Tag Archives: yum

Let them eat…

Title_Image_1Although I definitely have a complicated relationship with my own birthday, I am totally down with O.P.B. [YEAH YOU KNOW ME] For those of you who don’t appreciate the Naughty by Nature reference, I think we can all agree that the beauty of celebrating Other People’s Birthdays is that we are all able to partake in the merriment without the burden of the spotlight. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing, weirdos)

BirthdayCake_1

For my fellow introverts, I’m sure you appreciate the following:

  1. The sadistic enjoyment of watching the Birthday Boy/Girl’s comfort level plummet as he/she is obnoxiously sung to and clapped at before receiving a mediocre, but hopefully comped dessert. Usually in the form of: a) “Molten” Lava Cake (Chili’s), b) créme brulée (Upscale Chili’s), or c) ice cream scoop with candle (Japanese restaurant).
  2. Reveling in the continuity of your own youth while family members or co-workers around the water cooler repeatedly ask the Birthday Boy/Girl “So, HOW old are you NOW??”
  3. Cashing in on the comp’d lunch and cake at work while the Birthday Boy/Girl wishes they were a million other places.
  4. The Pay-it-Forward feeling when signing that “Hope all your wishes come true! XOXO” card.

Cheesecake

Ultimately, we get to sing off-key, stay “x” years young, eat cake, and revel in the celebrations at the expense of the celebratee. Bystanders’ win. Of course we don’t get presents or anything, which kind of rock, but cake! We get cake!

BirthdayCake_2

And on that note, a chocolate cake and a cheesecake: 

Fudgy Chocolate Cake:
(Adapted from Emandal Farm Celebration cookbook)

Cake:
1.5 C sugar
1.25 C Flour
.75 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
1 C buttermilk
3 eggs
2.5 tsp vanilla
6 tsp butter
1 C hot coffee

Filling:
.75 C half and half
dash of salt
2/3 C sugar
.25 C butter
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
1 1/3 unsweetened coconut
.5 C walnuts or pecans (chopped)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 3 8″ round cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl. Melt butter in the hot coffee in another small bowl.

Beat half of the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients. Beat in half of the coffee mixture. Scrape the batter down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the remaining buttermilk and coffee mixtures.

Evenly pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 mins, or until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 mins. Cool completely (or freeze) before frosting.

To make filling, combine all ingredients (except vanilla, coconut and walnuts) in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until thick and bubbly – about 12 mins. Cool lightly and add the rest of the ingredients. Let cool completely before spreading on cake.

Cheesecake
Courtesy of the Miette Cookbook. Buy it- you’ll thank me later. (Thanks Sam!!)

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Just go with it

Title_Image_1

I’m going to be straightforward – this is a recipe for something called cracknuts. They are a fiery, addictive, hellish, fantastic mix of sweet, spicy, salty nuts that my roommate Molly famously makes and the rest of us famously eat despite our best efforts. They are given their name for this very lack of control that they induce on people. I finally asked Molly for the recipe and made them for my office christmas potluck and will be making them much more often now.

This recipe is pretty simple – mixed nuts, thrown together with sugar, water, salt, and insane quantities of fennel seeds (yes, fennel, go with it) and chile peppers. It may sound crazy, but the combination is insane in the best way. Molly first had them at a bed & breakfast and asked the owner for the recipe. And now they continue to sweep the nation!

These delicious nuts are not for the faint of heart – there is a truly outrageous amount of red pepper in there, and like all spicy foods they are vaguely masochistic. When making this recipe, it really feels like you put as much fennel and chile as you do nuts. Just go with it, though. It works. Especially when the fennel gets all stuck up in the walnuts (these are the moments us cooks savor). One of my new year’s resolutions (yes, here is where I tie it all together) is actually to embrace JFDI (just effing do it) – whether “it” is paying a parking ticket or going to grad school. So in cooking and in life, I will embrace being a little bold. And trust me, these are some bold nuts.

Cracknuts (Fennel Chile Nut Mix)

4 cups of mixed nuts – almonds, walnuts, and cashews
3/4 cups brown sugar
4tsp salt
4tsp crushed red pepper
8tsp fennel seed
4tbsp water

Mix the sugar, salt, red pepper, and fennel in a bowl. Add to the nuts, along with the water, and combine with your hands. Place on  a baking sheet lined with foil (don’t try skipping the foil – because you are essentially making caramel around the nuts, this stuff sticks to a pan like you wouldn’t believe). Bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. WATCH THESE NUTS LIKE A HAWK. They will burn if left unattended, faster than you will expect.

Let cool before storing away, breaking up into smaller clusters if needed. Serve, or leave out on the counter and let your roommates nibble away.