carrot cake with hawaij and tahini caramel frosting

It’s my birthday! Yay! More importantly, however, my pops is turning 60 tomorrow. Sixty! His hair is still heavier on the pepper than the salt, and he wears a Bernie Sanders t-shirt every day. And the other day he told me with a spring in his step that he plans to work for at least like 20 more years, which made me really happy because one downside about living in Winterfell is that I can’t go to his concerts whenever I please. So I’m feeling pretty good that he has 20 years of that klezmer section in Mahler one left in him. 

His true superhero power though is that he’s like a human garbage disposal in that he eats everything, in monstrous quantities (even if it’s years past the expiration date), and he loves all of  the food. With the exception of goat cheese. One thing in particular that he couldn’t shut up about recently was a carrot cake from the Blue Door Farm Stand, near where he lives. The cake is huge and filled with nuts and my dad just foams at the mouth about it. So this year for my birthday, but more importantly his, I’ve gained an understanding of carrot cake.

When I worked at the town bakery, I dreaded making carrot cake because it required using the food processor, the stand mixer, piping bags to make the little carrots, and (ugh) the can opener to open up the can of pineapple. H8 can openers. But carrot cake is good, and the process of making it is pretty unique, so it was time I got to know it. 

The first thing that aided my understanding of it was the idea that “carrot cake is ultimately a spice cake.” The carrots aren’t meant to be front and center, and Allison confirms this in her non-negotiables of carrot cake, which you all should read right now. It sets the world straight on pineapple, coconut, and raisins. Which I agree with, because a raisin’s place in my kitchen is *exclusively* on ants on a log, and also because I like the idea of achieving the best possible cake with the least amount of ingredients. Pineapple and coconut are for another time and another cake, for now we’re sticking with carrots, spices, cream cheese frosting, and cake. 

I began my testing process with my go-to vanilla cake:

1 3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/2 tsp each: salt, baking powder, baking soda

2 large eggs

1 c buttermilk

1/2 c oil

1 tb vanilla

3/4 c water

Combine dry, combine wet, combine em all, bake. 

Then I added spices: a few teaspoons of cinnamon and hawaij for coffee, the yemeni spice mix that’s a blend of all of my favorite sweeter spices, like nutmeg and cardamom, which I thought would go perfectly with carrots and...

Brown sugar: I subbed 1 c of the sugar for brown sugar because a defining feature of carrot cake is that darker, molasses-y flavor. 

And of course carrots: when carrots are added, you’re essentially adding a ton of water, so the water and milk in my recipe went goodbye. The new recipe looked like this:

1 c brown sugar

3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/2 tsp each: salt, baking powder, baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp hawaij

2 large eggs

1/2 c oil

1 tb vanilla

2 c shredded carrots

Before I went ahead and tested this, I read about a thousand more carrot cake recipes, and found that, a) most of them had at least double the eggs and oil as my recipe, and b) a lot of them required a method where you cream the eggs and sugar first until they’re fluffy and then drizzle in the fat. In other words, one more step and another dirty stand mixer bowl. Allison’s recipe however required beating together the carrots and sugar first. And then a few of the recipes required oil and sugar first, and then adding the eggs one at a time. I wanted to know what the difference was between each of these methods. 

So I started an internet thread about it and got some great answers from Stella, Allison, Ali, and a whole bunch of other kind people. Here was a selection of the findings:

-Beating eggs + sugar first helps aerate the cake, giving slightly more lift and offsetting the denseness of the sugar 

-Beating carrots + sugar first helps release all of the moisture from the carrots

-More eggs are required for the structure and to help the leavening work, and more oil is required to keep it moist and not eggy (I think I still have some questions about this…)

So here were the new measurements:

1 c brown sugar

3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/2 tsp each: salt, baking powder, baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp hawaij

4 large eggs

1 1/2 c oil

1 tb vanilla

2 c shredded carrots

I went ahead and tested the four different methods that I was wondering about and did side-by-side comparisons. Here they are along with their notes:

A: mixing dry, mixing wet, folding in the carrots [the laziest way]

-batter is thick, dark, and chunky and not well combined, kind of oily, almost like a brownie batter

-cake is dense and good! has a great caramelized crust. center is slightly oily.

-baked for about 33 minutes

B: whisking sugar and oil first by hand, whisking in eggs on at a time, folding in dry ingredients and carrots [slightly less lazy, but still doesn't use a stand mixer]

-nice batter that held its shit together. smooth and dark.

