Tag Archives: Cakes

Letter from the Editor

Dear friends and loved ones,

If you are getting married in the near future (and I know some of you are), and you have invited me (and I know some of you have), then I implore you: serve this at your wedding. Pretty, pretty please. I promise if you do, I will bring you a way nicer gift than I had originally planned.

photo c/o Momofuku.com/milk-bar/

In case you were unaware, as I was until today, Momofuku Milk Bar (one of my favorite places on planet Earth), makes wedding cakes. Oh yes, they do. And friends, loves, nearest-and-dearest-to-my-hearts, if you’re not down for a whole wedding cake, you can order slices of Crack Pie as wedding favors. Nothing says “thanks for celebrating my union” like a slice of Crack Pie.

Seriously.

Nothing.

And if you can’t manage to serve this tower of perfection at your own wedding, maybe you could set me up with a single friend who will soon propose so I can thus serve it at my own. Deal?

Thanks and all best wishes for the future,
Lauren E.

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Filed under New York Restaurants

Jean-Georges Nougatine

Sometimes, even as a lover of food, I forget why New York is great. It’s loud, its manic pace is constant, and as the weather gets warmer, the city gets smellier. I’m ready for a change. But then, out of the blue, I have a New York moment and I remember why there is no place like this place and how I will never be able to find another like her.

Jean-Georges with a Lady Who Lunches - a blurry camera picture because we were trying hard to be classy and discreet

When I sat down at a Jean-Georges restaurant near Central Park on Wednesday for lunch and Jean-Georges himself walked out of the kitchen, I felt like 13-year-old-Lauren would have felt if Jonathan Taylor Thomas had walked out of the kitchen. I’m not ashamed to say I got butterflies. He’s just that good.

Nougatine New York Magazine praises this little sun-filled restaurant at 1 Central Park West as “possibly the least heralded and most overlooked restaurant in town.” My good friend Becca invited me to lunch as payment for a cake I made her (seriously, does baking have its perks, or what?) and on the hottest day of an unseasonably warm April, we sat down for a posh meal where the dining room is run like a well-oiled machine and the Ladies Who Lunch throw birthday parties with Tiffany blue boxes as table favors.

On the menu:
Warm Beets and Rich Yogurt
field mache and lemon oil
Shrimp Salad
with avocado and tomato champagne vinegar dressing
Salt and Pepper Calamari
with citrus-chili dip
Roasted Red Snapper
with broccoli raab and sweet garlic-lemon broth
Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin
with miso butter and roasted brussel sprouts
Creme Caramel
with sacristan (puff pastry twisted and dipped in sugar) and citrus
Jean-Georges Warm Chocolate Cake
with vanilla bean ice cream
[the prix fixe meal allows you to choose 2 small plates plus a dessert for $26]

Salt and pepper calamari

Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin (blurry because I barely had time to snap this picture before I dove into the deliciousness)

Verdict: To. Die. For. “What’s in that, crack cocaine?” I wish I could say my dining partners and I said this only once. Everything was so delicious, warm, inviting. Each bite left all the right pleasant notes in my mouth. The portions were perfect, and I left the restaurant feeling sated and glowing. Forget the temperatures outside. I was radiating sunshine from inside. The prices at Nougatine are far more reasonable than any of Jean-Georges’ other restaurants in Manhattan, but it’s still not a cheap meal. I make it a point to seek out affordable, delicious meals in New York so believe me when I tell you this: if I had only $100 to spend on one final meal in New York City, I would take it to Nougatine.

Red Snapper

The famous Jean-Georges Chocolate Cake with vanilla bean ice cream

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Filed under Chefs, New York Restaurants

And they call it buona notte…

One of the reasons I love to cook is because I love to eat. And so does my family. The main topic of conversation at breakfast is what’s for lunch, and by the time two o’clock in the afternoon rolls around, all we can talk about is where we’ll go for dinner. So when my mother suggested that I cook the family dinner this weekend, I was flattered and nervous all at once. Let’s just say no one holds back their true feelings when it comes to the quality of a meal.

It was in this vein that I chose an Italian classic, crossed my fingers, closed my eyes, and hoped for the best.

On the menu:
Chicken cacciatore
Roasted broccoli with lemon
Serves 4

Chicken:
1 whole chicken, cut into roughly 12 pieces
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup lemon juice (or the juice from one lemon)
3 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like your chicken with a kick)
1 cup dried mixed mushrooms (porcini, oyster, shiitake)*
3 cups dry white wine (2 cups to soak mushrooms**, 1 cup for cooking chicken)
1 cup water
3 cups chopped tomatoes with juice

*Your local grocery store should have dried mushrooms in prepackaged pouches
**Half an hour before you start cooking, put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour 2 cups of white wine over them to soak, soften, and marinate the mushrooms. Before you add the mushrooms as directed below, drain them and discard the used wine

Preheat oven to 350. Toss the chicken in a bowl with salt, pepper, garlic, and a little of the olive oil.
Put the rest of the olive oil in a large skillet and heat until very hot (the oil HAS to be hot to crisp the skin of the chicken). Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and garlic to the pan, and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side (if the garlic starts to burn, place it on top of the chicken).
Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and add the rosemary, turning down the heat to medium.
Add the red pepper and the remaining cup of white wine to deglaze the skillet.
Once the wine has reduced by half (around 10 minutes), add the marinated mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside. Taste the mushrooms and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with juice and the 1 cup of water. Taste again and season with salt and pepper.
Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste again and season with salt and pepper.
Return chicken to skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.
Put whole skillet in oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked throught. If your chicken pieces are huge, they may need a couple extra minutes in the oven.

