Category Archives: Desserts

Birthday Bee Sting Cake

Bee Sting Cake

It’s a birthday tradition at my office that on your birthday YOU bring in treats. It’s very efficient, since everyone has a day of the year to bring in treats, and we all get to celebrate many times over. We’re very cheesy about the whole thing. We make a birthday treats meeting, close the door, and all sit around for an hour talking, eating and decompressing. Then we all get back to work.

Oh and we always sing happy birthday with multiple harmonies. As I said… cheeseballs.

I always take the opportunity to make one of the beautiful Smitten Kitchen cakes that I’ve been drooling looking at for the better part of a year. I have a million cookbooks and Bon Appetit magazines in my house, but honestly, when I think about making a cake, I always go to Smitten Kitchen.

Voilá! The Bee Sting Cake.

I had to assemble this baby at work because it would have been a b*tch to carry around otherwise, but it was well worth the effort. I had never made a yeast cake before, but it was a bready, airy, and very un-sweet cake with the sweet almond caramel topping and the INCREDIBLE buttercream custard (laced with almond extract) on the inside. When Deb describes the process of making this cake on her website,, she talks about all the variations of this cake she cooked through to make it come out just right. She says the effort was worth it. I add my endorsement!

I had to bring a big bread knife to cut the cake in half and add the custard at my cubicle!

I had to bring a big bread knife to cut the cake in half and add the custard at my cubicle!

Bee Sting Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 1/4-ounce package) instant yeast (not active dry) (also sold as rapid rise or bread machine yeast)
3/4 cup whole milk, ideally at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Honey-Almond-Crunch Topping
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) sliced almonds
Two pinches of sea salt

Pastry Cream Filling
1 cup whole milk
Seeds from 1/4 to 1/2 vanilla bean, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (I used the almond!)
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch [updated]
2 pinches sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine

Make the cake: Combine all of the cake ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive, then stirring for two minutes more. In a stand mixer, you can mix this with the paddle attachment (no dough hook needed; batter is thin) at low-medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 60 minutes, till it’s a little puffy. (It won’t fully double; this is fine.)

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Stir the batter a few times to deflate it slightly, then scrape it into the prepared pan and nudge it until it fills the bottom. Cover again with plastic wrap (don’t let it drape in and touch the top) and set aside for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the honey-almond-crunch topping: In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, honey, cream and salt until the butter is melted. Bring to a simmer and let it boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a shade darker–it should go from a yellowish tone to a light beige (don’t forget this step! Wait until it’s beige and more custardy!), stirring frequently. Stir in the almonds. You will probably panic because this mixture is going to get very thick — but don’t. Set it aside to cool slightly.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once the cake has finished its second rise use a small spoon to scoop out small amounts of the almond topping and distribute it over the top of the cake. It’s going to be a little pesky because it is firm, but I promise, even if it’s not perfectly evenly distributed, it will all smooth out gorgeously in the oven.

Bake cake on a foil-lined tray to catch any caramel drips, for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is bronzed and toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the outside of the cake, making sure no places are stuck and invert the cake onto the cooling rack. If you’re like me, you’ll be positive that all of the almonds will fall off, but shockingly, in five rounds, I only lost one or two. Reverse it back onto another rack to finish cooling, replacing any almonds that fell off right back on top. They’ll merge back with the caramel as it cools; nobody will know.

Make pastry cream: Warm milk and vanilla bean scrapings (if using; if using an extract, don’t add yet) in a medium saucepan. Pour into a small bowl or cup, ideally with a spout. Set aside. Rinse saucepan with cool water, to rinse and cool; wipe to dry. Off the heat, whisk the yolks and sugar vigorously together for a minute, until pale and ribbony. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Drizzle in warm milk mixture, a spoonful at a time, whisking the whole time. Once you’ve add half of it, you can add the rest in a more steady stream, again whisking the whole time. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on medium-high heat until it bubble, then simmer for one to two minutes, more whisking the whole time. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and any extracts you may be using. Cool custard completely before using, a process that can be sped up in the fridge or whisking it over a bowl over ice water.

