Plum Torte

Gabe and I just got back from our honeymoon at last: a whirlwind trip to London and Paris! We also celebrated our one-year anniversary and Gabe’s completion of the California Bar Exam, so we killed three birds with one stone.

Speaking of stones, I spent the weeks before our trip practically swimming in stone fruit. Peaches, plums, nectarines, you name it! I ate most of it raw, but sometimes it was just a wee bit too much to handle. So I turned it into dessert.

This plum torte recipe from the New York Times is quite famous but new to me. It’s a great way to use up a bounty of summer fruit. Shortly before we left for Europe, I gave it a whirl, baking an assortment of 10 plums into a delightful torte.

And then just a mere week later, I saw a very similar cake at one of Ottolenghi’s  London delis. So I ordered a ginormous slab of it and ate the entire thing while sitting on a patch of grass outside Buckingham Palace. I could barely move afterwards, but it was totally worth it. Gotta catch that summer stone fruit while you can!

Plum torte

Plum torte

Plum torte

Plum Torte

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 small plums (or 8-10 larger ones), halved and pitted
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon mixed with 1 Tbs. sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Place granulated sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes or so. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix on medium speed (scraping the bowl occasionally) until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. The batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to a 9-inch springform pan and spread it out evenly. Gently press the plum halves into the batter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. If your springform pan has a tendency to leak, place it on a large jellyroll pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the cake (not inserted into a plum) comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Serves 8-12.

Source: Very slightly adapted from Marian Burros and the New York Times via Smitten Kitchen.

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Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Last Sunday was my sister’s birthday. I woke up bright and early on Saturday (early because my butter was tragically frozen solid the night before), determined to whip up her favorite birthday combo: yellow cake and chocolate frosting. I don’t know about you, but I can bounce out of bed before sunrise if it means I get to play around with cake batter and frosting.

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting

It was a lovely Saturday morning. Sprinkles and frosting abounded. And then Gabe, his best friend, my sister, and I all drove down to our old college town to frolic in the sunshine.

And then something bigger than yellow cupcakes and chocolate buttercream happened.

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting

This quiet weekend suddenly became a dizzying combo of laughter, tears, champagne, ridiculously good food, balloons, candles, racing hearts, and giddy joy.

And at the end of it all, bleary-eyed and overjoyed, I snuggled up to my guy and enjoyed a leftover cupcake with chocolate frosting. Simply perfect.

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 Yellow Cupcakes

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs and 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F and line two muffin tins with paper liners. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined. Be sure to stop and scrape the bowl occasionally.

In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and vanilla extract. With mixer on low speed, alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream mixture a little bit at a time, starting and ending with the flour.

When batter is smooth and well combined, pour into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes and place on a rack until cool. Frost as desired.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher flake sea salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla or hazelnut extract
  • 2 Tbs. milk or cream

Whip butter on medium speed in a stand mixer for about 2 minutes. Turn off mixer and add powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Slowly stir until the sugar and cocoa are well combined, then add salt, vanilla extract, and milk. Turn the speed up to medium and whip for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Pipe on cooled cupcakes and serve.

Makes 3 cups frosting.

Source: Cake from Annie’s Eats. Chocolate buttercream very slightly adapted from Savory Sweet Life.

Super Bowl Recap

A couple weekends ago we had friends over to watch football, cheer on Beyonce, critique advertisements, and eat chicken wings. (The most American of gatherings.) I like to get guests involved by hosting potluck-style parties, but I always make sure to whip up several dishes of my own. Wouldn’t want to be caught without any food at all!

For some whimsical decor, I made a table runner by plunking down a roll of chalkboard Contact paper and drawing 10-yard lines on it with chalk. (Note: The paper needs to be prepped first by lightly coloring the whole thing with chalk and then wiping it off. Gives me the heeby-jeebies just thinking about all those squeaky chalk noises, but there’s nothing I won’t do for my guests.)

Super Bowl Party | Lingonberry Jam

Besides hanging out with awesome friends and giggling at that Oreo commercial, these cupcakes were my favorite part of the party. For the toppers, I made a half-batch of chocolate cut-out cookies and decorated them to look like footballs using royal icing. I don’t actually own a football-shaped cookie cutter, so I improvised. Pastry wheel to the rescue!

