Orange You Glad


Orange you glad I didn’t make these with pumpkin?


Because guys, seriously.  I know it’s fall.  You know it’s fall.  And pumpkin is exciting, (in fact, I have some yeast-raised pumpkin goodies coming for you soon…)
BUT good gracious gravy everyone has been blogging about pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin… Similar to all the white girls tweeting about PSL. (Sorry, not sorry.  At all.  lol.)

So, I rebelled.  These orange-colored cookies are actually made with oranges, not pumpkin.
I regret nothing.

These are super simple, using my 3-2-1 dough as a base recipe.  I made three batches- one vanilla, one chocolate, and one orange, then divided each in half.
The doughs were rolled up tightly, sliced, and baked into adorable little spirals.
They’re so cute I could squeal!!
SO cute, SO easy, and SO yummy.  It’s the trifecta of cookie perfection!

Can we just talk about how great slice-and-bake cookies are?  In love.

Anyways, these cookies are perfect for a Halloween party.
You can make the dough in advance, keep in the fridge all rolled up and ready, and whenever you want cookies, all that you have to do is thaw the dough, cut however many cookies you want, and bake!
*Note: these cookies bake best (hold their shape best) when baked from room temperature.

See you soon for more spooky treats!


Orange, Chocolate, and Vanilla Swirl Cookies 


For the vanilla dough:
225 grams (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
Two big pinches (scant 2 teaspoons) kosher salt
1 egg
Splash vanilla
360 grams (3 cups)flour

For the orange dough:
225 grams (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
Orange gel food coloring (optional)
Two big pinches (scant 2 teaspoons) kosher salt
1 egg
Splash vanilla
360 grams (3 cups) flour

For the chocolate dough:
225 grams (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter
90 grams (scant 1/2 cup unpacked) brown sugar
110 grams (heaping 1/2 cup) sugar
2 big pinches (scant 2 teaspoons) kosher salt
1 egg
300 grams (2 1/2 cups) flour
45 g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder

Directions (for all the doughs):

(For the orange dough only: rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips before beating the orange sugar, butter, salt, and food coloring together)
Beat the butter, salt, and sugar(s) together for 3 minhtes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 2 more minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the flour (or flour and cocoa powder, for chocolate dough).
Mix until a thick dough forms.
Divide into equal halves and form into rectangles.
Refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out each half into a rectangle between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.
Layer one chocolate half over a vanilla half, the other vanilla half over an orange half, and the other orange half over the leftover chocolate half.
Working gently and slowly, roll each up very tightly, making sure not to crack the dough.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Slice the cookies about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick with a sharp knife, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Do not chill your cookies!
Make sure they are room temperature; leave them on the counter as your preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set and the bottoms start to become lightly golden.


