Categories
Cakes Classic Favorites Holiday desserts Stuff Your Parents Would Like

This Blog Celebrates A Birthday…And So Does The Man Who Dislikes It!

This blog is FOUR guys! That means we’re [probably] potty trained and [probably] tying our own shoelaces, unless you were one of those cool kids with velcro straps on your TMNT kicks. Whatever. Not jelly. Anyway, thank you all, as always, for keeping this blog, and me, going. Your support is everything.

Ok. Let’s talk about Easter desserts. Specifically, let’s talk about macabre Easter desserts.

Whilst searching the ‘nets for some inspiration, I came across a few pretty dark-sounding sweets. Let’s list them, yes?

1. Empty Tombs. Which, as I remarked to a friend of mine the other day, is probably a step up from “Tombs Filled With Sleeping Jesuses,” but is still not something I could see myself enjoying.

2. Chocolate Crosses. Again, not totally sold on the whole “eat a symbol of suffering while feeling really good about the sugar you’re imbibing” thing. I dunno.

3. Judas Cookies. To be fair, my friend Jeremy had the idea for Judas Cookies, which I suggested should be topped with chocolate Judas kisses, and then we had to stop before all the Catholics we both know (and some we don’t) came after us with Super Soakers full of holy water. (There’s mad blasphemy all up in that sentence, isn’t there?) My mother alone could form a very, very formidable army of such soldiers.

4. Bonkers Easter Cake. WHO WOULD COMMIT SUCH AN ATROCITY?!

So, I decided to go for something a little bit more classic. Ok, fine, full disclosure: this post is going up a couple of days before Easter, so y’all know I didn’t really make this for Easter. This was actually a birthday cake for my dad, who normally hates, in no particular order: cakes, blogs, things that are made from scratch, things that are made from scratch and then blogged about, cakes that are blogged about, and his child blogging about cakes she made from scratch.

He will very likely end me if he finds out this picture is on the internet, but seriously people: check out that swagger. Dude is holding an infant and cutting a cake like it's NBD. I'd have trouble doing one of those things with total confidence.
Dad will very likely end me if he finds out this picture is on the internet, but seriously people: check out that swagger. Dude is holding an infant and cutting a cake like it’s NBD. I’d have trouble doing one of those things with total confidence.

A lot of people have asked me how it feels to have my dad not like my blog. Those same lot of people are always shocked to hear me say that I think it’s HILARIOUS. He’s such a grump over the most random issues (see: cake-making, also the clothing choices of complete strangers and when people lose on Wheel of Fortune) that it starts to get very amusing after a while. He’s also my dad, the guy who– no questions asked– came over to my apartment a few years ago when I was living alone in order to kill a giant waterbug for me– which I originally claimed was a bat, it was that large– because I was too scared and squeamish to do so myself. He’s the guy who drove over to my apartment last week to pick up my boyfriend and me after our apartment became uninhabitable for a few days (remember that awful varnish smell I mentioned?), and then left us with to-go breakfast sandwiches when it was time for us to head home. He’s the guy who happily secured tickets for five brown people who inexplicably wanted to see Tom Jones in concert in Atlantic City in the mid-1990s, and I am still weirdly proud that it was the first live show I’d ever attended. So, despite the fact that you may very well never read this, I thank you Papa K, for making life funnier, more stressful/less stressful, and safer from disgusting insects/life’s other random villains.

Still, like I said, the man does not normally enjoy cake. BUT! There is an exception, friends, and it is an exception so simple and yet so profound, that even I in my all-powerful wisdom (LOL) could never have guessed it: carrot cake. Regular old carrot cake. Well. Not so regular, and not old at all, but it is more classic than the one I’ve made before. Let’s do this.

SONY DSC

Very lightly adapted from The Betty Crocker Cookbook

Carrot cake (makes one 9-inch round two layer cake)

For the cake

1 cup of brown sugar

1 stick of butter, browned (melt until butter darkens, brown bits begin to form in the butter and it takes on a nutty smell)

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of salt–unless butter is salted, then omit

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of raisins

1 cup of pineapple puree, or one cup of pineapple chunks in juice

4 cups of shredded carrots (about 4-5 medium)

For the frosting

8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons of butter, softened

2 teaspoons of milk

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

To start, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Generously butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together butter, oil and sugar on medium speed until fully blended. Add in eggs, one at a time, until completely mixed. In a separate smaller bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, salt (if using), baking powder and baking soda, then add in vanilla.

