Almond Magic Cake

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so obsessed with a recipe.  I pinned it years ago, and somehow forgot about it, though the idea was fascinating.  Then over winter break this year I stumbled back across it and knew I had to give it a try.

Almond Magic Cake | Finding Time for Cooking

I did make one major change to the recipe.  The original is for a vanilla cake, but my M.O. in life is, why make something vanilla when it can be almond instead??  I mean, seriously.  This cake is really easy to throw together, and yields the most amazing, creamy, custardy, flan-y cake.  I ended up making it again a few days later, in a gluten-free version (to be posted here later once I’ve perfected it).  Give this a try, you won’t be disappointed! [Read more…]

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Financiers

As someone who loves all things gluten-y (I did grow up on a wheat farm, after all), the whole idea of gluten-free makes me sad.

But the reality of gluten-free baking makes me even sadder. And it’s a reality for lots of people. I never really thought about it much until recently, when I had a friend who had realized he had a pretty decent level of gluten-intolerance and so he and his wife have gone gluten-free. This guy used to devour all my cookies, load up on waffles, and eat my leftover pasta, so this is a majorly big deal. So I’ve tried to start playing around with alternative, gluten-free dessert recipes…and have discovered that it’s really hard!

Chocolate Financier Heart

See, the thing about most gluten-free recipes that I’ve found is that—in addition to their strange and interesting flour alternatives—they often call for some weird ingredients to use as a binding agent, since that’s normally where the gluten comes in. But as much as I love cooking with real ingredients and whole foods, I just shrink back from recipes that include xantham gum and other things that don’t sound like they’re that natural. So, other than puddings and custards, the pickings are slim.

Then I found this gem of a recipe…

chocolate financier inside

I wasn’t even looking for a gluten-free recipe when I found it. I was (as I tend to do) going down a rabbit hole on Smitten Kitchen’s site and hopping from link to link. I was browsing the red wine chocolate cake when I found these. They’re called financiers (pronounced all fancy and French like “fee-nahn-see-ay”), and they’re made with almond flour. I don’t know the full history, but they probably weren’t even meant to be gluten-free initially—just delicious. In fact, the traditional ones aren’t even chocolate as far as I know.

Chocolate Financiers

I whipped these suckers up in five minutes flat, and so they were done in about 15-20 minutes from start to finish. The almond flour gives them an interesting consistency, somewhere between a brownie and a cookie. Kind of fudgy. All delicious. And the Dutch dark cocoa powder adds a super special flavor, as does the hint of almond extract in there. If you don’t have almond flour, you can get it at Trader Joe’s, probably in the health section of your grocery store, and most certainly online (Amazon Prime is your friend!). You will wow people with these, and they are a super speedy crowd pleaser to have in your dessert arsenal! [Read more…]

Giovanna’s Family Secret Tiramisu Recipe

Tiramisu is possibly the best food in the world. Sweet, cold, creamy, with the bite of coffee and liquor. But I rarely have it, and almost never make it. I’ve found that restaurants in the U.S. get something wrong (not sure what it is—too bready? flavor’s off?) and while actually making tiramisu isn’t difficult, finding the right ingredients IS.

Giovanna's family tiramisu recipe, learned it from my host mom when studying abroad

My host mom from when I studied abroad, Giovanna, was the best cook, and gave me her family’s recipes for her pasta con pesto and tiramisu. And all of the sudden last Saturday night, I got it in my head that I HAD to make it for dinner the next evening. However, none of the stores had lady fingers (I called around), so I made my own. See separate post, the recipe I used is here. It was surprisingly easy. Or you could substitute madeleines or pound cake or angel food cake (the first would be better than the other two).

tiramisu finished

tiramisu finished2

I even made myself my own little personal-size serving in a cute little ramekin that I could eat that night!  [Read more…]

Homemade Ladyfinger Cookies (for Tiramisu)

Ladyfinger cookies just sound so…out there. Like something about which Violet, Dowager Countess at Downton Abbey, would toss out a little bon mot, reminding kitchen maid Daisy about the importance of delicately handling a situation whilst simultaneously praising the “pudding”. In other words,  ladyfingers don’t sound like something you and I are going to be making anytime soon.

ladyfingers finished

Except, we are. And it’s really quite easy. We’ll show that Dowager Countess who’s boss.

(And, yes, I might be a little too obsessed with Downton Abbey. Partly because Dame Maggie Smith is full of awesome).

ladyfingers finished closeup

I didn’t really intend to make my own ladyfingers, but I called a few different grocery stores to see if they had them for my tiramisu (recipe to follow), and they didn’t, so I had to review my other options. You can use pound cake or angel food cake, but those have a very different texture. You can also use madeleines, which I wish I’d remembered at the time but I didn’t, so here we are. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy making my own ladyfingers was.  [Read more…]

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