Olive Yew

Olive trees’ lifespans, on average, are between 300 and 600 years; the oldest known tree is 2000 years old. (!!!)
But… and there’s always a but… I hate olives.  I’m sorry.  I do.  
I just can’t bring myself to like them… They’re sort of slimy, very squishy, and all together too salty.  
That being said, I love olive oil.  I’m not kidding.  The stuff runs through my veins.
Olive oil is liquid gold; the specialty stuff, even more so.
One of the most heavenly things on Earth is a fresh, hot baguette dipped in olive oil+Parmesan.  
There is nothing like it.
For those of you who live in Ithaca, you may have been to the little specialty olive oil and vinegar shop downtown, in the commons: F. Oliver’s.
Talk about wonderful olive oils.  I was in there the other day, recycling old bottles (If you have empty bottles from their store, don’t recycle them the regular way!  Take them down to the store and they will refill them for you or recycle and reuse them.), when I stumbled upon what may possibly be my favorite oil ever- even more so than coconut or toasted sesame- their fresh pressed blood orange olive oil.
Laaaaaawd is it good.  Mix it with some pomegranate molasses and you have the most deliciously tangy salad dressing ever.
I also got some Tuscan garden olive oil.  Gorgeous in a balsamic vinaigrette.
And no, unfortunately enough, I am not getting paid to say these things.
I wish.
Anyways, in addition to picking up some fancy schmancy new oils, I learned that F. Oliver’s is having a recipe contest.
Basically, you develop your best recipe using their oils or vinegars, send it in, and keep your fingers crossed.
The winner gets a free bottle of vinegar or oil every month for the rest of the year!
Obviously, I want to win.  Come on… Imagine all the avocado oil I could get. 
So I made a cake with blood orange olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
The cake itself is super soft, with a very fine, tight crumb.  The edges and top are ever so slightly crispy, which is a wonderful contrast to the tender interior.
It’s redolent with orange and almond, and it’s made with whole wheat flour.  
It’s a very virtuous cake, dairy-free, whole-wheat, with lots of healthy fats from the olive oil and almonds.  
I’ve paired it with fresh berries that have been roasted into a sticky, syrupy treat with a touch of sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar that is older than I; they’re complex and balance out the sweetness of the cake wonderfully.
Taming the sweetness even further is a simple whipped mascarpone that I dolloped on top.  It’s plain and unsweetened, but gives richness and body to the dish.  
I ate could eat it by the spoonful.
This is a lovely, quick cake, perfect for a brunch (Mother’s day, anyone?) or quick weeknight dessert.  
It’s also classy enough for a light dinner party finisher, sure to leave everyone’s sweet tooth satisfied without weighing them down.
When I say quick, I mean that this is a 2 bowl dessert; the cake is made with one utensil and the batter comes together in 5 minutes if you know your kitchen well; the strawberries roast at the same temperature as the cake and give you just enough time to prep and throw them in and then take them out at the same time as the cake, preventing unnecessary energy waste from an idle oven.
You can serve the cake and compote warm from the oven, so you don’t have to bother with cooling times, and the mascarpone takes all of 30 seconds to whip.
Olive this cake.  Eye really dew.

Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries and Whipped Mascarpone
(that’s a mouthful)
for the cake:
175 g white whole wheat flour (1 1/3 cups)
75 g almond meal (2/3 cup)
12 g baking powder (2 teaspoons)
8 g kosher salt (1 heaping teaspoon)

80 g granulated sugar (1/3 cup)
120 g brown sugar (very loosely packed 2/3 cup)
zest of one orange
135 g F. Oliver’s fresh pressed blood orange extra virgin olive oil (2/3 cup)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
140 g freshly squeezed orange juice (2/3 cup), from about 1 1/2 oranges
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with 2 inch sides.  (Alternatively, you could use an 8-inch with 3 inch sides or a 10-inch with 1 1/2 inch sides.)
Whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

In another bowl, place the sugars, orange zest, olive oil, and eggs, and whisk vigorously to combine, about 2 minutes.  Mixture should lighten in color.
Whisk the vanilla extract and orange juice into the sugar mixture.
Whisking constantly, slowly add in the flour mixture.
Mix until batter is homogeneous.  
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake is deeply golden and springy to the touch, and a tester comes out with only a couple crumbs.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then unmold from pan and allow to cool fully.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve with balsamic roasted strawberries and whipped mascarpone.

for the strawberries:
260 g chopped strawberries (2 cups)
15 g granulated sugar (1 tablespoon)
20 g F. Oliver’s 18-year old special reserve balsamic vinegar (1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon)
splash vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 (or make these simultaneously to the cake).
Toss strawberries with sugar, vinegar, and vanilla.
Spread out in an even layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 20-24 minutes, until softened and caramelized.  
Strawberries should be slightly sticky.
Stir around to fully coat each strawberry with the sauce, and serve slightly warm.

for the whipped mascarpone:
5 tablespoons mascarpone
3 tablespoons half and half
Using an immersion blender, food processor, or stand- or hand-mixer, beat mascarpone and half and half together until very fluffy and light.
Store in refrigerator until use; serve chilled.