SONY DSC

Gradually add flour mixture to wet mixture, with mixer on low to medium speed, until batter is fully mixed. Fold in raisins first, then pineapple, then carrots, until evenly distributed throughout batter.

SONY DSC

Divide batter between pans and bake for 30 to 35 mins, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

SONY DSC

To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together with a mixer on high speed until blended. Add in milk, a little at a time, then gradually beat in sugar and vanilla until mixed. Note that this recipe will produce a cream cheese frosting that is on the tangier side, because no one in my family likes it to be terribly sweet. If you prefer yours on the sweeter side, add in about 1-2 more cups, a little at a time, tasting as you go until you reach your preferred level of sugar shock. Frost the top of one cake round, then top with second cake round and frost. Decorate how you wish and serve.

Sort of an inside joke-y cake topping, but I went for a vaguely Indian color scheme. Also was pressed for time :(
Sort of an inside joke-y cake topping, but I went for a vaguely Indian color scheme. Also was pressed for time 😦

Thoughts? I’m weirdly surprised at how well this went over with everyone. My dad being my dad, he did question why I’d spend the time baking something that seemed complicated to him from scratch…until he tasted it. In fact, everyone was really happy with the cake, from the tangy frosting to the rich, not-too-sweet actual cake. I was pretty damned shocked to hear that my parents, who aren’t really big sugar fiends (yes, I know, I also suspect I was adopted) polished off the rest of this cake a couple of days after dad’s birthday. You never cease to surprise me, Pops.

Categories
Classic Favorites Cookies Fancy Pantsy Holiday desserts Stuff Your Parents Would Like

Sugar and Spice. The Nice and Not Nice.

Some of the twelve of you who read this have probably noticed that I’m trying to post with a bit more frequency these days. I guess I’ve had a fire lit under me and am trying to keep this up, because I like fire. Wait.

My original intention was to have this post go up before Christmas, but some events transpired and it seems I couldn’t make that happen. My favorite professor died very recently. I think the most lovely tribute to him, in my eyes, has been how many other former students have called him their favorite in recent days. So many stories, so many fond memories, such a kind, kind person. In addition to many other small acts of kindness, he pushed me to take a massive risk by encouraging me to quit the most toxic “real world” job I’ve ever had, with no plan B on which to fall back. I would never have made that decision without him, because God knows I plan everything– I know exactly what I am having for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack and dessert today. But I will never regret that decision, that very life-altering decision. And I will never be able to thank him again. My life’s not exactly glamorous, but it’s better than it was, better than it would have been, I’m sure, had I stayed in a position that had me crying and shaking on the regular. And it’s strange not to see him pop up on Gchat anymore. I remember thinking recently that it was odd that he wasn’t on anymore, wasn’t “wasting time as usual” as he’d humbly type out whenever I messaged him (while he was probably working on yet another acclaimed pop culture-heavy book). I remember telling myself I’d shoot him an email, convincing myself I’d swing by the English Department I worked at as a college student to say hello to some old friends one of these days, prof included. That’s time for you.

This is from a beach in Montauk. Maybe it's "the beach in Montauk," or maybe there's an actual name, but I am too lowly to know these things. Anyway, it was beautiful and freezing and I had to climb a lot of slippery rocks to get to that point, and it was worth it.
This is from a beach in Montauk. Maybe it’s “the beach in Montauk,” or maybe there’s an actual name, but I am too lowly to know these things. Anyway, it was beautiful and freezing and I had to climb a lot of slippery rocks to get to that point, and it was worth it.

I’m not going to go on and on about how you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, or that time is precious, or that we’re all too damn busy with nonsense these days to see what’s really important. And it’s not because those things aren’t true– they are– but it’s because the best way to honor the too-rare happy, genuine, humble, hilarious people in life is to try to be all of those things. And I will. I will try.