Finally, assemble the cake: Once both the cake and pastry cream are fully cooled, place the cake on a serving platter and divide it horizontally into two layers with a long serrated knife. Spread pastry cream over bottom half. Place top half on pastry cream. Serve in wedges; watch out for bees. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Our lovely intern took this photo of her slice! A beautiful ooey-gooey cake!

Our lovely intern took this photo of her slice! A beautiful ooey-gooey cake!



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Bursting Blueberry-Peach Coffee Cake


Hey Lauren,

First of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I’m sure you got a delectable birthday cake, but I made this one in your honor :).. and because I’ve been craving coffee cake, but didn’t want one of those ones that has a one-inch layer of sugar at the top. So I tweaked a recipe I found on the food network website and made a healthier, lighter version bursting with tons of blueberries and summer peaches! You can’t even tell there’s only 2 tbsp of butter, some added ground flax seed for fiber, chopped walnuts, and one cup of whole wheat pastry flour. Result… great treat for morning breakfast or with ice cream for dessert. Plus its not that hard to make and a great way to use up the last of the season’s best fruit!

Bursting Blueberry-Peach Coffee Cake

Cooking spray or butter for greasing cake pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A pinch nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt or plain keifer
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh peaches, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8 or 9 inch cake pan.

Whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until fluffy. If necessary, use the back of a spoon to press out any lumps in the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla and yogurt. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring until just combined.


Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the batter and top with the blueberries, gently pressing them into the batter. Add peaches to the batter and spoon the rest of the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the cake, pressing gently. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.

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Summer Berry Pie from Scratch

IMG_2336So I finally tried your pie crust recipe and it ROCKS! I made this berry pie for our goodbye dinner with Dennis’s mom and sister, us and the pups, before we left for SoCal. The flavors were so good! I used the same ingredients as the rhubarb pie you posted here, except I added a little more cornstarch– apparently not enough because it was still a bit runny. Everyone loved it and it came out looking gorgeous. Next time I would try either tapioca starch or twice the cornstarch to really make the berries stick together. But again, taste-wise this was a winner! Thanks for the recipe Lauren. This will be my staple piecrust.

Hope everything is going well in Chicago. Cooking anything lately? It’s almost FALL! Can’t wait for the new flavors…


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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


Strawberry Rhubarb pies always make me think of Karla’s and my grandmother’s old house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was a super house: multiple levels of flowers in the front leading up to a colorful door and enclosed porch, a big living room with two pianos and an organ, a bathroom full of cat replicas, and a carpeted little staircase up to the third floor that was always lined with stuffed animals. It had all the requisite grandma’s house charm, and even a fluffy long-haired cat, rotary phones, and a scary basement.

The kitchen was something else. Stained glass on the walls, armies of magnets on the fridge, I can’t remember the details very well now, but it always seemed very crowded. I do remember using tiny little spoons, with presidents’ faces on them, to devour one of our grandma’s two specialties: heaping Schaum Tortes and pieces of Strawberry Rhubarb pie.

My “L” for Louisville pie. Something of a crust-design failure, but still a beautiful golden-brown! (Yes, my bracket won. No, I don’t know anything about NCAA Basketball.)

The rhubarb usually came from her garden, where the stalks burst out of the ground like weird red celery. I always remember thinking that it was the oddest looking fruit I had ever seen. (Fun fact: rhubarb actually IS a fruit. I quote Wikipedia: “Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable, however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties.”)

So, nowadays, in April and May, when Rhubarb comes to town, (it’s very difficult to find fresh out of season,) I can’t help buying some and throwing together a pie.

I owed Bill a pie, so I made it Bill's Pie.

I owed Bill a pie, so I made it Bill’s Pie.

This recipe is a mish-mash of a few recipes I read. It’s mostly Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” Crust, with Smitten Kitchen’s “Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, improved” filling. I have never used tapioca as a thickener, as I bought a can of cornstarch a long time ago and haven’t gone through it yet. I have never found a way of making a filling so solid that it doesn’t run all over the place, but this pie is freaking YUMMY, and the mess isn’t really a big deal.