Now that spring/summer is finally/almost here, oranges are on their way out.
(I’m trying not to jinx the weather, people.  The weather gods are a fickle bunch.)
In a few short weeks- days even- oranges will be forgotten among the lovely rhubarb, luscious berries, and, my favorite, the stone fruits.
(Now I want a peach. Ugh.)
But tis time.  Oranges, like most citrus fruit, are for wintertime enjoyment.
You might still have a few lying around; slowly losing their juicy interior and their peel becoming ever so slightly wrinkled.
Juice ’em.  And make these bars.
Honestly, the prep for these takes about 20 minutes.  Start to finish.  
Then it’s just 25 minutes in the oven.
Even if you are making something else on the side and keep running out of eggs and butter and needing to run downstairs to your storage fridge like FOUR times. FOUR.
Even if your gosh darned can opener is being moody. 
These bars go from your mind to your stomach in less than an hour.
They are so creamy and dense, the way good lemon bars should be- but they’re orange bars. 
They’re sweeter and have a softer, mellower flavor, in the best way possible.
Seriously addictive.
I cut mine into tiny little 1 inch squares, because that means I can eat 5 at once. Duh.
I was going to be super lazy and post this as a wordless Wednesday.
A few problems with that:
a) I’m not a cool enough blogger for that.  I don’t do wordless Wednesdays or WIAW or weekly rewinds.  My blog is clearly lacking in the W department.
b) Without words, it would be difficult for me to describe how awesome these bars were.  
c) I’m bossy and I want you to make these.  How can I do that without YELLING AT YOU?

Orange Bars
for the crust:
adapted from Joanne Chang
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
for the filling:
adapted from Martha
4 egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup orange/lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon plus enough orange juice to make it to 3/4 cup, it took me about 1 1/2 oranges)
big pinch salt
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until softened. 
Add the sugar and salt and beat on medium-high speed until extremely fluffy and light, about 3 minutes.  
Scrape the bowl and add the flour.
Mix on low speed until just beginning to combine; add the egg yolk and mix on low speed until everything is combined and the dough is forming small crumbles.
Transfer the dough to the pan and press out evenly.
Freeze for 10 minutes.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm but puffy and slightly golden.
Meanwhile, whisk all the ingredients for the filling together.
Pour over hot crust and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is firmly set.
Remove from oven and let cool, then freeze for 30-45 minutes if you want a very dense bar (how I like them). 
Remove from the freezer and cut into squares; let thaw and dust with confectioner’s sugar before eating.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Short and sweet today, y’all.
(I have a nap penciled in in about 15 minutes.  I’m very busy.  Island time.  It happens.)
This is a cake I made a few months back, to celebrate (mourn?) the end of my basketball season.
Yes, it’s taken me that long to get around to writing this post.  I’m a little slow on the uptake.
It was pretty ridiculous, ridiculously indulgent, and indulgently delicious.  
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like the combination of chocolate and orange.
Seriously.  One of my favorite things in the entire world, ever, is those chocolate-orange things.  You know, the chocolates which look like oranges and have orange in them and separate into little orange wedges?
Chocolate and cheesecake, a match made in heaven, is only made better by the addition of orange.
But I didn’t stop there.  I have no self-control, remember?  
Nay, I kept going.  “What else can I add into this cake?”
Well, nutella… 
Ugh.  Dead.  I’m dead.  That’s it.  There’s no going back; my tastebuds will no longer accept anything but this.
Here’s a secret, just between you and me:
These photos were taken the night before our last practice, meaning that I cut a slice out of the cake just to take photos- not the most, erhm, proper behavior in the world.
How rude!  I do de-clay-uh.
So, I took the photos, and slid it back in place.
Spackled the frosting back together, strategically placed some chocolate curls over the evidence, and served it the next day.
No one noticed.  
Can you tell how badly I want to be a southern belle?  
(The font I always use, for the record, is Georgia.)

Mouthful (Chocolate-Nutella-Orange-Cheesecake) Cake
For the cheesecake layer:
(from Piece of Cake via RecipeGirl)
16 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 
Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. 
Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. 
Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. 
Wrap a double layer of foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn’t seep into the pan). 
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. 
Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. 
Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. 
Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. 
Mix until smooth. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 
Set the pan into the roasting pan in the pre-heated oven. 
Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the roasting pan (it will fill the pan surrounding the cheesecake). 
Pour enough water so that there is about an inch of water coming up the foil along the sides of the cheesecake pan. 
Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. 
It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. 
Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. 
When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. 

