Microwave Mocha Mug Cake

January 10, 2018

The whole concept of baking in the microwave sounds bizarre to the modern cook – microwaves are only for reheating leftovers, right? But when microwave ovens were first taking off as the must-have kitchen appliance in the 1970s and 1980s, there were all sorts of cookbooks released with recipes ranging from baking cakes to “roasting” whole chickens(!). Fortunately since then people have seemed to realize that microwaves aren’t a one-size-fits-all miracle do-everything kitchen appliance (and I wouldn’t be surprised if we viewed the current rash of electronic pressure cooker cookbooks the same way in 30 years – prime rib in an Instant Pot? Heaven forbid).

However, there is one type of baking for which microwaves work somewhat well, and that’s the single-serving “mug cake.” Sometimes I’ll get a craving for warm, gooey chocolate cake – like a single-serving lava cake – but don’t want to spend the time (or ingredients) to make a recipe that serves 8 people. Plus I want to enjoy the cake NOW, not in an hour! Microwave mug cakes are perfect for this purpose: they generally take less than 5 minutes start-to-finish. And as a bonus, they only dirty a single mug and a measuring spoon or two!

This version from Serious Eats uses the addition of instant coffee to kick the flavor up a notch, and incorporates chocolate chips for some extra-tasty melty chocolate bits. Perfect for satisfying your chocolate craving on a cold winter evening. Enjoy!

Microwave mocha mug cake

See recipe


Passion Fruit Cream Pops

December 28, 2017

Right now it’s only 5 degrees F in upstate NY, so this is quite an out-of-season recipe to be posting for my local friends! But I’m sure some of my readers live in warmer climates where you can comfortably enjoy frozen treats all year round. :)

I love the flavor of passion fruit so this recipe jumped out at me when I was flipping through the cookbook Paletas (by Fany Gerson). The base is a rich custard made with half-and-half, which makes these a more decadent dessert than the typical frozen pop.

I’m looking forward to making these again once the winter is over. Enjoy!

Passion fruit cream pops

See recipe


Poppy Seed Coffee Cake with Cardamom Streusel

December 27, 2017

Doing more housecleaning of blog post drafts that I started and never finished!

This streusel cake that I made for one of my former coworkers’ birthdays gets elevated beyond a standard poppy seed cake with the addition of cardamom. The streusel topping provides textural contrast to the soft crumb of the cake. Great dessert when you’re looking for something not-too-rich and slightly out of the ordinary flavor.

Recipe is from the Bon Appetit Desserts cookbook. Enjoy!

Poppy seed coffee cake with cardamom streusel topping

See recipe


Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake

December 26, 2017

I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for 2.5 years, and I think it’s high time I shared this amazing recipe! I’ve made this cake several times now and it has become my go-to for when I need something that looks impressive but actually comes together with very little effort.

Here’s my original write up (the friend mentioned is now 32, yikes!):

One of my best friends from grad school turned 30 on June 1, and his wife asked me to be in charge of the cake for his surprise party. I had made an ambitious two-tiered almond cake for her 30th birthday the previous summer, but since this party was only a few weeks before my due date, I didn’t think I’d be able to take on too big of a project. But I needed to come up with enough cake to serve around 30 people. In a flash of inspiration, I decided to make three separate bundt cakes… one for each decade of life! Which sounds like way more work than just making one big cake, but it was actually way easier. I’m a huge fan of bundt cakes because they make gorgeous centerpieces but require much less effort than layer cakes – they generally only require a quick glaze or dusting of powdered sugar rather than a complicated frosting.

This particular cake has a wonderfully rich dark chocolate flavor, and the whiskey flavor really comes through (makes sense as there’s a full half-cup in the batter). A dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream are the only accompaniments it needs; anything else would be overkill. Recipe is originally from the Gourmet Today cookbook. Enjoy!