Sculpting the crust of the pie is really my favorite part. I love working with the dough to make some lovely creations. Here are some ideas if you’d like to play around with making your pie really pretty. For advanced dough workers, I especially endorse the braided crust: Martha Stewart Ideas, Braided Crust,






Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

For the crust (Note: you’ll need two crusts for a standard pie)
– 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1 stick butter
– 3 tbs ice water (or more as needed)
For the filling
– 3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
– 3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, cut in halves if small; cut in quarters if large
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1/4 cup light brown sugar
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/8 cup cornstarch or 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
– 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
– 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Notes: 1) For the flour: If you want to make this healthier, you can replace about 1/3 up of the flour with wheat flour without affecting the taste. If you really want to be healthier, probably don’t make a pie. 2) For the ice water: I usually start off the whole process by taking some ice and putting it in a glass of cold water. That way, when you get to that step, you have a glass of really cold water hanging out. It’s pretty essential to keep the dough very cold. 3) For the strawberries: Many recipes want you to slice the strawberries. That will be totally fine. I just like the strawberries chunkier, since they really turn to mush once you cook them. At least the larger pieces still give you big bites of strawberry. 4) For the light brown sugar: If you don’t have light brown sugar, but you do have molasses, this is brilliant: !!!!!! 5) DO NOT skip the glaze. Also, use this glaze forever, for every pie you ever make.

  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the container of a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
  2. Place the mixture in a bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over it. Use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to gradually gather the mixture into a ball; if the mixture seems dry, add another ½ tablespoon ice water. The water will seem insufficient to make the dough wet. Be patient and keep stirring. When you can make the mixture into a ball with your hands, do so. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into a small disk, and freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes); this will ease rolling. (You can also refrigerate the dough for a day or two, or freeze it almost indefinitely.)
  3. While you’re waiting for your pie dough to cool, make the pie filling. This is an easy one: Mix together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Sprinkle a countertop or large board with flour. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface; sprinkle its top with flour. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes; it should give a little when you press your fingers into it.
  5. Roll with light pressure, from the center out. (If the dough seems very sticky at first, add flour liberally; but if it becomes sticky only after you roll it for a few minutes, return it to the refrigerator for 10 minutes before proceeding. I find it infinitely more difficult to work with pie dough when my kitchen/the world is very hot. Try to do this somewhere cool.) Continue to roll, adding small amounts of flour as necessary, rotating the dough occasionally, and turning it over once or twice during the process. (Use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.) When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter, hold your pie plate upside down over it to check the size. (If you have a really deep pie pan, like I do, make sure that your dough is a few inches longer in diameter than the pie plate.
  6. Move the dough into the pie plate by draping it over the rolling pin or by folding it into quarters, then moving it into the plate and unfolding it. When the dough is in the plate, press it into the bottom, sides, and junction of bottom and sides. Once you have the bottom layer down, leave the edges ragged and heap the filling inside. Then lay the crust on top. Trim the excess dough so that about ½ inch hangs over all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges however you want! The easiest way is to press little grooves into it with a fork. Cut ventilation holes or slits in the top of the pie.
  7. Brush the egg yolk and water glaze all over your crust. Really cover it, and don’t worry if a little of the glaze pools here and there. That’s unavoidable.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.
  9. Let the pie cool to room temperature before serving. This will take several hours.

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The Everything Cookie



Just like you have an everything bagel, welcome to the everything cookie. More of the good stuff, less of the not-so-good stuff. These are not your typical flour, butter, sugar cookies. Because let’s face it, as delicious as they can be, who wants to be eating that? No, these little gems are great afternoon pick-me ups and have plenty of fiber and protein to boot. Better yet, you can make them with anything you have in your pantry… throw in any variety of nut, seed, dried fruit, you name it. And don’t forget the nut butter.. that’s the glue and what holds these together.


The Everything Cookie (& Gluten Free)

1/2 cup coconut oil (or 1/4 cup butter at room temp)

3/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup brown sugar (optional, or add more agave)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup peanut butter

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup nuts (chopped walnuts, whole cashews, pistachios)

1/4 cup dried fruit or seeds (dried cranberries, blueberries, chia seeds, sunflower seeds)

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan. In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil (or 1/4 cup butter), agave, brown sugar, and butter and beat with a mixer until light and creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and baking soda, and mix well with a spatula. Add the peanut butter and fold in until fully incorporated. Stir in oats, chocolate, nuts, fruit and/or seeds. Place a rounded teaspoon of dough on lightly greased cookie sheets about 1-2 inches apart. Bake 9-10 minutes until lightly brown around edges for soft cookies (and leave in for 2 more minutes of you like them crispy).

