet Mountains.

that’s it. me and texas are done. i’m moving to the mountains.

Hiking trips call for picnic lunches. We’ll pack sandwiches and pretzels and some really fabulous homemade granola and for an easy dessert we’ll have a traditional eplekake, of course. It’s this incredible, fabulously light cake that’s not too sweet and made almost entirely of apples. There’s not an ounce of butter to be found. I know. It’s crazy. Paula would be outraged.

Ingredients

2 tbs milk
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup + 3 tbs all-purpose flour
3/4 cup super-fine sugar (this can be made by tossing regular sugar in a food processor and pulsing a few times)
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
3 medium-sized tart apples

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F, line an 8″ cake pan with parchment paper and grease with butter or non-stick spray.

2. Peal, core, and dice the apples and set aside.

3. In mixing bowl, combine baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, flour, and sugar.

4. In separate bowl, combine milk, egg, and vanilla. With mixer on low, slowly pour into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

5. Fold in chopped, toasted almonds and your diced apples. Transfer to prepared pan and spread evenly.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Let cool for about 5 minutes, run knife delicately around edges to loosen cake, and invert on to cooling rack. Remove pan and parchment paper and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

the powdered sugar reminds me of the snow-capped mountains my people call home.

Let’s be honest, we don’t really need to break out the mixer for this one. But how can you resist turning on your beautiful kitchen aid when it’s been whispering to you in the night? You can’t. Give in. Share the love. In the spirit of honesty, I confess: I didn’t have any cardamom on hand, so I used just the tiniest sprinkling of ground cloves instead. It was a good idea.  And since we’re on this whole truth-kick, I gotta tell you: this is one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. Which brings me to another confession: I didn’t wait until the cake was cool to try it. Don’t judge me. It smelled too good. You know how I can’t resist a good smell. I think it’s the almonds that put it over the edge. And it’s completely saturated with apples which, in my mind, translates to healthy so that’s a nice (all-be-it delusional) plus. The little bit of cake you do get is light and moist and please make this cake immediately. You won’t be disappointed. Those Norwegians really knew what they were doing. Gorgeous mountains, delicious cake, cold weather…There’s really nothing more you need in life.

Where should we go next!?

 

xoxo,

Mindy

that went quick…

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