For the cake layers:
adapted from Gourmet via epicurious

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch (you can also use 2 3/4 cups cake flour, omitting the cornstarch and AP flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large whole eggs
zest of one entire orange
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup sour cream or buttermilk
1/3 cup milk
handful of mini chocolate chips; enough for a healthy sprinkling on two 9 inch layers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
Rub the sugar and zest together with your fingers until very fragrant.
Beat the butter until softened, then add in the orange sugar.
Cream together until very fluffy and light, about 3 minutes.
Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping after each addition, then add in the vanilla.
Stir the sour cream, juice, and milk together.
Stir the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt together.
Either alternate adding the wet and dry or slowly dump them in at the same time (my preferred method… Just go slow so the flour doesn’t go all over).
Mix just until homogeneous, then pour into prepared pans.
Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the batter, and bake until golden and springy to the touch, about 20-25 minutes.  A cake tester should come out nearly clean, with perhaps just a few crumbs sticking on.
Allow to cool completely before assembling the cake.
For the frosting:
2 sticks butter
1 3/4- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
big pinch salt
3/4 cup Ovaltine
1/2 cup nutella
splash vanilla extract
splash cream, if needed
Beat butter until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add in the ovaltine, nutella, salt, and vanilla, and beat to combine.
Slowly add in the powdered sugar, tasting to check the sweetness. (If you need more powdered sugar to thicken the consistency, be sure to add in a pinch more salt; you can also add in some more ovaltine for thickening.)
Play with the amount of powdered sugar to thicken the frosting; environments differ and really affect the thickness/pipeability.  If you need it to really thicken, don’t add too much more sugar or ovaltine, instead, stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up.
If your frosting is too thick, add a splash of cream, about 2 teaspoons at a time, to thin it out a bit.  Don’t add too much, and wait between additions, because if it becomes soupy, there’s no going back.
To assemble:
Apply a thin layer of icing on the chocolate chip side of the first layer.
Place the frozen cheesecake layer on top, and spread another thin layer on top of that.
Place the second cake layer, chocolate chip side up, on top of the cheesecake.
Crumb-coat the whole cake in a thin layer of frosting, then chill it, either in the freezer or fridge, for 10-15 minutes in the freezer or 15-20 in the fridge.
Take the cake out and generously frost it with the remaining icing.
To smooth out the sides, dip an offset spatula in hot water, wipe it off, and gently run it on the outside of the cake.

Top with chocolate curls, if desired.

Caya Hico

I am not prepared to be talking about my WISE project.
I am not doing much thinking at all, let alone about my WISE project.
At this moment, I could more or less give two clucks about my WISE project.
JK but not really.
Sorry Ms. Lord.
See y’all, I’m in the Turks and Caicos.  Taking a nice, warm holiday.
I’ve been in dire need of one (FWP, I know, I know).
I am treating myself to some R&R.
There are times when even the most diligent student, which I myself am not necessarily, must take three deep breaths, look left and right, and take a nap.
This is my nap.  I shall enjoy it without regret and certainly without guilt.
March is a tough month, school-work wise.  It’s the time when the Great Review starts.
It is the time when you look back on your year, as you prepare to relearn everything, and think to yourself, aghast,
my god, have I been asleep this whole time?
While many of my other classes have been piling on the work, I’m happy to say that I’ve been staying on my WISE grind.  
Even on days when I am dog-tired, I can find it in me to get up and make something.
In fact, that’s my preferred method of relaxation (when not taking a holiday, that is).
See, that’s the beauty of choosing this project.  
I love it.  It comes naturally for me.
It’s not work.  It’s play, and I’m glad of it.
I had class the other day, and it was suggested that I do some more introspective writing, in regards to why this project fits me so well and how, or if, it will fit into my future.
It’ll take me some time to think about.
Perhaps even a week or so…
I’m on island time… Can you really blame me?
Caya Hico
coconut mochi
banana sponge
orange-maracuya curd
coconut foam
lime flower
You crazy if you think I’m going to type out recipes right now… You can find the mochi recipe in last month’s archives on my blog.  The rest… You’re on your own.  Loveyameanit.