1. Whisk oil (or butter) and sugarsIMG_1422

2. Add eggs, vanilla, & baking powderIMG_1424

3. Mix in Peanut butterIMG_1428

4. Mix in oatsIMG_1431

5. Mix in Nuts & seedsIMG_1434
6. Mix in chocolateIMG_1438

7. Spoon onto tray (1 tsp)IMG_1444


8. Bake 9-10 minIMG_1448

9. Enjoy as dessert… or…IMG_1489

10. Give to friends!IMG_1453

Makes about 48 cookies, so you’ll have to share! I packed them up for my friends at the farm, my sweetheart, and my Stanford friend. Raving reviews from all! Hope you enjoy them too!


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Back to Nature: A look at the Paleo Diet & Agave Cookies


Farm visit on Vashon Island, WA (March, 2013)

I’m not a big fan of diets, but I thought I would share this with you. Mom was encouraging me to take a look at this food documentary, especially with my newfound food sensitivity and long-time interest in healthy eating. Now, I’ve herd a lot of fuss about this Paleo (or Paleolithic) Diet, which supposedly is one of the healthiest diets around and mimics that of our caveman ancestors who led hunter-gather lifestyles. Ok I’m intrigued…but not sold.


The documentary presents research that shows how a diet from the Stone Age that that primarily focused on meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit and nuts actually helped us humans reach our full potential and stay lean, strong, and smart. On the flip-side, it reiterates what we have heard for so long, that our modern-day diet of processed, refined and carb-heavy foods make us sick, fat, and lazy.


My morning oatmeal

Now I don’t know about following this diet too strictly. It seems a little crazy to overlook all of the amazing, creative and delicious food options out there. Yes, being healthy is one thing, but aren’t we supposed to enjoy our food, get playful with it, and be a little bad sometimes? (That’s just my opinion- but strict diets can work for some people). Having said that,  I am a big fan of eating whole, nutritious foods and I do think there is something to say for trying a different approach to eating if it makes you healthier, stronger, and more active. Especially  since now there are so many people with food sensitivities (like me) that go undiagnosed, diets like this one can be useful for people trying to figure out what foods may be troubling them, and what they could do without.

Healthy lunches

Healthy lunches

Here’s what mom had to say about it:

I hope you have a chance to watch the Perfect Human Diet, which is not in reference literally to returning to the Neanderthal diet but that we can learn much from that time as to what kept humans from having the same prevalent diseases we are afflicted with today.  Their stressors were different, their access and life styles were different, exposure to things and people were different, etc.  But, their level of exercise and quality of diet (fresh, local, meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds) was admirable.  The lesson: we evolved and our brains became more sophisticated because of this.  It’s hard for us now to have all the choices and expense variables to consider, but we have one life and a good brain to figure out what limits we’re willing to live with to gain a longer quality of life.  Remember also, it takes one person to create a movement, or at least affect a few around her, and for the better if sound. -Mami

Horay for healthy snacks

Horay for healthy snacks

I TOTALLY agree with this by the way! about being healthy to get the most out of life and figuring out what limits we’re willing to live with. So I still think this documentary is worth watching because there’s always something to learn and if it helps get us a little closer to our quest of healthier and happier lives, then its done its job!


Strawberry season. YUM!

Speaking of natural eating, I have a recipe to share! These oats & agave jam cookies are made with natural ingredients and whole grain flour that make them the perfect snack to boost your energy during the day, for tea time, or as dessert. I made them special for a friend who has diabetes, but I gobbled my half right up. So yummy. The recipe I got from My New Roots “Sugar-free Thumbprint Jam Cookies”.


Oats & Agave Jam Cookies

2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup warm coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole grain flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp. organic, all-natural cornstarch
Scant 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Zest of one lemon
Your favorite jam or preserves (I want to make these with fig jam next!)


