The Mixing Bowl: Dutch Almond Cake by Alja and Her Mom

Today my friend Alja is kind enough to be sharing her mother's delicious recipe for almond cake. Alja and her family moved from The Netherlands to the States when she was five and although she's been living in the U.S. for many years now, deep down, she'll always been a Dutch girl at heart. Every now and again she'll bring a special Dutch treat into the office, like these bread sprinkles or the almond cake, and I get super excited! What's really great about this cake is that it looks so unassuming, but, man, is it packed with a lot of yummy almond flavor. So humble and simple, sort of like modern Dutch architecture. :-) Thanks, Alja!

You can find the complete recipe after the jump.


Blast From the Past: Pistachio Cake

I have been fixated on all things pistachio ever since I had a delicious pistachio cupcake at Sugar Sweet Sunshine last month. I always loved pistachio-flavored treats as kid (pistachio ice cream was my favorite flavor!), but somewhere along the line I stopped eating it. This may be, in part, because I grew up and started to become interested in trying new things, but also, I think, maybe, pistachio fell off the flavor charts in the dessert world. You really don't see pistachio ice cream that much anymore. Anyhoo, ever since I had that cupcake, I am all about the pistachio again! The mere thought of it makes me drool! Not pretty. So, in order to help curb my pistachio cravings, I decided to make an old school pistachio cake. You know, the kind that requires one box of cake mix and one box of instant Jello pudding mix.

The ingredients and the simplicity of the recipe totally brought me back to being a kid, especially when I smelled that pudding mix for the first time in ages. Such a wonderful, heavenly scent. It was definitely one of those scent/memory moments for me. I will say that making this cake was a bit surreal, not only because of the pistachio flashbacks, but because it required a boxed mix. I really, really, really, don't like boxed mixes. Don't get me wrong. They're yummy and all, but there are just too many ingredients in those things for my taste. I did manage to find a relatively harmless cake mix though, that was also gluten free: Betty Crocker's Gluten-free Cake Mix. The ingredient list on the box is short and recognizable and it was really good! You wouldn't even have known that it was gluten free! So moist and yummy! There could have been a bit more pistachio flavor in my opinion, although everyone else liked it. I've heard that you can buy pistachio paste for more intense flavor. Has anyone tried that?

You can find the complete recipe after the jump.


A Wedding Carnival

I don't know why, but every time I post something wedding related, I feel like I need to preface it by saying that I don't like weddings! I don't know why. Maybe because women and weddings are such a stereotype. So many people assume that all women are obsessed with weddings and I'm so not, never have been. For that reason, I feel like I have constantly justify wedding posts. It's if I want to say, I'm not posting this because I have a wedding fetish, but because it's totally awesome!!! :-) And as you can see it is . . . totally awesome! For a person that is not into the whole wedding thing, I went completely googly-eyed when I saw these pictures of Eunice and Daniel's wedding! Actually, my giddiness over these pictures made perfect sense to me once I discovered that Eunice, who is the co-founder and creative director of the fabulous design studio Hello! Lucky, drew inspiration for her wedding from one of my favorite photographers, the super-talented Tim Walker. Hello! Lucky + Tim Walker = me, swooning.

What do I love most about this wedding? The pie bar, of course. I love, love, love the trend in weddings to include a dessert table instead of or in addition to a traditional wedding cake. It's such a fun and homey idea! The wedding cake itself is quite cute as well, especially that silhouetted cake topper on top!

On the nondessert front, I can't get enough of the wedding platform that they used during the ceremony. Is that not the greatest wedding stage you've ever seen. Awww . . . this is definitely my dream wedding and for someone who doesn't even have a dream wedding, that's saying something!

I've only touched the tip of the party sweetness here, for more photos, see the Spring 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings or just click here. You can also find more photos on the Hello! Lucky Web site, right here. [All images by Emily Nathan.]



Holy popsicle, Batman. Have you ever seen such beautiful popsicles in your entire life?? Me neither. You may have guessed already, but these cold treats from Popbar in NYC aren't any ordinary chin covering, corn syrup laden popsicles. Nope. These babies are made out of frozen gelato and sorbetto! While the ingredients are imported from Italy, all popsicles are made with real fruit and hormone-free milk at the store, and each and every one is Kosher certified, gluten free (except for the toppings, which may or may not contain gluten), and preservative free. Here's how it works: pick your flavor, dip in chocolate (dark, white, or milk), and add toppings (Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pistachios, Shredded Coconut, Coffee Grains, Granola, Biscotti, Brownie Chunks.) You get to mix and match flavors and toppings from among 25 rotating flavors. I don't know about you, but that pistachio PopGelato has my name written all over it!

Oh, and for those of you who think this all sounds vaguely familiar, Popbar is the American version of the Stick House chain in Italy. Click here for more info.


Sweet Testing: Heaven and Hell Cake

I love the feeling you get when you make a cake and it actually turns out to be as good as you hoped it would be. There's always that worry that a cake won't live up to the hype or to its mouth-watering photos. I am happy to report that this cake did not let me down! It was sooo delicious and a really big hit! We did end up halfing the cake section of the recipe, though. Word on the street was that this cake was so rich, so decadent, that it was almost too much to handle, so we only made one angel food layer and one devils food layer and halfed each. You still have the same number of layers, they just aren't as thick. We made the same amount of peanut butter and frosting, though. Using all the peanut butter wasn't a problem, but we has gobs of frosting leftover, so, if you end up halfing the cake part, you may want to half the frosting as well. I was worried about how all these changes would affect the taste, but, even at half the size, it still had such a great flavor! I was pretty much blown away by how good it turned out!

We also made a minicake for my brother's gf, using gluten-free flour. I'm not sure how it turned out, as far as taste goes, but I thought it looked cute! :-)

Happy baking!

You can find the full recipe after the jump.


Bakery Roundup: NYC

[Portrait of a dork (me) outside Baked] Today I am very excited to present my very first bakery roundup! Woo hoo! As some of you know, late last month, I went to NYC to visit friends and to eat dessert, and, despite the two day drizzle, I still managed to hit not one, not two, but five bakeries! That's a lot of sugar, even for me! The highlights, and the lowlights, are listed after the jump.


The Mixing Bowl: Chocolate Sour Cream (Mini) Cupcakes by Kari Herer

I love Kari Herer's photographs so much that when she graciously agreed to contribute a recipe to The Mixing Bowl, I couldn't wait to see what a dessert would look like through her creative lens. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed! In fact, Kari's pics are so gorgeous, that even though I just returned from New York, where I ate lots and LOTS of cupcakes, I still can't wait to try these!

Based in Portland, Maine, Kari's photos have appeared in magazines such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Town and Country, and InStyle, among others. Much of her work is inspired by her love of nature and her botanical pieces are definitely among my favorites. I'm a huge fan of peonies, and she captures their beauty so well, so I have a soft spot for those images, but, really, I love them all! That said, deciding which images to use with this post was not an easy decision for me! There were just sooo many to choose from!

Check out Kari's Etsy shop right here. You can also check out her Web site here and her blog by clicking here. There are so many other photos to enjoy! Thanks, Kari!

You can find the complete recipe for the cupcakes, and more photos, after the jump.
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