-cake is dense and GOOD

-baked for about 33 minutes

C: beating sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, then drizzling in fat, adding dry, folding in carrots [The Stella Method]

-batter is very light, more yellow, and fluffy, so satisfying to beat the eggs

-it rose WAY more, layer is about 1/2” taller than A and B, smooth on top

-needed about 38 minutes in the oven, longer than A and B

-cake was fluffy, less moist than A and B

D: beating carrots, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer with a paddle until sandy, combining eggs and oil and then adding those, adding dry [The Allison Method]

-batter was golden color (between A/B and C), way more liquidy and bubbly

-cake domed nicely, the smoothest top out of the four

-cake was fluffy, less moist than A and B

(left to right: the batters and layers of a, b, c, d. sorry these aren't the best photos, a and b were sitting upside down on the wire rack for a little bit before i took the pictures which is why they have all of those little lines in them.)

(left to right: a, b, c, d)

It was so fascinating to see one set of identical ingredients, all mixed up with different methods. They were all great! With methods C and D, the ingredient list would have to adjust to lean heavier on the fat (and maybe sugar?) to provide slightly more moisture. But in general my cake preference is usually on the denser side, so I chose to fly with method B, excited with the added bonus that it doesn’t require a stand mixer. 

Then I tested something that caught my eye in Stella’s recipe, browned butter! I am fairly new to brown butter but it seems like everyone flips out about it. I used method B. Here were my notes:

-batter looks pretty much the same as B

-brown butter flavor definitely present in cake

-texture very similar to B, slightly grainy, which was good, slightly more structural integrity, also good

-I don’t know that I necessary like brown butter flavor…. am I a monster if I don’t like browned butter?

I’m still going back and forth about whether or not I like brown butter. I really feel like a monster about this. The cake made with brown butter tastes exactly like a brown butter cake with spices, so if you know that you love brown butter, this is the option for you. I’ve included both options in the recipe below. 

Brown butter or not, I am very happy with this cake. It is dense, moist, and fit for my pops' 60th birthday!

Ok, let's now move on to the frosting. Do you know BJ’s story about carrot cake? And you've already read Allison's frosting non-negotiables right? So carrot cake has to have the best frosting and it has to be cream cheese frosting, we’re all on the same page about that. 

I wasn’t going to fuck around with the frosting too much until halfway through my research when I found the halva caramel cream cheese frosting in Soframiz, and girl, it kept me up at night. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve always flipped past cakes that have caramel in the frosting because the thought of cleaning caramel out of a pot stresses me out and I honestly don’t love caramel. But obviously if you add tahini to anything I am sold. So I gave it a shot, using the caramel that Maya and I made for our molten halva lava cakes, and it turns out that such a small quantity of caramel only takes a few quick minutes to make and is actually really satisfying. The caramel mixed with the cream cheese and butter makes for a frosting that is nutty, not too sweet, full of flavor, and an important part of a really nice civilized slice of carrot cake. 

And the addition of tahini all makes sense because carrots go with cinnamon, cinnamon goes with hawaij, cinnamon goes with tahini, tahini goes with caramel, carrots go with tahini, etc., etc., guilty by association, there is a great flavor party happening in this cake. 

Ok I’m done talking about carrot cake for now. 

Oh pistachios! I added them because I like them. And sesame seeds are there because that’s what Soframiz does and I like that there is some sesame continuity now with the frosting. And marzipan carrots are my non-negotiable. 

Ok I’m really done now. 

Happy birthday to me and to my pops! I am spending the day decorating cake and making hotdish and recovering from a weekend of piñata making, taco eating, and rhombus brewery shutting downing!

K bye!

carrot cake with hawaij and tahini caramel frosting

makes two 8" one-layer cakes (pictured) or one 8" two-layer cake


for the cake:

2 1/2 c (340g) all-purpose flour 

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda 

2 tsp cinnamon 

1 tsp hawaij (or sub 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cardamom, and a pinch each of nutmeg and cloves)

1 c (166g) c brown sugar 

3/4 c (154g) c granulated sugar

1 1/2 c (320g) oil (to sub browned butter, brown 400g butter using stella’s directions and cool

4 large eggs 

1 tb vanilla bean paste or extract

2 c (200g) freshly shredded carrots 

Optional: 2 tb toasted sesame seeds and/or 90g chopped roasted pistachios

for the frosting:

6 tb (76g) granulated sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tb water

1/4 c (63g) heavy cream

1/2 c (114g) unsalted butter, softened and divided

3 tb (48g) tahini

8 oz (226g) cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

to assemble:

