Posts Tagged ‘sweets’


While reading the Trader Joe’s Culinary Compendium (a delight in and of itself — see below) that arrived in the post last week, it contained this delicious tidbit, amongst others:

Early ovens didn’t have thermostats, hence the cookie. Back in 7th Century Persia, cakes were all the rage and cooking them required just the right oven temperature. With no needles, dials or digits as indicators, cooks would place “little cakes” in the oven as testers. Eventually, these sweet oven gauges became a prize on their own.

It goes on to add that the word cookie is actually a derivative of the Dutch koekje (-je being the singular diminuitive).   All of this is, by the way, particularly entertaining because I only recently (in the last year or so) discovered (courtesy of M.) the concept of test cookies:

test cookie

Cue shot of infinite mirrors?  Though, I have to say, I’ve also made little test cakes recently as well, but being that I am in possession of  such kitchen paraphernalia as needles, dials and digits, they turn out fine and end up not as cookies but simply as itty bitty cakes. (Which then spawned the succession of itty bitty triple-layer cakes…)

Anyways, the Compendium:



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candles & cakes

Very briefly.

coconutcakeLast week two of my loveliest colleagues celebrated their birthdays, and the confluence pushed me over into bake mode.  Not that that’s very difficult.  This latest concoction (another modification of the pistachio cake recipe) was three layers of macadamia nut cake, separated by layers of dark chocolate ganache and toasted coconut flakes, then frosted with the ganache all round.



Meanwhile, a few weeks earlier, I made this one for my best friend’s surprise-but-not-quite birthday dinner: a lemon-blueberry macadamia nut cake.  The three layers here were also macadamia nut cakes (as construable from the sentence prior), but with lemon glaze and blueberry preserves in the space between, and topped with a lemon buttercream frosting (that needs to be, well, improved) and fresh blueberries.

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innardsSo finally–! My entrée into the world of cakes, after a long interlude on the back burner.  We went to LA for Labor Day, where my lovely aunties had a surprise birthday party at Fraîche ready in waiting for Daddy. Anyways, I found the recipe for this chocolate pistachio & marzipan petit-four cake at Smitten Kitchen, and baked it for Daddy’s birthday, very covertly schlepping it down by plane.  It only occurred to me partway through that a three-layer cake was probably a little daunting for my very first cake bake, but it was actually simpler than I thought and turned out spectacularly.  And it was perfect — nice pistachio cakes separated by layers of chocolate ganache, homemade marzipan and apricot preserves.

The not-so-laborious odyssey, chronicled

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the itty bitty cake

ittybittycakeBack in August, when I was exploring cakes to make for Daddy’s birthday party in LA (a long overdue post that is coming shortly — I promise) I found the recipe for this cake on Smitten Kitchen that was deemed a must for all chocolate-and-peanut-butter lovers.  That would be Mommy.  So when she came to visit this weekend, I baked her her own itty bitty, four-inch, triple-layer chocolate peanut-butter cake.  Note: itty bitty four-inch cakes require a (successful) search for itty bitty four-inch cakepans.  

A little bit more on making the little bitty cake!

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hummingbirds & strawberries

After spending the early afternoon under a tree at one of my neighborhood coffeeshops, I went to a gallery event showcasing Afro Celotto’s Murano glasswork.  The glass was beautiful — and whimsical at times, which was a delight — but my favorite discovery was a small painting (aptly named called “Hummers”) of these two lovely creatures.

Later, since this weekend had me back on bake fiend mode and Trader Joe’s had some great strawberries, I spent a few hours baking a strawberry pie (which Mommy has been making me since before I can recall), eating fresh strawberries and cream on the balcony, and leisurely reading the Sunday paper.


amble on for the pie recipe!

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Yesterday morning, the lovely Nancy brought this delicious little chocolate cupcake by for me.  Nancy, who is no longer across the hall to tempt me daily with her sumptuous baked treats, concocts most of her creations from scratch with the freshest ingredients to give your taste buds a sweet spin of homespun goodness.  Today was no exception: a light, moist cupcake with homemade cream cheese frosting.  Mmm!

amble on for nancy’s easy frosting recipe!

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