Somehow, coming round in a full circle can be both comforting and disconcerting.
One encounters things familiar, even soothing, yes, but with this familiarity often comes a sense of stagnation, of dejà-vu.
Il faut qu’on se demande pourquoi on y est arrivé encore une fois: par mégarde ou délibérément?
One must ask oneself why one has arrived there yet again: by accident or on purpose?
As I breezed through these photos, tweaking the too-bright exposure and blue tints that were the result of reflections off of the snow the day that I shot them, I had a strange sense of already having edited them.
The coloring, and, in truth, the plating, of this dessert were similar to those of the first one I ever attempted.
I was struck by it.  
I asked myself, is your project becoming prosaic?  Are your desserts becoming less and less distinctive?
(Sounds like I’m doubting myself a lot in these WISE posts, don’t it?)
I realize that the desserts are different; in fact, I cringe looking back on my first dessert.  
Nowadays I can (usually) bear to look through the photos.
I say usually because there are times when I look down at a plate and hate it.
 There are times where I redo said plate, look down, and hate it even more.
There are plates that are messy, cluttered, ugly.
There are ice creams that become soup in the time it takes me to lift up my camera.
There are mousses that don’t set and there are mealy caviar.
There are desserts that are contrived from their very conception.
Before I made the dessert that you see here, I had a failed experiment which involved nearly all of those situations.
The flavors (olive oil, orange, almond, and dark chocolate) paired beautifully, but the ways I chose to present them just didn’t click.
The burnt-orange ice cream recipe, which I got from Gourmet, was quite tasty, but didn’t set when I spun it in my ice cream maker.
It didn’t set when I tried to freeze it solid.
So, I whipped some cream and folded it into the base to make a mousse.
And hey! look! it froze!
And hey! look! it melted upon first contact with ambient temperature!
And hey! look! I made soup!
Needless to say, that dessert was a messy, soupy disaster.
I was unhappy with the photographs and unhappy with the presentation.
I felt I used too many components and didn’t put enough thought into the plating beforehand.
(I had a meltdown… Get it?!)
I set out to make a new dessert, with ideas of clean, simple plating floating around my brain.
In light of the new Argentinian pope, I decided to utilize a very popular Latin American flavor combination: chocolate and passion fruit.  (Also happens to be one of my personal favorite flavor combinations).
(Don’t ask me where these weird ideas come from. There is a small, wizened, and mostly blind old man somewhere in a dusty control room in the back of my brain pushing and prodding on the decidedly wrong buttons and these are the thoughts that result.)
Ah.  Anyways.  Latin American.  Yes.
I decided I wanted to bring some Italian influence into the dessert.
(The pope chose an Italian saint’s name… It all makes sense.)
I had just bought a gigantic bulk bag of hazelnuts, so hazelnuts it was going to be.
(Apparently hazelnuts equate Italian.  I don’t know.)
In using this so-called “Italian” influence, I now get to use fancy names for things… 
Nocciola gelato?  Hazelnut ice cream (with a lower fat content but, whatever, get over it.  Gelato and ice cream are just short of identical when homemade.)
Gianduja? Nutella.
Vive le pape!
gianduja ganache
passion fruit crème
roasted milk and white chocolate mousse
dark chocolate and passion fruit bonbons
nocciola gelato
Why Asisium?  It’s Italian for Assisi, as in St. Francis of Assisi, as in Pope Francis’ namesake. Plus, it sounds grand.  Can’t you just hear Pavarotti singing it in the background?

for the roasted milk and white chocolate mousse:
100 g milk and white chocolate; I went almost exactly halfsies
1 egg yolk
110 g cream
12 g sugar
1/8 tsp gelatin bloomed in 1 teaspoon cream

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Place chopped chocolate in a baking pan and bake, stirring vigorously with a spatula every 15 minutes, until extremely fragrant, about 40 minutes.
The chocolate will have caramelized; you won’t see much of a color change because there is milk chocolate in addition to the white chocolate, but if you taste it, you will notice a distinctly more complex flavor.
Pour into a bowl; you should have about 85 g of chocolate. If you have more, eat it!
Heat cream, yolk, sugar until 175 d F.
Strain over chocolate.
Allow to sit until chocolate is melted.
Stir in bloomed gelatin and pour into molds.
Freeze until use; place on plate to temper at least 5 minutes before service.

for the nocciola gelato:
1/2 cup milk
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
Heat the milk until simmering. Pour in hazelnuts and steep for at least 2 hours and up to a few days, in the fridge.
Strain and discard the hazelnuts.
Blend all ingredients together with an immersion or regular blender, then pour into a pot and heat gently, stirring constantly, until custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Let cool completely, then spin in an ice cream maker.