Shaved carrot flowers

Marzipan kneaded with orange and green food coloring and shaped into flowers


Sesame seeds


Birthday candles


for the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line two 8” cake pans with parchment and set aside.

in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and hawaij and set aside. in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and granulated sugar with the oil. whisk in each of the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. whisk in the vanilla extract.

using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until about 90% incorporated. add the carrots, sesame seeds and pistachios (if using), and mix to incorporate (and by this time all of the flour mixture should be incorporated as well).

pour the batter into cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

for the frosting:

first make the tahini caramel: place the sugar and 1/8 tsp salt in a saucepan. stir in the water and cook over high heat until it starts to bubble. stop stirring and continue cooking for 2-4 minutes until it turns a medium amber color. reduce heat to low and carefully drizzle in the cream while stirring (it will bubble up quickly and make a weird sucking sound, don’t be alarmed). continue to stir until the mixture smooths out. add half of the butter (1/4 c), cube by cube, stirring, until mixture is thick and homogeneous.

remove from the heat and stir in the tahini. let cool and refrigerate until ready to use. this can be made a day in advance. 

To make the frosting, combine the caramel, remaining 1/4 c butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and remaining 1/8 tsp salt in a stand mixer and mix with a paddle attachment until smooth. 

to assemble:

frost each cake liberally with frosting and decorate as desired! or, stack the two cakes for the two-layer version. 



rose rose cookies + philly scenes

hey everyone! great news, i still fit into my mom jeans after my trip to philly where i ate at every single one of michael solomonov and steve cook’s restaurants in 48 hours. i’d like to thank benjamin franklin for having his bridge so close to my hotel which, paired with the coldplay spotify radio station and consistent 69º temperatures, allowed for highly enjoyable 3-4-mile morning jogs that helped me feel less irresponsible about engaging in so much eating research. also, defo could not have done it without the help of brandiego, jorge, brett, zoe, and sarah, who were also miraculously in town visiting and helped me tackle mountains of donuts and boloney sandwiches and more.

every single bite was sooo great, which i expected. but at every meal there were things that were more than great, which had that wild over-the-top x-factor that left me no choice but to stop mid-bite and do an audible o-face. they raised the bar for what a donut should taste like and how a fried cauliflower should crunch, and there was a caesar salad that kept me up last night. a caesar salad! 10 out of 10, this trip was a solid success and i am filled to the brim with inspiration. also the panel was a blast!! and an added bonus: philadelphia is no longer ex-boyfriend land (see: spaghetti and my boyfriend’s meatless balls in molly on the range), now it is food inspiration land. 

here were the top o-face worthy things:

the insanely rich chocolate tahini shake at goldie (and their perfectly crispy fries, dipped in the shake, duh)

the schug-a-rita at rooster soup, cilantro-y and spicy!

the smoked matzo ball soup (#teamsinker) with a fried boloney sandwich at rooster soup

the cookies n cream donut, followed closely by the honey donut at federal donuts, mmmm, hot and melty 

the fried chicken sandwich at federal donuts, the bottom bun was like lined with pickles, it was the pickley crunch that every fried chicken sandwich needs

the za’atar fried chicken at federal donuts, with a crispy salty shell that wouldn't quit

the ceasar salad with fried rye bread pudding croutons (!!!!) at abe fisher

actually, all of the things that came on fried rye bread at abe fisher

the lamb and persian wedding rice at zahav, i don't normally love lamb but this lamb, i loved

the very hazelnut-y carrot basbousa at zahav

the hummus at zahav and dizengoff (especially the zahav one bc it came with laffaaaaa)

my only regret was that i didn't have time to cook in my really pretty jersey ice cream co hotel kitchen. instead i just looked at it and instagrammed it. (shout out to the lokal hotel for an awesome stay!!!) 

i can't wait for my next trip to philly. whenever that will be. first i should eat some kale.

for my second flower practice session, i made cookies because i was inspired by this instagram post and also i thought that maybe with cookies, i could forgo the parchment paper step altogether. but it was actually kind of hard to pipe directly onto the cookies so i went back to the method of piping on parchment squares, freezing them, and then peeling off the flowers and plopping them onto the cookies. it didn’t add that much time, maybe only one or two episodes of the mindy project. and eggboy was planting late that day so it all went by really quickly. 

i used italian buttercream this time. my lack of patience got the best of me and i ruined it because i added the butter while the egg white mixture was still hot. so it looked like poop for a while, but then i poured in a couple of tablespoons of cold heavy cream and beat the crap out of it and it came back to life!! that was very satisfying. 

