For the Love of Olive Oil

Ever since I began watching cooking shows, it seems like olive oil, or EVOO, as one Food Network star puts it, is one of the most essential cooking ingredients one could have in their kitchen.

I suppose I can attest to that.  Many times have I reached for that bottle of EVOO in most if not all my dishes.  Well, not for fried chicken, of course.  For that I reach for my corn oil.  🙂

However, I have not used olive oil in my baked goods until last week.   I had heard of olive oil cake, in passing, but never thought of actually making it myself.  That is, until I happened upon it while dining at Tender Greens.  While waiting to pay for lunch, I was standing in front of the desserts/baked good section.   I love to look at these little dessert set-ups.  They give me great ideas for potential baked goods to create myself and I was not disappointed!

As I scoped out their desserts,  my eyes fell upon a cute little cake.  I figured it to be an orange cake and I was half right.  It was a darling little Orange Olive Oil Cake.  And at that moment, I was inspired!  I turned to the husband and told him that I HAD to make an olive oil cake this week!

So, I looked up a couple different recipes and decided to turn to my all-time favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen.  I didn’t use blood oranges, since I only had navel oranges.  But next time.  Yes.  Next time.

The cake was moist and the just right combination of olive oil and orange.  I was a bit worried that the olive oil flavor would be too strong and dominate, but the orange held its own.  I also sprinkled sugar on top for a nice crunchy top.  🙂

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Orange zest.  Sugar.  Beautiful combination.

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Real orange segments.  Buttermilk.  Fresh squeezed orange juice.

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Whisk and stir it all together now!

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Don’t you love the crackly sugar top?  Makes every bite delicious.   I was supposed to make an orange compote to serve on top, but I forgot.  But even without, this cake was a huge hit!  Slightly warmed for a moist and amazing treat.

I think I shall try to make this again, but with grapefruit!  Or blood oranges, like the recipe originally called for.   Can’t wait!  I’ll be sure to post about it if I ever do.

Hope you all had a wonderful President’s Day weekend!  Many many more posts to come.  🙂

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Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Espresso, Chocolate, Honey & Almonds!

I think I have started, stopped, restarted, and restopped, and restarteded this post so many times.  Instead of trying to write a fun intro.. I’m going to just dive in!  Ready?!

First off, we have a Oatmeal Cookie Sandwich with Peanut Butter Filling.

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When you mix together flour, spices, and oatmeal plus some nicely chopped up pecans.. do you know what you get?  Lemme tell you.  You get amazing amazing oatmeal cookies!  Oh, and you mustn’t forget the sugar and butter too.  All whipped up nice and fluffy.

And if you look closely in that first picture, do you catch a glimpse of yet another wonderful present from the husband?  Yes, it is a rabbit whisk!  Cute right?  🙂

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Yummy!  They were wonderfully soft and chewy.  They didn’t turn out as flat as I hoped.   I wanted them to be flatter so that they wouldn’t be humongous when I filled them.   But seeing how fast they disappeared… I guess it really didn’t matter.

P1230688 P1230692Beautiful, right?!  My coworkers INHALED them.  I bring them baked goods every week.  Some are hits and some are miserable misses.  But these cookies are still raved about today!   I made these cookies 2 weeks ago!  I rarely bake the same things twice, but this one, this one I must.  Otherwise… I fear retribution from the coworkers. hahaha.

Next, we have Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies.

I guess I take back what I just wrote earlier about not baking the same things twice.  I did indeed bake this before.  But thinking back I do not believe I actually posted it.  And looking back through my archives… I do believe I am correct.

This is a delicious rich buttery cookie.  I don’t really eat shortbread cookies all that often.  I realize that this is a big mistake.  They are crisp and yet melt in your mouth.  The lovely marriage of espresso and bittersweet chocolate.  You would think that this cookie, being chock full of chocolate-y bits, would be very sweet.  However, since I used bittersweet chocolate, it was just the right intensity of dark cocoa flavor.  🙂

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And did you know that this cookie is actually kinda fun to make.  But I suppose if you’re really anal about like having really straight lines.. this might be more fun?  Less fun?  After chilling the dough inside a gallon-sized ziploc bag, I used my cutting board to cut my cookies.  If you look closely, you can see the little rectangles I cut.  They were somewhat straight… I really don’t care that much, as you can see.  haha.

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They go quite well with coffee.  Or milk.  Or chocolate milk!  Yum.  Chocolate soy milkkkkk.  🙂

Okay, last but not least, I also made Honey Bee Cake.

Yes. I did make all three of these in the same week.  In 2 days to be exact.  Yes, I do have a life outside of baking.  No, I do not get enough sleep.  🙂

This pretty little cake was from the afore-posted about cake cookbook.  I love it!  I have already bookmarked three other cakes I want to make.  Maybe I shall try to make one every week!  hehe.  I do love cakes.

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See the super cute rubber spatula?  It was a gift from my coworker.  It pretty much describes my most favorite three things to do.  🙂  Melting butter is always a good sign.  As is including honey in baked goods.