Preheat the oven to 350F, rack in the top 1/3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl pour the warm, melted coconut oil over the honey and whisk in the vanilla extract. In a separate medium bowl combine the flour, oats, cornstarch/arrowroot, sea salt, baking soda, and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture to the honey and stir until just combined. Let the dough sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir once or twice again – the dough should be quite stiff.
Roll the dough into balls, one level tablespoon at a time, and place an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. These will spread. Use your finger or the back of a very tiny spoon to make a well in the top of each ball of dough. Fill each to the top with 1/8 teaspoon of jam. I tried to make mine into heart-shapes for the fun of it.
Bake for 7 – 9 minutes or until the bottom and edges of the cookies are just golden. Don’t over-bake.

Serve with tea or pack in your lunch for a quick afternoon snack.

Happy and healthy eating!

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Saint Valentine’s favorite Plum Pie

I was going to make this post about all the yummy Mexican food I’ve been eating since I moved to California. From chile spiced mangoes, to tripa (tripe) and lengua (toungue) tacos, to the greatest posole in the world.. which of course came out of a kitchen much like yours and mine. But looking back on many of the holidays we’ve missed since the New Year, I remembered an important one… Valentine’s Day. So my post about my obsession with Mexican food will just have to wait.

Valentine is truly a food holiday. Whether you’re hitched up and celebrating your love at a swanky restaurant, or home alone watching movies and eating little boxes of Chinese food and yummy chocolate… you know what you’re eating on Valentine’s Day.

This Valentine’s Day for me was unlike past years. Rather than celebrating at one of the city’s most praised restaurants and planning for weeks about the perfect night for me and my (now ex-) boyfriend, I decided I was going to celebrate my love of cooking and share something with the people I have recently come to love and care about in my life. After perusing through many an article in my Bon Appetit magazines (yes–I save them all!), I came across a perfect one, a Plum and Mascarpone Pie. Perfect Valentine’s material.

Now not only was this a test to my pie-making skills (Lauren, you know, is the pie master), but it was my first time using the oven in my new apartment. Finger’s crossed. Nevertheless, it turned out perfect, slightly sweet with a rich (lusty) plum color and deep flavors of ripe plums and the mascarpone cheese. A hint of lemon really makes this pie pop! So try it not just on Valentine’s Day, but for whenever you want to celebrate your love of cooking (baking, really). By sharing with others, you’ll let them know you love them too. : )

So, without more ‘ado… Here’s the recipe.


Plum and Mascarpone Pie

adapted from Bon Appetit August 2012 Magazine

1 pie crust, home-made preferably (see epicurious basic flaky pie crust recipe)

5 lb firm ripe plums (about 25), quartered with skin on

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

8 oz mascarpone

1/3 cup creme fraiche

2 tbsp honey or agave nectar

[Optional crumble topping: 1/2 cup quick oats, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp chilled butter, slivered almonds, agave nectar]

Equipment: 9″ pie pan

Preheat oven to 350. Line pie dish with crust and bake according to pie crust instructions. Place plums in a large bown, add 1 1/2 cups sugar, lemon juice, and scrape in half of vanilla bean seeds. Toss. Arrange plums cut side down on glass baking dish(es) and bake until tender, about 40-60 minutes. If using crumble top, bake only 20 minutes.

Use the juices from the plum mixture to create a sauce by pouring juices into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened and reduced to a half cup (about 4-5 min).

Combine 2 tbsp sugar, mascarpone, creme fraiche, and honey or agave in a medium bowl. Scrape in the other half of the vanilla bean seeds and using an electric mixer on high, beat until firm peaks form.

Crumble topping: Make glaze with plum juices. Combine crumble ingredients together with hands and mush together until crumbs form and butter is mostly incorporated. Place plums in pie pan and top with crumple, adding more slices almonds on top. Bake for additional 20-25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on edges. Set aside to cool. Scoop Serve with mascarpone mixture and plum glaze.

Standard: Make sure crust if fully cooked and plums are chilled. Spread mascarpone mixture evenly over bottom of crust. Arrange chilled plums on top and serve with plum glaze.

Note: For a healthier guilt-free version or on a hot summer day, go crust-less with the crumble topping and use a mixture of greek yogurt and honey or agave to serve with. And glaze, of course! Happy eating!


