Last week I celebrated my 27th birthday. It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago I was starting college and dating my-now-fiance Dan. We’ve started a tradition where each year Dan bakes me a cake for my birthday. Last year he baked this amazing Coffee & Donuts cake and this year we decided on an Espresso Biscoff concoction.
This recipe, also from Sprinkle Bakes, was sure to be a winner. I love coffee and speculoos, so there was no risk. I also had a super cute dinosaur candle I had picked up a few years ago while on vacation and was waiting for just the right moment to whip out.
Since Dan didn’t cut the cake into a heart and pipe the frosting on, he sprinkled some crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans on it.
All in all, the cake tasted good, but the cake part itself was lacking a bit of flavor. Though there was a lot of Biscoff cookie spread and espresso in the batter, it tasted plain in comparison to the filling. If I were to make this again, I would change the cake to be a deep, dark chocolate cake with brewed coffee in the batter. The bitterness would help the Biscoff filling and Biscoff-mocha frosting stand out more. I would also see if it were possible to fill the cake with pure Biscoff instead of adding the sugar and butter to it. It tasted great, but without a bold cake, the filling got too sweet for me rather quickly.
This slice of cake was a perfect excuse to whip out my new Anthropologie plates! My best friend and I had this cake for breakfast, warm from the oven, before heading out to a local flea market and holiday popup. I do think this cake might taste better the day(s) after, when the coffee-flavor has had time to become more pronounced.
The only thing that could have made this birthday better was if it were warmer outside (I hate the cold)!
This week marks many things –
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Leopold’s gotch-ya day, and my 27th birthday.
These recipes came out of a conversation I was having a few weeks back at my in-laws dinner table. My father-in-law (it’s almost official, right?) whipped out some pumpkin bread he had recently picked up at Wegman’s thinking “why not?” We all agreed the bread was good, but just not the same as “Beth’s Pumpkin stuff”. What was this pumpkin bread-muffin-cupcake and why had I not heard of it? More likely I had heard of them, possibly eaten them, and just forgot about them and their reputation. I made my mother-in-law promise to send me the recipe and later that night it arrived in my inbox.
There aren’t many recipes that I don’t make modifications to. I kept the cake recipe the same, even leaving in the pecans. There are two camps in the “nut” baked good battle; some like the textural contrast of the nuts and some find it offensive and disharmonious. I added the pecans because: 1) I love pecans and 2) I had them in the apartment. My mother-in-law leaves them out and they taste just as good.
In this case, I took my mother-in-law’s recommendation and switched the original recipe’s frosting out for her tried-and-true and award-winning cream cheese frosting. I added in a few tablespoons of pumpkin puree leftover from the cake into the frosting and topped these with some cranberry orange relish, which I had already added a few tablespoons of to the batter.
You might think topping a cupcake with relish is crazy, but pumpkin and cranberry are both flavors that can go savory or sweet. This relish is more like a coulis and the tartness and brightness of the topping really do a great job to keep this treat from getting too heavy. You can even argue that this has fruit and vegetables in it–with cream cheese, it’s great for breakfast! Plus you know there’s going to be leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving.
For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired up with K&K Test Kitchen. One of my favorite things about the site is the design since the colors are so well coordinated and it is appealing to the eye. I am a web designer by day, so thats one of the first things I noticed.
This was another month where it was hard to choose just what recipe to make. I changed up my tactic this time and asked my fiancé to pick a recipe after I whittled it down to Healthy Spinach Dip, Artichoke Dip, Pistachio Marmalade Cake, or Cashew Chicken. Even though he picked spinach dip, I ended up making the cake. Next time I swear I’ll let him really choose!
I figured this would be a great opportunity to use some of my various jams in the refrigerator, as well as my cute gingham mini bundt cake liners from World Market. I did adapt this recipe to use what I had on hand, and it turned out no worse for it.
I had a lovely Japanese Quince jam gifted to me by my friend Stephanie that was just itching to be used in this. I have a problem when I get things that tast good. I actually don’t eat them. They’re so precious to me I always save them for later, but then they end up getting thrown away! I wasn’t going to let that happen to this jam, so I whipped 2 mini cakes up and sent her one as part of a care package.
You can substitute the cider for any juice (orange juice is the original). I also substituted the cornmeal with almond meal, and replaced the orange marmalade with quince jam. I also mixed the pistachios with some chai sugar I picked up at Mitsuwa on a recent trip to New York to echo the cardamom in the mix.
The texture of the cake was a bit crumbly and the bottom was a little overdone (the middle wouldn’t cook all the way). I don’t think this is due to the substitutions since this same issue was noted on K&K Test Kitchen. In the future, I would recommend bumping the cooking temperature to 325 so that none of it overcooks.
Since the cake itself that was not adjacent to the topping was a bit bland, I would definitely add more jam next time so that the flavor is more pronounced.
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You know something’s a success when people ask for the recipe after eating it.
I was a little doubtful while scooping these cookies out onto the baking sheet. The batter didn’t look like any cookie dough I had ever seen because it was pretty loose and some even lost their shape when they hit the pan.
I was still worried after they were done baking and I chomped on one while still warm from the oven. It just tasted o~kay.
But, I let them sit overnight and by the next day they had somehow changed. The flavors had mingled together and become stronger. The texture on the outside had become crunchier and the inside more fudgy, like a brownie. In fact, these taste like a delicious brownie-cookie hybrid, and they even double as a caffeine pick-me-up because of the chocolate covered espresso beans.
Everyone that tried these cookies became an immediate convert, even those that don’t like coffee (read: my mom).
Even though a little more work goes into these to melt the chocolate, there are only 2 tablespoons of butter in the entire recipe. Can you believe it? I think I’m going to try coating these with sugar next and see if they can replace my traditional Milk Chocolate Espresso Cookies at Christmas time. If you’re one of those that doesn’t like crunchy things like nuts or candy in your cookies (like my fiance), then you can replace the chocolate covered espresso beans with a strong espresso powder.
Banana bread, like Zucchini Bread, is basically an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Because of the addition of fruit, a slice of this bread can be justified at any time of day.
I completely overlooked this article about Julia’s Banana Bread in the March issue of Bon Appétit until I saw it pop up on fellow hapa foodie Erica’s blog Cannella Vita. After reading her post, I rummaged through the magazine and read the article and was convinced to attempt the recipe.
My family is from Maui and the first time we visited Hawai’i we made the trek down the road to Hana. I remember seeing this green shack, but didn’t know that it hid delicious treats. Next time I go to Maui (for my honeymoon!), I’ll be sure to stop by Julia’s to try some banana bread. My hometown, Pai’a, is the “last stop” on the way to Hana, so I have absolutely no excuse.
This banana bread is a great slice of comfort in the cold, chilly mornings of Winter (when the recipe was originally posted in Bon Appétit), but it works equally as well on the sticky summer days we’ve been having recently.
I sprinkled the top of the bread with some raw sugar I picked up the last time I was in Hawai’i and added in some whole wheat flour to boost the healthiness so that it’s even easier to justify that second slice. The bread looks even more inviting on this tie-died, honu printed sarong I picked up from Pai’a when we were there last.