Chocolate whiskey bundt cake

See recipe


Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk and Kale

January 24, 2016

This red lentil dal is another easy recipe I clipped out of Food and Wine (February 2015) during my recent magazine purge. Dal is the Indian word for dried split peas or lentils, and is also used to refer to the thick stew made from them.  We had it as an accompaniment at most meals when I visited India in 2010 (including breakfast!); I fondly remember scooping up mouthfuls with delicious homemade chapati. This recipe adds kale as a hearty green to bulk up the stew, so this would be suitable as a light main dish (accompanied by a salad and some crusty bread) as well as a side dish.

I never really jumped on the kale bandwagon of a few years ago (which still seems to be going strong, although I hear it mentioned more often now in the form of green smoothies), but I don’t dislike it and am happy to try recipes that make good use of it. This dal recipe doesn’t specify the type of kale to use; even though I have more familiarity with the Tuscan variety, I bought the more common curly-leaf variety this time. The recipe only used about half the bunch, so now I need to figure out something to do with the leftover kale in the next couple of days! The type of chile peppers is also unspecified: the recipe just calls for “small red chiles.” I ended up buying Fresno chiles, which have a kick but didn’t overwhelm the dish with spice.

Overall we really enjoyed this lentil stew! The coconut milk adds just the right amount of background coconut flavor without being overly coconut-y. Recipe has been pasted into my binder of ones to keep and make again!


See recipe


Matcha Tea Cake Cookies

January 16, 2016

As you can probably guess from the lack of activity here, I’ve been a bit preoccupied for the past 7 months! Our daughter Vivienne was born on June 24th after a (very very thankfully) short labor and uncomplicated delivery. So with the arrival of our newest family member, food photography and blogging have unfortunately fallen so far down the to-do list that it’s something that hasn’t even crossed my mind to pick back up until recently.

Poor Vivienne isn’t feeling well this weekend, so while she was getting some much-needed snuggle time with her dad this morning, I decided to try out these easy cookies. I recently cleaned out my cooking magazine stash – I’m hanging on to all my old Bon Appetit issues, but I looked through my copies of Food and Wine and clipped out recipes that sounded like I might actually make now that my cooking and baking time is much more limited. This cookie recipe was in the February 2015 issue, and while matcha isn’t something I usually keep on hand, I cut it out because their color was so striking (plus they sounded easy to make – no creaming of butter and sugar).

Matcha is a ground green tea powder from Japan. If you’ve ever seen a traditional Japanese tea ceremony performed, matcha is the type of tea used. It’s also used in various Japanese confections like mochi. The green color permeates everything that the powder is mixed with, giving baked goods and sweets an almost unnaturally intense hue.

These cookies may not appeal to everyone, but I really enjoyed the way they turned out! They’re not overly sweet and they have a strong matcha flavor (there are two whole tablespoons of the powder in the dough, plus more for dusting on top), and there’s a hint of almond which complements the green tea flavor nicely. I also enjoyed the cake-like texture – I think it suits the flavor better than a more traditional drop-cookie texture would.

If you’ve enjoyed other Japanese confections made with matcha, I think you’ll love these cookies! If you give them a try, let me know what you think!

Matcha cookies

See recipe


Rhubarb Pie with Cardamom and Orange

April 29, 2015

The rhubarb in our garden is getting bigger every day, and I can’t wait until there’s enough of it to make some delicious summer desserts! Here’s one I made last year that I’m hoping to make again this summer.

This rhubarb pie recipe (from Bon Appetit Desserts) was supposed to have a lattice crust, but I decided to make it when I only had a single pie crust in my fridge, and I didn’t feel like making a second just for the lattice. :) So I used scraps from the single crust and cut out lots of dots to cover the surface with. I’m not sure if a true lattice would have prevented some of the bubbliness and drips around the edges, but the dots effect looked cool and it’s easy enough to use a cookie sheet underneath the pie plate to catch any drips. The filling certainly didn’t lose too much moisture from not being more covered!

I love fruit desserts that are on the tart(er) side, so rhubarb has always been one of my favorite “fruits” in dessert. We really enjoyed the subtle complexity that the cardamom and orange added to the flavor of the filling, without overwhelming the flavor of the rhubarb itself. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this makes the perfect early-summer dessert.

Rhubarb pie with cardamom and orange

See recipe