for the dark chocolate bonbons:
adapted from Elizabeth LaBau

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, tempered
1 tablespoon cream
1 teaspoon glucose
1/3 cup passion fruit pulp (find it in the frozen section with other Goya products)
4.5 ounces white chocolate, chopped
Bring passion fruit purée, glucose, and cream to a boil.  
Place the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and pour the cream mixture over.  
Allow to sit for 2 minutes without touching, then stir gently until the ganache is smooth and homogeneous.  
Allow to cool.
Coat your molds with the tempered chocolate, then pipe in a little of the ganache.  
Seal with more chocolate and allow to harden.

for the passion fruit crème:
adapted from Milk Bar
65 g passion fruit puree
35 g sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon gelatin
6 tablespoons butter, cold
1 g kosher salt
Blend the puree and the sugar and egg together until the sugar granules have dissolved and the mixture is smooth.  
Pour into a pan; clean the blender.
Bloom the gelatin in 1 tablespoon cold water.
Heat the passion fruit curd over low heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil.  
Remove from heat and add it to the cleaned blender.  
Add the gelatin, butter, and salt, and blend until the mixture is “thick, shiny, and super-smooth.”
Allow to cool completely.

for the gianduja:
roughly 1 2/3 cups hazelnuts
scant 1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
big pinch salt
1/3 cup milk powder (or more, to taste)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat.
Bring the sugar to a boil in a dry saucepan, and allow to cook until it reaches a golden-amber color.  
Immediately stir in the hazelnuts, working quickly.
Spread out the brittle onto the silpat as thinly and evenly as possible.
Allow to cool completely, then break into chunks.
Pulverize the praline with the grapeseed oil until liquidy and almost entirely smooth.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.
Taste and adjust for your preferences; I wanted this spread to be a deep, dark, chocolate, so I didn’t add much sugar, but I did add a nice big pinch of salt.
Can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks (But it won’t last that long…)

to assemble:
Plate the gianduja first; use a chilled plate.
Pipe a few dots of passion fruit cream around the plate.
Place the bonbons where you would like, then follow with the mousse.
As soon as the mousse is out of the freezer/mold, work quickly, as it will melt.
Next, quenelle a scoop of the gelato and place in the center of the plate.


My dearest readers… If there are any of you… (Mom and Dad, if you guys have been visiting my blog hundreds of times more than once daily, you are giving me false hope. STOP.)
Think not that this blog has fallen to the wayside, nor become a wasteland of sweets lost in the vast Internet.
I promise I’m still here! And today, to make up for my long absence, I have four cakes for you. 
Baked, decorated, delivered, devoured and demolished in the span of 24 hours.
This hectic succession of cakes was brought on by the overwhelming number of September birthdays.
Now why did I feel compelled to bake for four birthdays which fall on a successive Monday and Tuesday? Because I’m stupid crazy kind of a little teeny bit nice sometimes.  Like once every seven months.  Mainly I’m just too preoccupied with whining to be kind.
And now that I’m on the subject of whining, I might as well get some of my daily bellyaching over with now.
My oven and I are fast friends and mortal enemies. We have a love/hate relationship, which is comprised mainly of hot, burning hatred for the other.
I swear, this fancy “Wolf” oven is more temperamental than me.  I mean, god, it’s no wonder we don’t get along.
Sometimes, like last week, for example, my oven will be set to 350 degrees F and still manage to burn hot enough to scorch the bottoms of half of a batch of otherwise perfect chocolate macadamia shortbreads.  Awesome. I love trying to scrape blackened ash off of flaming hot cookies. Said no one ever.
On the flip side, when I’m trying to bake a simple and tiny, mind you, boule, something I’ve done literally HUNDREDS of times before, this handy appliance will be blasting at 500 degrees F with a nice steamy inside for a crunchy crispy crust and will still take 50 minutes to bake the damn loaf of bread (Teeny! Loaf! Of! Bread!). How hard can it be, man?!  Get your act together.
Sometimes I wish we could work together more harmoniously, but when I have four cakes that turn out just beautifully, with none sticking to the pan, none over nor underdone, none with domes nor crevasses, I am grateful for my stupidly expensive oven.