i liked how it tasted. it’s a lot lighter and probably more suitable for eating a big blob of frosting in the shape of a rose than american buttercream is. but my hands were so used to a stiff heavy american buttercream that piping with italian felt almost too delicate. it was like switching to the lowest gear on a bike. but the lightness made the petals and succulent nubbins stand up more easily on their own, so i feel like once i get it down i’ll be able to do more with it. the biggest downside is how long it takes to make. if i’m going to be making a million zillion flowers for eggsister wedding i’m going to need a hot tub of buttercream, but i still have some time to experiment with more recipes.

my favorite part about this cookie situation is the cookie part! i was obsessed with cookies n bloom cookies when i was little, they were so thick and almondy and cakey, and this recipe yields cookies that come super close to those! the princess emulsion gives them that little boost of nostalgic bakeriness but you can sub it for more vanilla if you don’t have princess emulsion. and as far as the actual piping of the roses and succulents, i still don't feel qualified to tell you how to do it or make a video about it (honestly i don't think that i ever will haha, look at my roses, they are so *rustic*) so i will send you back to my post about my last practice session that has a bunch of links to how-to videos! 

rose rose cookies

makes about 20 cookies


3 3/4 c (510g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 c (137g) sugar

2/3 c (80g) powdered sugar

zest from 1/2 of a lemon

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp princess emulsion (or another tsp vanilla)

3/4 tsp almond extract


for the frosting:

this recipe, plus a few drops of rosewater and food coloring


in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

add in the lemon zest and mix to combine. add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each, and then add the extracts.

turn the dough out onto the counter and divide into two large discs. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or up to two days.

when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

working with one dough disc at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2” thick. use a cookie cutter to make 2 1/2” circles and then transfer circles to a baking sheet, 1" apart. re-roll scraps and cut out more circles.

bake until they're barely starting to brown on bottom, begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

make your frosting and then decorate as desired (see notes above)! 


ramp malawach

This weekend totally nailed it. Nothing was too strongly out of the ordinary (except that brunch club member emeritus Abby came back to town for a visit with her new special man friend and it was sooo great and, ugh, we’ve gotta find a way to convince them to move back to grand forks you guys), I just did some simple errands, cooked fun things for family and friends, and engaged in my favorite saturday mid-morning ritual of going to the gym and then getting a turkey tom with onions on 7-grain at jimmy john's. “gym and jimmy john's” is its official name and it’s basically a way for the chill of pizza friday to take a victory lap. I don’t have to make any real decisions, I can sleep in and then cruise around town, ideally with a met opera broadcast la-la-la-ing over the radio, and then have a big mayo-y sandwich at the end. 

This particular saturday morning was extra good because in my first internet check of the day I came across this video of my friend matt playing the mozart sinfonia concertante with the minnesota orchestra. It is pure joy!! Is his mozart face not the best?? (The eyebrows! The delight!) So that set the jolliest, most civilized tone for the weekend and inspired me to listen to more mozart and then some mahler during my jimmy john's eating and new cookbook studying. At 5 o’clock, A Prairie Home Companion came on and I watched the video broadcast as I chopped cabbage. I really really love Chris Thile’s PHC. Even though he’s not from the Midwest, I’ve always associated his voice and music with the midwest since I listened to so much Nickel Creek on road trips to Michigan growing up, so I’m extremely happy and proud that we’ve adopted him. Being able to hear him play new songs live over the radio on the regular is such a gift. 

Yesterday I harvested our first bit of rhubarb!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I used it to make a sauce for mother’s day blintzes. We had a nice big mother’s day brunch of blintz soufflé, zucchini quiche, challah, butter with chives from the garden, this rose rose cake which I finally defrosted, and some salady things. The quiche and blintz soufflé were made from recipes that I was testing for Leah’s forthcoming book and they were delicious, I can’t wait for her next book. 

Today I’m flying to Philadelphia for this panel tomorrow! (It is sold out but it will be live-streamed on facebook I think.) I am also planning to eat at all of Mike Solomonov’s restaurants in a pokémon-style gotta-catch-em-all early birthday present to myself. I am so excited. Wish me and my waistline luck. 

Here is a recipe that helped me get through all of the many bunches of ramps that eggboy bought the other day! At first I was going to make scallion pancakes with ramp greens instead of scallions but then I dug a bit further and learned that making malawach (a flaky yemeni flatbread) is a very similar process except that it uses butter instead of sesame oil and the dough gets stretched way thinner so you get more flakiness. I was in a buttery flaky mood, and I had just almost died over the amazing malawach at kismet in l.a., so I went with ramp malawach. 

