valentine's day almond cake

slowly slowly i am getting back into the groove of things in my post-manuscript life. we ate late-night burgers on a weeknight because it seemed like a fun thing to do, began a jane the virgin addiction to hold us over until house of cards comes out, and on super bowl sunday when our party got cancelled because of a big fat snow storm (!!) we made ricotta gnocchi and actually continued our jane the virgin addiction when it wasn't the halftime show because having to watch football makes me squirmy and anxious. (it's one thing when you have a party with whom you can gossip the whole time, but it's another when it's just you and a male who would probably rather fill out tax forms than watch football.)

we even went for a run outside! it was *quite* crisp and i didn't last very long, but, oh, i need to stick with it because bread, butter, burgers, and schnitzel will really make you feel a little blobby. go figure...

but while this back-to-normal-life thing is really chill and all, perhaps the number two reason why i’m so excited that i met my book deadline (number one was obviously that i don’t face the risk of being sued) is because this is the time when i get to spend a whole entire day baking my annual valentine’s day almond cake and then sitting on my bum and decorating it using allllll of the red and pink things that i want! yusssss. it's the most wonderful time of the year. i look forward to it every winter and lie awake at night dreaming up its design. it is the most fun. 

here is last year's cake, 2014’s, 2013’s, 2012’s, 2011’s, and 2010’s. this year i was inspired by all of the fun valentine’s day goodies in king arthur flour’s shop and made a slight tweak to my usual recipe by subbing out the vanilla extract for *princess emulsion*. have you had this stuff? it smells like butter, sugar, vanilla, almond, citrus, love, and nostalgia all rolled up into a secret potion, or as if the smell of a perfect frosted sugar cookie jumped into a bottle. i might just start dabbing some on my wrists as perfume. you could certainly stick with vanilla extract if you’d like, but this adds a nice little oomph to the flavor!

happy almost valentine’s day, friends!


valentine's day almond cake

serves 10-12

ingredients

cake:

1/2 c king arthur unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp princess emulsion or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

whipped cream:

1 1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract 

assembly:

marzipan kneaded with red, pink, and purple food coloring
sprinkles of all sorts

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and line the bottom of a 10” springform pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks and then gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating to stiff peaks and then set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I usually just scoop the whites out of the bowl and transfer them to a separate bowl and then reuse my stand mixer bowl for this step), combine the almond paste and egg yolks and beat on high for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the princess emulsion or vanilla and almond extract. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the pan and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack to cool fully.

To make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract to stiff peaks.

Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake and decorate as desired!


i used the following king arthur flour products in this recipe: all-purpose flour, princess emulsion, almond extract, almond paste, marzipan, sprinkles, cookie cutters, and food coloring. thank you so much, king arthur flour, for sponsoring this post!

-yeh!

pita ribolitta

i opened up the camera on my phone so that i could video tape myself hitting send on the email with my manuscript, went to hit send and then realized i hadn’t written anything in the body of the email, put my phone down, typed “attached!” and hit send without remembering to pick my phone back up. i think holding onto that video would have been kind of hoarder-ish anyway. then i tweeted, took my first shower in a week, and went to the town’s new fancy restaurant with eggboy and ate a schnitzel with rosemary fries and two ramekins of ketchup. it was my first time wearing shoes and interacting with non-egg humans in a very long time and it all felt like how your eyes feel when you step out into the sun after being in the dark for too long, but my good heavens, that relief. like descending into a hot tub on a cold winter day. and the joy of being able to spend the next day sitting on the couch in my underpants eating potato chips, watching the today show and kelly and michael, and then to even entertain the possibility of going on a weekend ski trip or cooking my way through zahav… 

ok, i’m not off the hook yet, i still have the other half of my photos to take, which are due in april. but for at least these next few days i’ll be zoning out and decorating for valentine’s day and, oh, putting away our chrismukkah bush.

how have you been?? what all is new? did you watch grease live?? i’ve watched it twice so far and cannot stop listening to “magic changes.” which i’m grateful for because i don’t know if i’ll ever be able to listen to sia again without reliving the stress of my deadline. 

anyway, i am in severe need of vegetables because for the two entire weeks leading up to my deadline, i ate almost exclusively pita with salted butter. it was sort of like how steve jobs wore the same exact outfit every day so that it was one less thing to think about. so here is a really warming, vegetabley soup that’s got a bunch of torn pita in it since homemade pita is queen of my bread box rn, and it’s flavored with hawaij for soup, the savory sister to hawaij for coffee, that’s got cumin, turmeric, and cardamom at the front and center. this soup is kind of like what would happen if chili took a trip to the middle east and had to leave all of its meat behind at customs, ya dig? and i’m pairing it here with lemon ginger kevita because it’s a perfectly refreshing partner to hot soup, and say it with me now, “pita ribollita with kevita!” you know how i feel about a good rhyme… oh and this soup happens to be even better heated up the next day, so if you want to make a big pot for your super bowl part this weekend, you can totally make it a day in advance and then just reheat. easy peasy. 