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Basque Cake

For once, I’m going to post about a recipe I haven’t made. We’ve been going out to dinner a lot/ making VERY simple meals (read pasta+red sauce+giardiniera or bagel egg sandwiches) since this is a very busy time here!

Sad news: Andy and Raisa are moving to Portand, OR! Yes, sadly, they’ll be moving in just a couple of weeks. This weekend was Andy’s birthday and really Raisa’s last free weekend in Chicago, so we went out to dinner, the four of us, to celebrate.

We went to an awesome restaurant in Chicago called the Bristol: (see here!) and of course, since we were celebrating, we had desert.

The first desert was a mini rhubarb pie, which was great, but the second desert really blew us away!

This is a basque cake. I didn’t know about this particular kind of cake before we had this one, but it is filled with some pastry cream, which just kind of melts into the cake batter to make the middle of the cake wonderfully moist and rich. This one was served with fresh strawberries, champagne sabayon, brown stuff that was not chocolate, and a pink ice cream that I think might have been grapefruit? I don’t remember. Anyways, it was AMAZING.

I found this recipe for Basque cake that looks pretty good. It’s a little time consuming, but if this tastes at all like what we had at the Bristol, it’s SO worth it. (It looks exactly the same on the inside)

Basque Cake from Jeff’s Baking Blog

(Just go to the link. He has lots of pictures, and I think you’ll need them!)

Happy Birthday, Karla! I hope you have a great day!


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European Delights

Hi Sis,

This week Dennis’s uncle Martijn is in town from Utrecht, Holland. He brought with him some treats that are very typically dutch: Stroopwafels, fair trade (slave-free) chocolate, licorice drops, and hagelslag! You’ve probably had stoopwafels before because they sell them everywhere now. I’ve seen mini ones at Trader Joe’s and specialty stores have good ones too. They are just gooey caramel-filled waffles, delicious. The licorice drops (or Scheepsknopen) are definitely an acquired taste, but anyone who likes strong licorice would love them. Apparently the dutch can go through a whole box in a day! The chocolate is a lot like specialty brands you can find here (but getting chocolate from Europe is always such a treat). However, hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) is something I’ve only seen in Holland and they put it on warm toast or a baguette in the morning, like in the picture. So good! Just thought I’d share these with you, since I always love coming across foreign brand goodies— maybe because they seem so much better than the ones here! I can’t wait to search the supermarket shelves for some new and interesting things when we’re in Copenhagen/Stockholm this summer! Oh, and I’ve been getting some good tips on things to do in Copenhagen from my good friend who studied there! I’ll be sure to share what I find.


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Nuts for Chocolate Brownies

First of all… Lauren, I want me some of that eggplant spread! Looks delicious! Second, thank you so much for coming up with this amazing new way of sharing food, recipes and stories- something we take a common pleasure in.

This past week I have been experimenting a lot with new foods, especially health foods, in a search to find foods that complement each other not only with their flavors but the way they can be digested in the body. Especially for me, someone who sometimes struggles with proper digestion, I have learned that healthy food does not have to taste like cardboard, as you very well know. And with my first blog post, here is some proof food can taste wonderful and be nourishing too! 

Shown above is my new favorite chocolate fix. I call it my “nut’s for chocolate” brownies, taken from My New Roots blogger Sarah B, because they are essentially made up of nuts, along with some dried fruit and cocoa powder, which give them such a creamy and buttery consistency. Yep, thats right, NO flour, butter, sugar or cocoa butter. Just rich, chocolaty, healthy goodness! Just think of all those Omega-3’s!

Nut’s for Chocolate Brownies 

or “The Raw Brownie” taken from My New Roots

1 cup whole walnuts

1 heaping cup Medjool dates, pittted

1/2 cup good cacao/cocoa power

1/2 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped

a good pinch of sea salt, or two!

It’s really VERY simple to make these. Put the walnuts in your food processor and bland until finely ground. Add cocoa and salt and pulse to combine. Then add the dates slowly while food processor is going until they are fully incorporated. This should give you a mixture of cake-like crumbs. Add more dates to make creamier. Add the mix to the copped almonds and pack everything together in a small square container and put in the ‘fridge to chill. Dust cocoa powder, add different nuts, caramel, or add coconut or chocolate chips to experiment! Bon appetit!

Love, Karla

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