Malawach is like a rustic flat hot croissant that’s way easier to make than a croissant. There truly is life before your first malawach and life after because there is no more perfect bite than a piece of malawach, hot out of the pan, topped with grated tomato, a plop of labneh, and a splatter of spicy zhoug. Grated tomato is traditional with yemeni buttery breads and it delivers just the right amount of freshness to balance everything out.

The dough here is pretty much the same as the scallion pancake dough in my book, but I read here that the kismet ladies use some pastry flour in theirs so I tried that and loved the extra bit of lightness that it added. The process of shaping malawach and getting the dough to be paper thin requires massaging it with a shit ton of butter. It's a lil messy, but it doesn't need to be perfect, and bonus: you'll moisturize your hands and butcher block countertops (if that's what you're using) in the process. 

Obviously if you're not up to your eyeballs in ramps, or maybe you're sick of them by now, you can use scallion greens, chives, or nix the idea of green things altogether. I threw the white parts of the ramps into some zhoug in the place of garlic which was a thing I'd do again. Also: You can make these ahead of time! Once you've shaped them, wrap them in plastic wrap, keeping each pancake separated by a layer of wax paper, and freeze them for up to a few months. Thaw at room temp for an hour or so before cooking.

Happy Malawach-ing!!! 

ramp malawach

makes 6


1 1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

3/4 c pastry flour

2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 c water

3/4 c butter, very soft

10 ramps (green parts, finely chopped, add the white parts to zhoug or reserve for another use)


for serving



2 large tomatoes, grated

3 or 4 seven-minute eggs


in a large bowl, combine the flour, pastry flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. create a well in the center and add the water. mix the dough until you have a shaggy dough. 

turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead dough for 5-7 minutes, adding additional flour as needed, until smooth.

transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 6 balls. Keep them covered with plastic wrap when you're not working with them. Using your hands, spread 1 tablespoon butter on a large work surface, top one of the balls of dough with another tablespoon butter and pat the dough and butter out into a flat circle.

Using a flat hand, gently massage it in circular motions (kind of as if you’re washing a window) to flatten it out into a very large translucent circle. It’s ok if it’s tears, it doesn’t need to be perfect, just try to get it as thin as possible! 

Top with a sprinkling of the ramp greens and then roll it up into one long, skinny log. roll the log into a coil and set it on a plate. repeat with the remaining dough.

roll out the coils into 7" circles by placing them between two pieces of wax paper and rolling with a rolling pin. the dough will probably want to stick to the wax paper, but it's ok if it tears while you're peeling it off. (alternatively, you can stick the coils in the fridge for about 30 minutes, which will make them slightly easier to handle.)

Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook fora few minutes on both sides until golden brown. (Or: see notes above for freezing if you're not cooking them immediately.)

Serve hot with zhoug, labneh, grated tomatoes, and 7-minute eggs. Enjoy!


saffron, cardamom, and rosewater tiramisu

spring planting has officially begun and i have had the most splendid week, baking up a storm, using up all of the flour to make room in the world for eggboy to grow more wheat. or something like that! in the past few days i made my first malawach, my first kuku, and also did some serious carrot cake experiments and ramp pickling because eggboy brought home 16 bunches the other day. i had the mindy project on in the background this whole week and now i don’t think i’ll be able to watch it without craving carrot cake and ramps in the same way that i feel the need to make donuts every time i watch bojack. 

the town co-op went out of business over the weekend. it makes me blue every time i think of it but i can’t say we didn’t see it coming. bagel sunday was part of a last effort to try and save it, and while it was fun and successful, it wasn’t enough to save the co-op. i’m hoping to find another space for bagel sunday but for now eggboy and i are helping the board and members figure out what comes next for the organization. the good thing is that just because the grocery store is out of business, it doesn’t mean that the membership has disbanded, so the community is still there and a lot of the members are hoping to create a new space. i’d be so happy if i could still get their #2 sandwich (hold the sprouts) and just generally have a cute downtown hang with cool friendly people. 

also until yesterday i was a little nervous about how i was going to get my ramp fix next spring since the co-op wouldn’t be there to order them for me, but then eggboy got a cryptic text from sheila and dave with a picture of freshly picked ramps. we think it’s from somewhere in north dakota, but eggboy’s too afraid to ask out of fear that they won’t want to disclose their secret stash (*cue the eye roll of the week*).