Brown Butter Almond Bundt 
for the cake:
2 sticks of butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup slivered almonds (optional)
Generously butter and flour a 10 cup bundt pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Brown butter in a large saucepan.  Meanwhile, combine sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Once the butter is browned, add it to the sugar and mix until combined.  Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the milk and slowly add to the sugar mixture.  Once homogeneous, add in the flour and baking powder, and mix until combined.  Stir in almonds.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted all the way into the cake comes out with relatively few crumbs.
for the glaze:
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch sea salt
handful slivered almonds, toasted in a pan (optional)
Heat cream until almost boiling, pour over chocolate chips and salt and allow to sit for three minutes.  Stir together until shiny and completely melted; pour over cooled cake and garnish with toasted slivered almonds.

English Tea Cake

for the cake:
adapted from Sky High
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk (save the white)
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter 3 6-inch pans, line with parchment paper, then butter the paper.  Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together, then return to the sifter.  Whip the cream and vanilla to soft peaks, then add the sugar and beat just until combined (not to stiff peaks).  Then add the egg and egg yolk and whip the mixture to soft peaks.  Sift a third of the dry ingredients over the batter and fold in.  Repeat until the dry ingredients are all incorporated.  Fold in the buttermilk and pour into pans.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
for the frosting:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch sea salt
1/6 cup strong English tea (I used Lady Grey)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
Place the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Combine sugar, salt, and tea in a small but heavy saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer.  Heat to 238 degrees F, without stirring.  Once the sugar syrup has reached 230 degrees, begin to whip the egg whites on low.  After the syrup has cooked, increase the mixer speed to medium low and slowly pour in the sugar syrup (do not pour on the whisk, as it will splash onto you).  Whip until the meringue is cooled and the bowl feels neutral to the touch.  Add in the butter one tablespoon at a time, until all is incorporated.
to assemble:
1/2 cup orange marmalade, slightly warmed in a microwave until spreadable
Place one cake on plate, top with 1/4 cup of the marmalade.  Repeat, then put the last layer on.  Frost with a crumb coat before adding the final coat of frosting.  I decorated mine with some handmade marzipan roses.  I dyed the marzipan with a few drops of fuchsia, yellow, and green gel coloring.
Cherry Garcia Cake
for the cake:
adapted from Sky High
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, chopped roughly
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped roughly
Heat buttermilk slightly in microwave, then add cherries and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.  Butter, line with parchment paper, and then butter (again) 3 6-inch pans.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat the sugar, salt, and butter together until creamy.  Add in the eggs, egg yolk, buttermilk, and vanilla (Whisk the wet ingredients together first.).  Next, add in the flour and baking powder and mix until homogeneous.  Fold in chocolate chips and pour into prepared pans.  Bake for 22-24 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch.
for the frosting:
1 stick butter, at room temp
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup mascarpone
4-4 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup sour cherry jam (I used D’arbo)
Beat the butter, cream cheese, and salt together until fluffy.  Add in the powdered sugar slowly, then beat in the jam.  Taste as you go, and beyond 4 cups, only add more sugar if you want it sweeter.
to assemble:
2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream, heated until almost boiling
Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for at least 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, frost the cake and place in fridge to set.  Once the chocolate chips have melted, stir the ganache together until it is shiny and smooth.  Pour over the top of the cake.  Do not refrigerate the cake with ganache on it.
Mocha Cake
for the cake:
adapted from Sweetapolita
6 ounces flour
10 ounces brown sugar
3 ounces cocoa powder
2 tablespoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup coffee
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter 3 6-inch pans and dust with cocoa powder and flour mixed together.  Weigh dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix until there are no clumps and all are thoroughly combined.  In a large measuring cup, add the oil, buttermilk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla, and whisk with a fork.  Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until homogeneous.  Pour into prepared pans and bake for 22-24 minutes.
for the frosting:
adapted from Sky High
4 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 sticks butter
4 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon espresso powder, or to taste
Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth and well combined.    
for the chocolate curls or shavings 
Melt chocolate, gently, then spread thinly over a cookie sheet and allow to harden.  Using a cheese knife or a putty knife, slowly but firmly push the chocolate off the sheet.  It will curl up.