Was that a New Year’s resolution? I don’t really believe in those, mostly because I’m terrible all year round and am always actively trying to make myself less terrible. If you drunkenly force me into giving you one at a party or something though, my answer will probably be to stop f*$%ing cursing so much. Except those various symbols won’t be there because I’ll be saying the f-word, the full word and not “eff star star star star -ing” to you. Some people say they think it’s charming to hear a lady curse. My boyfriend might once have been one of those people, but I think maybe he is not anymore. Or, at least, I don’t find all of the horrific, crass words that now make their way out of my brain and through my mouth to be charming anymore. And forget my parents. If they could disown my profane ass (Does it count as cursing if I’m trying to call myself a donkey?) at 28, I’m sure they would. That was very long. Don’t you now wish you never came up to me at this hypothetical party, imaginary drunken stranger?

Speaking of parties, I made the cookies below and brought them to a party, and they were a huge hit. And you should either throw a party, wait for the next party you’re invited to, weasel your way into a party as if you were invited, or straight up crash a stranger’s affair and bring these.

Chai Browned Butter Snickerdoodles (makes about 40 cookies)

adapted slightly from Grandbaby Cakes

2 sticks of butter (I used salted, if using unsalted add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the recipe)

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of loose chai or chai spice (I used loose chai and I was scared to but I totally shouldn’t have been…I’ll explain)

For the coating

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of loose chai or chai spice

So, I’ll start by ‘splaining myself. I have twenty five different kinds of chai at home. That is not an exaggeration; one time, on a whim, when I was feeling rich and stupid (probably drunk?), I purchased some sort of online deal that allowed me to purchase fifty bucks worth of chai. No, I didn’t pay fifty bucks for it, but what I discovered was that fifty bucks (or “fifty bucks” because I’m a cheapo/deal maven) buys a LOT of loose tea. It seemed like a waste to try to make my own “chai spice,” which to me never fully matches the taste of actual chai, when I had the good stuff at my disposal. Go ahead and use loose chai tea if you have it. It will not disappoint. (Also, WordPress keeps trying to tell me chai is not a real word, and it’s like, come on, WordPress. Give a brown girl some love and recognize.)

Whew. So, to begin, brown your butter. This isn’t a totally necessary step if you’re in a rush to get these cookies down your gullet, but… ok, it’s kind of totally necessary because it gives the cookies hella depth. To brown, melt your two sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter continue to cook until it turns brown, smells nutty, and there are tiny brown flecks in it. Set aside to let it cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined. Add in flour, baking soda, salt and chai and mix until a dough forms. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (note: this dough, as you can see from the yield above, makes a lot of cookies. I reserved about half of the dough and made more cookies three days later, which is about as long as I’d wager this dough will keep in the fridge, though it’s definitely freezable up to 3 months).

SONY DSC

Now, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Stir together cinnamon, sugar and chai spice for the coating and set aside in a small bowl. When dough has chilled, roll into tablespoon-sized balls, then cover in cinnamon-chai-sugar mixture and set on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Leave about an inch between balls, as these cookies will spread when baked.

SONY DSC

 

Bake for about ten minutes, until cookies have flattened out. I wouldn’t bake for any longer since you want to keep them nice and soft.

SONY DSC

Yes, ok? Yes, that is a big fat bite that I took before I even took this picture. The lens is also a little bit foggy because the cookies were still pretty hot when I took this picture, which means they were piping hot when I took a bite out of one, which I do not regret because it was FRIGGIN’ DELICIOUS. They were snapped up pretty quickly at the party, too– so quickly that I had to promise two guests that I’d make two face-sized chai snickerdoodles just for them next time.

Happy New Year, everyone. May it be beautiful, open and endlessly kind to you.

Categories
Bars Chocolate Cheer Classic Favorites Cookies Fancy Pantsy

Homemade Mallobars. (East Coast… Can Ya’ll Really Feel Me?)

*Today’s post is going to be focused on the dessert and will contain little to no complaining on my part, just to see what being a primarily baked good-centered blog feels like.*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRhHwHHKBss

So, how do you all feel about Mallomars?

I have no idea if those of you not in the Northeast are privy to the awesome power of the Mallomar. Last I heard, it was an East Coast thang.