so anyway i don’t have a good segue to this but i have to tell you about this tiramisu. by definition, i’m not a tiramisu person as i have a very strict liquid intake schedule that goes as follows:

morning-12pm: coffee, as much as i can drink within that time period

12pm-5pm: green tea, 1-2 mugs

5pm-bedtime: booze, these days it’s 1/2 a glass of wine sunday-thursday, and then friday and saturday double that, maybe

because tiramisu is drenched in coffee, and because i’ve just never really been moved by the flavors of it, i have never ever ordered it at a restaurant. it feels outdated and not worth the calories. and let’s go broader here: while i’m always curious about restaurant dessert menus in the name of research and inspiration, it’s extraordinarily rare that i get to dessert and think aww shucks, i should have eaten less schnitzel so that i could have saved room for this quenelle of gelato with crunchies on it. while i prefer making sweet things, i definitely prefer eating savory things. 

all of this was shattered when we were at nosh berlin in march and ate this here rosewater cardamom tiramisu at a pop-up shabbat meal cooked by sophie and xenia von oswald. sophie and xenia are german iranian sisters who grew up in australia and now live in berlin, and they made a persian feast that was one course after another of food i want to eat again and again and again. it included a very saffrony tahdig and dreamy short ribs and a perfectly acidic tabbouleh. oh i just couldn’t stop with that tahdig, it was insane. and then when this tiramisu came i thought, oh i’ll just have a bite of eggboy’s because i was so full on short ribs and tahdig, but that was the wrong thing to think because after one bite i just wanted to cry about how good it was. it was all of my favorite flavors, wrapped up into a pile of velvety fluff. light but luxurious, it was perfect after such a huge great meal. actually it was perfect, period. suddenly it was the tiramisu that made me love tiramisu and the inspiration alone was my favorite souvenir from that week in berlin.

luckily i didn’t have to blindly claw my away around my first tiramisu when i got home because sophie and xenia shared their recipe with me, yay!!! oh it’s so good and not too hard to make. and it's a perfect dessert if you need something to prepare in advance. here are some notes from my inaugural tiramisu experience:

-i was not successful the first time around because i tried pasteurizing macaroni’s eggs since sometimes they’re often a bit dirty and i get so paranoid that if the outside of the shell accidentally touches the insides when i’m cracking it that i’ll get salmonella. it turns out i suck at pasteurizing. so after i learned that i went out and bought pasteurized eggs since this recipe has raw egg. 

-i made homemade ladyfingers for this! i used the recipe from luisa’s book and ended up using the whole batch of about 60 in this since they were much smaller than the store-bought kind.

-i didn’t have vanilla liqueur so i subbed vanilla extract and used 1 tb in the tea and 2 tsp in the yolk mixture.

-since my rosewater is super strong, i started by just adding a teaspoon and then added more bit by bit.

thank you sophia and xenia for sharing this recipe!!! berlin friends, go check out their events!

saffron, cardamom, and rosewater tiramisu

serves 6

By Sophie & Xenia von Oswald AKA Rocket & Basil


300 ml VERY STRONG Earl Grey Tea

2 tb simple syrup

4 tb vanilla liqueur

6 large eggs 

150 g caster sugar

500 g mascarpone

A healthy pinch of Saffron 

1 tb rose water

10-15 ladyfingers

1 tsp ground cardamom

rose petals and pistachios, for serving 


First, make the tea, allowing it to brew for at least 15-20 Minutes [using about 4 tea bags]. You want it to have a really strong earl grey flavor, almost to the point of being bitter. Sweeten with simple sugar syrup and 2 tablespoons of the vanilla liqueur, then allow to cool.

Make saffron essence: Use a mortar and pestle to grind the saffron (saving a few strands) into a super fine powder (adding a pinch of sugar to the mortar will help this along), pour over 50 ml of just boiled water and cool.

Separate the eggs, then whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until the eggs are frothy, creamy, doubled in size and all the sugar has dissolved.

With the mixer on slow speed, add the mascarpone and beat until smooth, then add 3-4 teaspoons of saffron essence (the color of the mixture should be a deep yellow), the remaining liqueur, rose water and saffron strands.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold them gently into the egg yolk mixture, taking care to knock out as little air as possible. Check the mixture for sweetness and add more liqueur/saffron essence if needed.

To assemble: Dip the ladyfingers quickly in the cooled down tea, top with the cream and some ground cardamom. Repeat with a second layer, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours. We prefer to do overnight! Decorate with chopped pistachios and rose petals before serving! AND ENJOY!!