pita ribollita

makes 8 servings

ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons hawaij for soup
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
Black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 14-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups chopped or torn pita, fresh or day-old
plain greek yogurt or labneh, for serving
chopped fresh parsley, for serving

 

clues

in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the onions, carrots, celery, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes. add the garlic, hawaij, aleppo pepper, and a few turns of black pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. add the bay leaves, tomatoes, broth, and beans and bring to a boil. cover and simmer for 20 minutes. stir in the pita and cook for 5 more minutes. taste and adjust seasonings as desired. ladle into bowls, top with a drizzle of olive oil, a plop of yogurt, and a sprinkle of parsley. 


and serve with lemon ginger kevita! kevita is a sparkling probiotic drink that i pretty much lived on while i was writing my book, and the ginger in this flavor goes so well with hawaij for soup. also the company was started by a friend of lily’s! yayyy! i feel very country bumpkin that i didn’t find out about it until very recently but i’m hooked now because it’s way tastier than drinking plain jane fizzy water, not too sweet, and it’s healthy because of all of the probiotics. 

-yeh!

thank you so much for sponsoring this post, kevita! all opinions are mine. kevita makes 11 flavors of their sparkling probiotic drinks which each contain (4 billion cfu’s) and 6 different kombuchas made with fermented green and black tea leaves. their kombucha also contains probiotics, as well as b vitamins and organic acids to boost energy. all of their drinks are dairy free, gluten free, kosher, non-gmo, organic, and vegan and you can click here to see where you can find some! (i get mine at target!) click here for more information on kevita!

 

 

vegan chai cheesecake with earl grey fig sauce

here was my breakfast! emma’s amazing vegan chai cheesecake, it was *eye rolls to the back of my head* amazing. eggpop has a vegan lunch club on saturdays so i'm donating these little cakes to that but saving all of the scraps for my lunch and dinner and probably breakfast tomorrow too. mmm so good.

gosh geez so much has happened since we last spoke:

-the town bakery went up for sale which spurred a medium long, medium serious conversation with eggboy about whether or not we should buy it and turn it into a halva house but ultimately, for a number of reasons, including my subpar people management skills and an aversion to showering on a regular basis, we decided that other people would be way more fit for the job. is it you? would you like a bakery? do you want to move to a town that looks like a snow globe and has a cinnamon scented movie theater?

-book writing is chugging along and i’ve adjusted my sleep schedule for it because i’ve found i like writing more late at night. i’ve been waking up at kelly and michael o’clock and going to bed way past midnight. i kinda like it, but i’ll have to adjust back for photographing days in order to catch the good light.

-i stuck my face in food & wine and brought knoephla, paprikash, halva challah, and pickled eggies! 

-sia came out with a new song

-so did lucius

-and aoife’s new album is streaming

-so it’s been a really strong music week

-also look at this city ballet trailer

-i made a rhubarb sauce because way back in april, i just knew that i would procrastinate testing the rhubarb recipe for my book so i froze some for this very week. the second to last week before my manuscript is due. thank you, self of the past.

-a halva and tahini store opened in chelsea maket! holy heck. that’ll be my first stop in new york next time i’m there. and can someone get me this neon tahini sign??!!!!

-registration opened up for the photography workshop that i’m giving in australia in july with sophie and luisa!!! it’s going to include cake. and i’m gonna pet a koala, and watch our lips are sealed on the plane, and eat lamingtons upon lamingtons, i can’t contain my excitement! will you come? i think spots are jussst about filled, but there may be a few left!

...so it’s all very apropos that i’m sharing a recipe today from one of my very favorite australia (now new zealand!) based bloggers, who i hope i’ll get to see in july!! i met sweet emma at the saveur awards last year where she showed me her beautiful book that is filled with so many colors by way of amazing fresh fruit that i could only dream of having way up here. i’ve been waiting waiting waiting for it to come out in the states, and in the fall it finally did! in the past, her recipes have inspired my tarts and my obsession with tahini fudge (ooh yeah, get on that), and now her book is inspiring me to make things like choux puffs with labneh and strawberry jam and tahini orange coconut muesli, and they’re all gluten free and vegetarian. 

this “cheesecake” is so smooth, creamy, and miles away from your average cream cheese cheesecake. in fact, i’m inclined to say that calling it a cheesecake doesn’t do it enough justice because i know how there are some people who are turned off by a tangy cream cheese cheesecake. josh suggested “silken cashew tarte.” idk. my point is, it’s fantastic and you shouldn't let any preconceived notions of tangy cheesecake get in the way of your decision to make this. i could barely get all of the filling onto the crust because i wanted to eat it all with a spoon. in her book, it’s topped with fresh figs and cut into slices, but fig season is far away and because i didn’t want to give eggpop partially eaten cheesecake to bring to his lunch club, i cut the thing into a bunch of mini cakes and saved the scraps for myself. and i also get all of the leftover fig sauce. it’s a win win win win win situation. make this.