I am unsure of my feelings on them.

So unsure that I had to go through several boxes of the seasonal treat this past winter to determine my feelings on them.

So unsure that I attempted to store three boxes away in my freezer so that I could continue to test them during the off-season. (Note: the aforementioned boxes have since mysteriously disappeared)

So unsure that when I realized my reserve boxes had gone missing (Ed note: contents of box were later determined to have been consumed by one James Hilger. Mr. Hilger resides with the author, and will pay dearly for his mistake) I furiously hunted down a homemade recipe for the treat, and vowed to make them as a summertime treat. In your sugar-coated face, archaic Nabisco rules!

If you want the truth, I actually respect Nabisco for attempting to limit my intake of this marshmallowy, chocolate-covered delight on a graham cracker platform. It’s a pretty good marketing strategy, considering the number of salivating Mallomar-devotees lurking outside of my– let’s face it, everyone’s– local Key Food come wintertime. But I just can’t live without ’em. I… I can’t. And so I attempted to make my own. Let’s do this, friends.

Homemade Mallobars (they’re bars because I cut them into bars, because I did. These made about 40 for me)

From the James Beard Foundation

For the Graham Crackers

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (also called graham flour)

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

6 tablespoons of softened butter

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

5 teaspoons of honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Marshmallow

1/3 cup of water, plus extra for cooking

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 envelopes of plain gelatin

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

For the chocolate coating

1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate, chopped

We begin with our graham crackers. Now, if I were you, I’d start making these at least a day in advance of when you’d like to enjoy them, mostly because the graham crackers require a fair amount of chilling before being baked. Trust me, these will be well worth the wait.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined, then add in honey. Mix in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated. Combine with dry ingredients and mix just until batter forms. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least two hours.

Remove dough from bowl and place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll out into a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Transfer flattened dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate again for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF. Carefully remove parchment sheet on top of dough. From here, you can either cut rectangles/squares of dough or bake as an uncut sheet, which is what I did. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let crackers cool completely.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.
These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

So…. I decided to taste-test these before continuing on in my mission, mostly because I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a homemade graham cracker. And I am now sorry that I have spent so much of my life on the store-bought stuff. The homemade ones were soft, sweet and had a deep, almost nutty flavor to them. I hope I never again let my laziness get the better of me by going with the pre-made stuff.

And now, on to the marshmallows. We’ve made marshmallows here before, and this won’t really be any different, but I’ll take you through the steps again so you won’t have to click back and forth.

To make your marshmallows, combine water and vanilla in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a separate saucepan, mix together sugar and corn syrup. Pour in just enough water to make the mixture resemble wet sand. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Cook until the mixture reaches 260ºF (note: if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can cook until the mixture reaches “soft ball stage.” Place a tiny amount of mixture in a bowl of cold water– if it becomes a soft ball, the mixture is ready to be taken off the heat), then remove from heat. Carefully stir water/gelatin mixture in, and stir until dissolved.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and whisk on high speed, taking care that mixture doesn’t splatter. Mix until thickened as much as possible, about 7 minutes. Next, you can either fill a pastry bag with marshmallow mixture or use a rubber spatula to spread mixture directly onto graham crackers. Gently smooth the top of mixture with wet fingers. Let firm and cool completely. At this point, if you haven’t already, you may cut into squares/something that vaguely resembles squares/amoebas/anything you want.

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

When cooled, melt your chocolate (either in microwave or in a double-boiler), then pour chocolate over. Let chocolate harden, and serve.

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

Words of warning: you will probably not be able to wait until these things are even close to not-still-hot before reaching for them. If you are, kudos, but if not, you were warned, genius. My fingers are still medium-rare from that mistake. Seriously, let these cool…

… Because once you do you will be left with magic. To be honest, they tasted more like s’mores than Mallomars, but I didn’t really care, because they were ridiculous. Also, I discovered that they are somehow even more amazing once frozen. O.M.G. DO THIS. With Independence Day approaching, I cannot think of a better way to salute ‘Murica than this magic.

SONY DSC
SONY DSC
Categories
Bars Chocolate Cheer Classic Favorites Cookies Fancy Pantsy

Homemade Mallobars. (East Coast… Can Ya’ll Really Feel Me?)