Super Bowl Party | Lingonberry Jam

Then I made chocolate cupcakes and decorated them with buttercream frosting dyed green, piping on the grass with a Wilton 233 tip. This was my first time piping grass, and I couldn’t get over the cuteness. (Picture me perched on a stool at the kitchen island just giggling.) Carefully pushing the football cookies into the center of the cupcakes completed the ensemble, and there were plenty of leftover cookies to boot.

Once the most important part of the menu was finalized, it was just a matter of cooking up some fun snack foods. Gabe made brats and hamburgers shortly after halftime, and even though we were all stuffed, we couldn’t pass them up. It was the Super Bowl!

Thanks to friends for bringing calico beans, peanut butter cookies, chips ‘n’ dip, and other goodies. And beer, of course. Here’s a recap of the recipes I used:

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Super Bowl Party Foods

Eyeball Cupcakes

Gabe and I are busy preparing to host a Halloween party that’s happening in, oh, less than three hours, and we’ve made a smorgasbord of treats. Creepy stuff like this isn’t usually my forte, but I saw these cupcakes and just had to make them. (Perhaps I was channeling my ophthalmologist father who obviously doesn’t find eyeballs creepy?) Kudos to Gabe for the awesome blood-vessel-piping skills!

This was, believe it or not, my first vanilla cupcake that didn’t come from a boxed mix. In the spirit of “make-it-from-scratch-osity” I decided to go super homemade. These little babies delivered. Gabe pronounced them “better-than-Magnolia’s.” At least, I think that’s what he said. His mouth was full of cupcake.

P.S. Here’s a sneak peek of another spooky treat we’re serving tonight! Recipe to follow!

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Coconut Pecan Frosting

My birthday always seems to fall smack in the middle of the busiest time of the school year, and this year was no different. Since I had just made a bunch of cupcakes for Gabe’s birthday and was heading out of town soon, there was no reason to bake even more cake for my own.

Until Wednesday night. Gabe surprised me when I came home from the first day of my internship with a delicious dinner and belated birthday cupcakes. And they were my favorite: German chocolate.

I’m not a huge frosting fan, but I could eat this stuff with a spoon. (And I do…) It’s the perfect mixture of sweetness, creaminess, and nuttiness. Since Gabe is lactose-intolerant and it’s a bit of a time crunch to make homemade lactose-free evaporated milk, he substituted coconut milk. It worked perfectly, adding another layer of coconut flavor.

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Chocolate Pudding Cake

May is a busy month. Between a dozen birthdays (including both mine and Gabe’s), Mother’s Day, and the end of the semester, there’s a lot of celebrating to do. Which means a lot of cake-eating. (Bummer.)

I just returned from Minnesota for my little sister’s college graduation. It was a crazy fun weekend with family and friends, but now I’m laid up on the couch with a fever and sore throat, apparently reprising the sickness after my own graduation three years ago. So I’m eating chicken soup and strawberry popsicles and dreaming about chocolate pudding cake.

This recipe is near and dear to my heart. It comes from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Children’s Cookbook and was one of the first things I learned to bake all by myself. Also, it’s one of the most delicious cakes ever: warm, gooey, and chocolatey. Perfect for both celebrations and sore throats…

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Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and I’ve heard that Boston gets pretty excited for the holiday. (Understatement of the century.) My baby sister is flying in to Logan around 5:00 P.M. on Saturday, so we’re guaranteed to have an interesting T-ride home.

In preparation for the shenanigans, I’ve been practicing my green baking. Sorry, not eco-friendly baking… rather, baking green things. First on the list, chocolate peppermint cupcakes.

Just a word of warning, these cupcakes are not for people in a hurry. Making them is a very putsy process, involving two different pastry bags, two mixing bowls, and a saucepan. But when I watched Gabe take his first bite and goosebumps literally crept up his arm from sheer delight, it was totally worth it.

P.S. Shout-out to my dear friend Susanne for giving me the awesome cupcake liners!

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