emma’s vegan chai “cheesecake” with earl grey fig sauce

from emma galloway’s my darling lemon thyme

serves 12 or more

ingredients

crust:

1 1/2 c pitted dates, roughly chopped

2/3 c whole raw almonds

1 tb virgin coconut oil

filling:

3 c raw cashews, soaked overnight in cold water and drained

3/4 c virgin coconut oil, melted if solid

1/2 c lemon juice

1/2 c maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

seeds from 20 cardamom pods (3/4 tsp ground)

6 whole cloves (1/2 tsp ground)

1/2 tsp fennel seeds (1/2 tsp ground)

1/2 tsp black peppercorns (just over 1/4 tsp ground)

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

earl grey fig sauce:

3/4 c boiling water

2 earl grey tea bags

1/2 c firmly packed sliced dried figs

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tb maple syrup

fresh figs, to serve, optional

clues

to make the crust, line the base and side of a 10” loose-bottomed cake pan with parchment paper. place dates, almonds, and coconut oil in a food processor and blend on high until finely ground. press mixture into the base of the tin, using the back of a spoon to pack down firmly.

to make the filling, place the drained cashews, coconut oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a blender and set aside for a minute. finely grind the whole spices with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. add to the blender along with the ground ginger and cinnamon. blend on high until smooth. you may need to help things along a little by stopping occasionally and giving things a stir. pour over the crust and smooth the surface. place in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until set (you can also chill overnight in the fridge if preferred). cheesecake slices will store in a covered container in the freezer for up to 1 month. remove from the freezer 20-30 minutes before serving to allow to soften.

to make early grey fig sauce, combine the boiling water, tea, and figs in a small glass bowl of jug, pressing the figs down to fully submerge, and leave until cool. remove and discard tea bags, squeezing them to extract as much flavor as you can. transfer to a blender, add lemon juice and maple syrup, and blend on high until smooth. serve cheesecake with earl grey fig sauce and fresh figs, if in season.


za'atar + labneh breakfast panzanella

i think i am at the point in this book-writing marathon that’s equivalent to when actual marathon runners start peeing themselves (that is an actual thing that happens in marathons, right? or no?) since every missed bathroom break is a chance to pull ahead.

ok, no! i am not sitting on my couch with my laptop and peeing in my pants, but it’s gotten to the point where every time i look away from my manuscript* i feel the imaginary magnetic stress-induced pull to come back and edit this bagel dog recipe or find a better way to tell the eggboy fart story

*to pee/to look outside at the snow and macaroni/to check peach! omg, peach. i don’t even get it at all but booping people is so fun. come find me, @molly is my user name (!) cha-ching. 

and it’s ironically gotten to the point where i forget to actually eat until halfway through the day when i staaart typinh all the words liek this. 

so that’s when i make this za’atar labneh breakfast panzanella using the leftover za’atar bread that’s going in the book and eggs from macaroni right out of the most kickass chicken egg holster that stoopie and stoopie husband got us for chrismukkah. is this an actual panzanella? no, that’s just a fancy way to say that this salad-type-thing is heavy on the ripped up bread. i’ve had to splurge on some out of season mint for some recipe testing purposes, so my version of this thing has had some fresh summery feelings going on. but if you don’t have access to fresh mint, you can use parsley or cilantro or just skip the herbs altogether. there is nothing precise about this! adjust it to your liking, make a big batch if you’re hungry and a small batch if you’re not. this dish is refreshing and bright while being 💯 satisfying and comforting, thanks to a pile of squishy fried bread. 


za'atar + labneh breakfast panzanella

serves 1

ingredients

olive oil
a handful of bread, ripped into chunks
za’atar
kosher salt
black pepper
an egg
a plop of labneh or plain greek yogurt
about 1/4 english cucumber, diced
a few leaves of mint, chopped
a sprinkle of crumbled feta, optional
a squeeze of lemon juice

clues

heat a nice even layer of olive oil in a skillet over medium until hot but not smoking. add the bread and cook, stirring occasionally until it’s lightly fried and browned. cover it with za’atar and some salt and pepper and either remove it from the skillet or scoot it off to the side to make room for the egg. crack the egg in and cook until the white is firm but the yolk is still runny (covering the pan will help move this process along).

spread the plop of labneh or yogurt into a shallow bowl and top with the cucumber, mint, feta (if using), a squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper, and a good drizzle of olive oil. top with the bread and egg. salt and pepper the egg, and enjoy!

 


-yeh!