*Today’s post is going to be focused on the dessert and will contain little to no complaining on my part, just to see what being a primarily baked good-centered blog feels like.*

So, how do you all feel about Mallomars?

I have no idea if those of you not in the Northeast are privy to the awesome power of the Mallomar. Last I heard, it was an East Coast thang.

I am unsure of my feelings on them.

So unsure that I had to go through several boxes of the seasonal treat this past winter to determine my feelings on them.

So unsure that I attempted to store three boxes away in my freezer so that I could continue to test them during the off-season. (Note: the aforementioned boxes have since mysteriously disappeared)

So unsure that when I realized my reserve boxes had gone missing (Ed note: contents of box were later determined to have been consumed by one James Hilger. Mr. Hilger resides with the author, and will pay dearly for his mistake) I furiously hunted down a homemade recipe for the treat, and vowed to make them as a summertime treat. In your sugar-coated face, archaic Nabisco rules!

If you want the truth, I actually respect Nabisco for attempting to limit my intake of this marshmallowy, chocolate-covered delight on a graham cracker platform. It’s a pretty good marketing strategy, considering the number of salivating Mallomar-devotees lurking outside of my– let’s face it, everyone’s– local Key Food come wintertime. But I just can’t live without ’em. I… I can’t. And so I attempted to make my own. Let’s do this, friends.

Homemade Mallobars (they’re bars because I cut them into bars, because I did. These made about 40 for me)

From the James Beard Foundation

For the Graham Crackers

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (also called graham flour)

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

6 tablespoons of softened butter

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

5 teaspoons of honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Marshmallow

1/3 cup of water, plus extra for cooking

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 envelopes of plain gelatin

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

For the chocolate coating

1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate, chopped

We begin with our graham crackers. Now, if I were you, I’d start making these at least a day in advance of when you’d like to enjoy them, mostly because the graham crackers require a fair amount of chilling before being baked. Trust me, these will be well worth the wait.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined, then add in honey. Mix in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated. Combine with dry ingredients and mix just until batter forms. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least two hours.

Remove dough from bowl and place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll out into a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Transfer flattened dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate again for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF. Carefully remove parchment sheet on top of dough. From here, you can either cut rectangles/squares of dough or bake as an uncut sheet, which is what I did. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let crackers cool completely.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.
These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

So…. I decided to taste-test these before continuing on in my mission, mostly because I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a homemade graham cracker. And I am now sorry that I have spent so much of my life on the store-bought stuff. The homemade ones were soft, sweet and had a deep, almost nutty flavor to them. I hope I never again let my laziness get the better of me by going with the pre-made stuff.

And now, on to the marshmallows. We’ve made marshmallows here before, and this won’t really be any different, but I’ll take you through the steps again so you won’t have to click back and forth.

To make your marshmallows, combine water and vanilla in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a separate saucepan, mix together sugar and corn syrup. Pour in just enough water to make the mixture resemble wet sand. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Cook until the mixture reaches 260ºF (note: if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can cook until the mixture reaches “soft ball stage.” Place a tiny amount of mixture in a bowl of cold water– if it becomes a soft ball, the mixture is ready to be taken off the heat), then remove from heat. Carefully stir water/gelatin mixture in, and stir until dissolved.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and whisk on high speed, taking care that mixture doesn’t splatter. Mix until thickened as much as possible, about 7 minutes. Next, you can either fill a pastry bag with marshmallow mixture or use a rubber spatula to spread mixture directly onto graham crackers. Gently smooth the top of mixture with wet fingers. Let firm and cool completely. At this point, if you haven’t already, you may cut into squares/something that vaguely resembles squares/amoebas/anything you want.

SONY DSC

 

When cooled, melt your chocolate (either in microwave or in a double-boiler), then pour chocolate over. Let chocolate harden, and serve.

