HAPPY BIRTDHAY to a very special man in my life, who has supported me since day 1, no matter how difficult I’ve been in the past 25 years (yes, these type of men do exist). Thank you!
I don’t know if you recall the birthday craze two years ago where I baked 5 cakes for one celebration. And there weren’t even many leftovers! Lucky for me, after a certain age, big birthdays only come once every 5 or 10 years (depending how excited the birthday child gets). This year, having reduced the guestlist from roughly 50 to an intimate family affair, one cake fed all. Not just any cake, but my grandma’s famous chocolatey, flourless, moist, gluten free, almondy heaven. It was praised by all tasters. One even demanded I post the recipe online. So here you go, try and recreate, let me know how it goes, invite me to taste and judge, but most importantly – enjoy.
Grandma’s Chocolate Cake
Following the previous post, I present you with cake number 2 of 5 baked for the birthday festivities. A true must for both chocolate and amaretti lovers. Amaretti are possibly my favourite biscuits, they should be yours too. And don’t get me started on Amaretto, the tastiest liquor ever created. Those sours are dangerous. Remind me again why I decided to give up alcohol for Lent? At least there are only 22 days left and Fortnum’s Easter sponge pudding (honey, amaretto & almond sponge pudding with a soft chocolate centre….nom) waiting at the end of it. Not to forget the amaretto butter topping, Easter dessert wouldn’t be half as good without it.
Enough about Amaretto. This cake, like the Linzer, is best after having rested in a cool place (e.g. cellar) for a day or two. Perfect if you have a lot of baking or cooking planned!
Chocolate Amaretti Loaf Cake
adapted from Wildeisen
The best hazelnut chocolate spread strikes again. Yes, I am talking about Nutella. At last years Salon du Chocolat (an absolute must for chocolate lovers! Three whole days dedicated to the most innovative chocolate creations…. no wonder we felt slightly nauseous by the end of it), one chocolatier created a chocolate-hazelnut paste, which actually came out of a tube like face cream. It was deceptively advertised as tasting better than Nutella. Those are daringly big words carrying huge expectations! Honestly, why did they think they could create something superior to Nutella……? The paste was tasty, but definitely miles from the all time favorite.
Needless to say, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that Nutella is the one item never missing from my kitchen. With an upcoming dinner invitation and a newly bought jar of chocolate goodness, I decided to attempt making a bring along gift instead of buying one. The result: tiny yet devilishly satisfying post-dinner delights:
Taken from the most epic recipe book created
Admittedly a tad delayed, but still timely, here is a list of a few favorite things which help make Christmas the best season of the year.
1. A great excuse to hold a party or two. With lots and lots of booze.
2. Christmas lights all over cities
3. An excuse to put a giant tree in your living room and decorate it (the smell is just amazing!! Fake trees are not the way to go).
4. Mulled wine. Nom.
5. Turkey and stuffing and trimmings and pudding and brandy butter.
6. MORE FOOD (and almost all of it seems to contain alcohol in some way or another).
8. Gingerbread houses.
9. The spirit in the air: everyone is happy….. ok most people are happy.
10. Yet another reason to get presents (and of course buy some…not the season to be selfish)!
11. Christmas markets
12. Carol singing (definitely the only time of year I actually make it to church)
14. Lots and lots of family time…. probably not appreciated by everyone out there, in some cases 2 days a year are plenty.
17. Tasteless Christmas jumpers….. Primark seems to have been successful in this department
Why can’t it be Christmas all year round? We would possibly all be spoilt and overweight alcoholics by now if that were the case, but introducing a half Christmas in June doesn’t seem like such a bad idea:-).
In my last post I mentioned baking 72 cupcakes in an extremely hungover state, which is admittedly the second best cure to recover from intoxication. These cupcakes are truly a MUST for Nutella lovers. A Nutella filled center and Nutella based icing…. what more can a Nutella monster ask for?
A small bonus for all Nutella fans amongst you: check this out. It is even shaped like the jar!
After having lived in London for a couple of months, I decided to finally invite a few friends over for a cupcake and prosecco themed housewarming afternoon on a Saturday. My day turned out to be everything but how I’d planned it. Friday nights are unpredictable. Let me give you a quick summary of what not to do the night before you hold a party:
It started with dinner at the cosmopolitan time of 10.45 pm in Mayfair, including pre-dinner drinks and plenty of alcohol to accompany our meal. After having built up a base with chinese food, the night continued with bottles of prosecco in a place called Novikov for birthday nr.1. By this time it was already about 2am and we hadn’t even properly gotten started (truth is , my initial aim was to head home latest at 1.30, wake up at 9am and start baking my 72 cupcakes. Clearly I had missed the moment). One birthday doesn’t seem enough to celebrate on a night, so we crashed another one in some members club on Jermyn Street. As swanky and nice as this party was, the vibe wasn’t working for our group and no one seemed to be ready to head home. What is left at 3.30am on a Friday night? Raffles in Chelsea with lots and lots and lots of vodka. No more details needed.
By 5 or 5.30am, 4 hours after planned, I managed to stumble up my staircase (5 floors, no biggie when in heels and completely drunk), change into my pj’s and pass out on my bed. Sadly, I forgot to charge my dead iPhone before passing out. My alarm, which had been set for 9am, didn’t go off. When I opened my eyes for the first time the next day they were greeted with sunshine and the clearest blue sky. It was already 11:30am. Damnit. My drunken swiss discipline kicked in and within just over 3 hours I had baked and iced 72 cupcakes (3 different flavors). I have never drunken so much water in such a short period of time without having to pee once. Luckily my housewarming offered the perfect evidence-based cure for my hangover: alcohol 🙂
As for these cupcakes: I wanted to try something new and stumbled across Ferrero Rochers opposite the baking section in my supermarket. In my mind the combination with peanut butter seemed amazing, worth a try. I wasn’t sure if they’d survive the heat of the oven in one piece, but they did!
Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes
I have taken this opportunity to make something in the spirit of one of the most divine combination: chocolate and orange. A combination that divides audiences and friendships alike. Without voices in the background going “but its so wrooooong” I have settled for a cake that I believe embodies this match made in heaven in all its’ glory. Well… kind of. I just liked the look of the recipe and knew that I could try it out without anyone moaning about it.
I guess I got a little over-excited with the decoration, and even attempted some chocolate work. While I found out this is not my calling, I am generally pleased with the result and am hoping to convert some non-believers with this beastly yet subtle creation.
The recipe involves four layers of cake with orange syrup, almond cream, chocolate ganache and pâtisserie-quality decorations: challenge accepted!