Broccoli:
1 large head of broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice (or the juice from one lemon)
salt and pepper

Turn oven to 450. Cut broccoli into individual stalks. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet so there is space between the stalks. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes. Remove broccoli, toss with lemon juice and a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper. Return to baking sheet and bake for another 8 minutes.

Here are pictures of Wednesday’s carrot cake. WOW this came out well. The cake is dense and spicy, with the perfect complement of smooth, cheesy frosting. The decoration was a total flop, so I’m pretending that it never happened and giving you a picture of the inside instead. Way prettier, I promise.

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Filed under Cooking, Recipes

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother… but he will be soon, because he’s about to eat his birthday cake

This month my brother turned 27 years old. One year closer to 30. Terrifying. Because I’m right behind him. Remember when we were 5 and 7, Christopher?! I do.

Please note the crimped hair and giant glasses – we’ve always been a stylish family

This year my older brother asked if I would bake him a cake for his birthday. Now, I myself belong to the school of “nuts ruin baked goods” but Christopher wanted walnuts in his carrot cake, so I included them. If you try this recipe, feel free to leave them out. Trust me – you don’t need them.

On the menu:
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

*The only change I made to the Epicurious cake that I link to above is I made a double layer cake instead of a triple layer, and I did not use parchment paper in the baking pans. All you have to do is spray non-stick spray and coat the entire pan, bake for around 40 minutes.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a picture of the finished, decorated cake and a slice of the inside!

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Filed under Recipes

Thick Chocolate Love

“She loves Nutella.” Google: Nutella cake. Nigella Lawson recipe. Done.

Nutella is like the magic spread. It’s good on Wonder bread. It’s better on a baguette. And it’s the best baked into a cake with chocolate and ground hazelnuts, topped with chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. I wanted to celebrate the engagement of my friend Nikki with a cake that celebrates all that is gooey and decadent and chocolate-hazelnut-spread.

I found this recipe on one of my absolute favorite kitchen blogs, TheKitchn. This is not your mom’s Betty Crocker box cake. It is flourless, it has six eggs, and it’s laden with melted chocolate and nuts. Melted chocolate + 6 eggs – flour = dense brownie like mass of deliciousness personified. I was never good at calculus, but that’s math I can do.

On the menu: Nutella Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache
Adapted from Nigella Lawson, very slightly adapted from The Painted Peach

Cake:
6 large eggs, separated
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 13-ounce container Nutellla
1 tablespoon rum
1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Ganache:
4 ounces whole hazelnuts
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup Nutella

Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl (preferably metal), whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. In another bowl, cream the butter and Nutella, then add the rum, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in melted chocolate.

Add a blob of beaten egg whites to the chocolate batter, and mix gently until well-combined. Fold in the remaining whites, one-third at a time, very gently but thoroughly. Pour into springform and bake for 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick, which should come out mostly clean; lightly pressing finger into top to check for a slight bouncing-back; and observing edges beginning to separate from pan. Let cool completely, in pan, on a rack.

Ganache:
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet shaking them around frequently. Do it for about 4 minutes, or until they are lightly browned, then let cool completely.

Chop chocolate and put in a heat-proof bowl. Heat cream over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edge. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute. Add Nutella and stir until combined. Let cool. Remove the rim of the cake pan and pour the ganache over the cake. Spread for a glossy finish, letting the ganache drip over the edges of the cake. Sprinkle toasted hazelnuts over the top.

And then proceed to eat your face off.

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Just a taste

I have a post that I’m dying to share but seeing as the dish is a “gift” of sorts, I don’t want to ruin the surprise in case the giftee happens to read this blog. And so, friends, I give you a teaser. Check back tomorrow night for the big reveal…

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What’s good, Cupcake?

A brilliant thing has been happening to me. I’ve been getting paid to bake. You heard me. PAID. To BAKE. It’s unheard of and I am loving it. This past weekend I baked a batch of cupcakes for the cast of the show that my good friend Becca is working on. She told me I could go nuts – so I thoughts nuts. Peanuts.

On the menu: Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate peanut butter ganache frosting
(this recipe is c/o Cupcakeblog.com – I just added the peanut butter)

Makes 24 cupcakes

5.4 ounces dark chocolate (I used 50% cocoa Lindt bars)
22 tablespoons butter
1 and 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
4 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350. Melt chocolate and butter over a water bath. Add sugar and stir, let mixture cool for 10 minutes. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp butter (room temperature)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined. Add butter and vanilla and stir until combined. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture and let cool for 10 minutes. Sift powdered sugar into the mixture and beat until combined. Continue to beat with an electric mixer until lighter in color and slightly stiffened. Beat in peanut butter until combined.

I can not say enough about how amazing Cupcakeblog.com is. I aspire to be this woman.

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