SONY DSC

Words of warning: you will probably not be able to wait until these things are even close to not-still-hot before reaching for them. If you are, kudos, but if not, you were warned, genius. My fingers are still medium-rare from that mistake. Seriously, let these cool…

… Because once you do you will be left with magic. To be honest, they tasted more like s’mores than Mallomars, but I didn’t really care, because they were ridiculous. Also, I discovered that they are somehow even more amazing once frozen. O.M.G. DO THIS. With Independence Day approaching, I cannot think of a better way to salute ‘Murica than this magic.

SONY DSC

Categories
Classic Favorites No-Bake Recipes Uncategorized

Triflin’ Away The Sad Winter Days. Like, With An Actual Trifle.

HOOOOO BOY am I exhausted.

I realize this is a champagne problem, but I am so damn bored with life. The perpetually gray skies, the bitter cold, the same too-loud conductor on the same too-loud F train, the same mind-numbingly awful sounds of Kenny G coming from some mysterious black hole in my office that, try as I might, I cannot seem to find or drown out with the soothing sounds of ANYTHING ELSE. I just can’t anymore.

I keep telling myself that I’m going to try to do something different and out of character every day. Some of you may remember “I Dare You Shibow,” a [very insane] blog post on a long-gone but beloved online magazine that a friend of mine ran, in which I basically dared people to dare me to do things that I’d eventually completely punk out on. I think the one dare I actually accepted required me to drink tequila nonstop for an entire day. That little experiment found me clumsily exiting my apartment, wandering into a  massive dollar store, and then suddenly finding myself smack in the middle of in said dollar store’s weirdly GIGANTIC porn section. After that day, I just pretty much straightened up, got a job, and never drank tequila again.*

*Almost all of this sentence has been exaggerated. Surprisingly, exactly none of the sentence about the dollar store has been embellished at all.

So I guess that was my long-winded way of telling you all to please not dare me to do anything creepy or crazy or dangerous or alcohol-related (mostly because I’ll probably just accept a booze-related challenge). Instead, I’d love some suggestions on how to not feel so…blah.

I’m sure the never-ending winter is a huge contributor to my blues, which is why I’ve started trying to psych myself out with spring-like desserts. Enter the trifle: an easy, delicious confection that, if done correctly, can look like the most delicious cross-section of the earth’s core that could possible exist. Basically, it’s a dessert that consists of even layers of every dessert thing you love so much. This time around, I took it easy and went with a simple lemon curd trifle, but just. you. wait. for what I’m planning.

Lemon Curd & Coconut Trifle (makes one pint)

For the lemon curd layer

1/3 cup + two tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of cold butter, cut into pieces

1 egg, beaten

For the whipped cream layer

1/2 cup of heavy cream

3 tablespoons of sugar, more if you like your whipped cream sweeter

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Plus, 1/4 cup of toasted coconut (spread shredded coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet; toast in a 350ºF oven for five minutes, stirring from time to time, until lightly browned)

Let’s start with the curd. In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir in your butter and egg, and place over medium heat. Stir the mixture frequently until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

SONY DSC

 

Immediately pour curd into an airtight container and refrigerate until cool.

For the whipped cream, pour heavy cream and sugar into a clean bowl. With mixer on high, beat cream until peaks begin to form. Add vanilla and whip until completely mixed in. Refrigerate until it’s time to build this thing.

And now…to build this thing. Guys, it’s really kind of difficult to master layering curd and cream in a pint jar. Basically, that means that I didn’t even come close to mastering it. The idea is to layer cream on top of curd, starting with your lemon curd at the bottom of the jar. In between each layer, I sprinkled toasted coconut, then topped it all off with a very, very healthy dollop of whipped cream and even more coconut.

 

My boyfriend specifically requested that the Moscow Mule mug I got him for Christmas be prominently displayed in this picture, Also...homemade pizza!
My boyfriend specifically requested that the Moscow Mule mug I got him for Christmas be featured in this picture. Also…homemade pizza!

 

So, after about a minute of trying to gracefully dip into this thing with our spoons, my boyfriend and I mutually decided to screw being dainty and mixed this monster right up. The verdict? DUDES, it’s like the best cake filling ever. It’s like the kind of cake filling you ditch the cake part for. SO. WORTH. EVERYTHING.

SONY DSC
Someone start a Tumblr for “Desserts that Look Like the Lead Singer of Flock of Seagulls”