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This is the resulting glaze comprised of honey, butter, and brown sugar.  Yes, this beauty will be drizzled all over the cake!

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You have to poke holes to help the honey glaze seep in.  Seep in.  SEEP! But no worries, we will cover up these unfortunate looking, but very necessarily, holes with…

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ALMONDS!  Toasted almonds.  And then drizzle even more glaze on top!  Bake a few more minutes for the just the right type of crunch…

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AMAZING!  I wish I had taken off the springform pan while taking this picture.  Then you could see just how beautiful this cake is.  Oh well.  Next time.  And I also wished I used MORE almonds.  The almond to cake ratio was not to my liking.  But since this cake was so cute and so delicious (my coworkers are also raving about this one!), I think I will end up using twice as many almonds.  Just to be safe.  🙂

Whew.  I am finally done!  This was a really long post.  Took a long time to write it.  Thanks again to the husband for the lovely pictures!  Enjoy! 🙂

Carrot (Cake) on a Stick?

I wasn’t a huge carrot cake fan growing up.  I can probably count on one hand (or more specifically three fingers) how many times I’ve eaten it.  I think it just weirded me out that a vegetable (though I do love carrots) was put into something decadent and fatty like a cake.  Or maybe it’s because it’s usually served with cream cheese (yuck) frosting… yeah.  That’s probably why I didn’t like it.

But after my friend Kerri, who is quite an avid baker herself, made some carrot cake (without cream cheese frosting, thank goodness!) I decided that it’s not that bad after all.  I think mainly because she had an awesome recipe with a secret ingredient!

Now this secret ingredient totally revolutionized carrot cake for me!  I had never thought the pairing of the carrots and this secret ingredient could result in such a yummy cake!   🙂    I found some recipes that called for a number of different things.  Some asked for raisins.  Some for walnuts.  Among a number of other things.  I decided to use Kerri’s recipe, which kept things simple.

I never realized how HARD it is to grate an entire pound of carrots!  Yikes.  My hands were cramping from gripping the carrots so tightly.  Yeah.  I’m a wuss like that.  😦

But the exciting part was adding in the secret ingredient which is… PINEAPPLES!  Crazy, right?  Yummy yummy pineapples!  It gives it a nice sweetness and tartness and moistness.  🙂

And I actually made this recipe twice, which is very rare for me.  (This means I really liked this recipe and you should REALLY try it sometime)   The first time I made cupcakes and the second time I made a really pretty bundt cake (but alas!  No pictures of that one.)

Ah.  So good. Especially when it’s warmed up a bit (with no cream cheese frosting)!  🙂

If you really want the recipe, then let me know!  I am more than willing to email it to you.  🙂

At the End of Every Rainbow…

is a pot of gold!  Okay.  Not really.  Maybe at the end of a DOUBLE rainbow.  ooo.  Twice the luck!

Though in all honesty, I know of something that is even luckier and better than a pot of gold.  🙂   Rainbow cake!  🙂  Let’s just say.. this was an amazing cake.  🙂

It’s such a beautiful and unassuming cake when you first look at it.  But oh how wonderful it is on the inside!

Isn’t the frosting so pretty?  It took so much work and sooooo many egg whites.  Hence all the extra egg yolks I had (which I used to make lemon curd).

Aren’t the colors wonderful?!  But seriously…so much food dye.  But I tell you, it was TOTALLY worth it.  Worth.  Every.  Drop.

Aren’t the colors so bright and vibrant?!  I couldn’t figure out how to make the purple brighter, but I was pretty satisfied overall with how the colors turned out.  So pretty! 🙂

Isn’t it so pretty?!  The layers were actually supposed to be fluffier… but I think I overbeat the egg whites.  😦  But at least the cake tasted delicious… mmm almond extract.  Yum yum!  🙂

Ah yes.  The beautiful finished product!  We all gasped when I cut it open! Isn’t it wondrous and so exciting?!  I do dare say that I may have outdone myself this time.  🙂  I think next time I may try to do it cupcake style or just make smaller cakes.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find one of these at the end of every rainy day?!  🙂

Red Velvet = Overrated.

Yes.  I dare to say that.  I really don’t see what the big deal is.  Really don’t.

I mean, people call it a chocolate cake, but I see it more as a white cake dyed red.  The amount of chocolate hardly justifies it being called a “chocolate cake”.

Anywho.. I figured that it’s about time I gave Red Velvet a shot.  Especially since I’ve been asked to make a semi-red velvet cake for a friend’s friend’s wedding (more details to come on that in the future!).

I did not realize how much red food dye goes into red velvet cake.  I suppose I should go for the au natural option of using beet juice, but it didn’t occur to me to try it until I dumped an entire bottle of red food dye into the batter.  Sick.

 

Doesn’t the red look SO scary?!  YIKES.  😦

But, I suppose the contrast of red against the white is visually appealing.   Cream cheese frosting, of course.

I think I need to try a different recipe.  I didn’t particularly like the taste.  Perhaps a recipe that requires more cocoa powder?  And less food dye.  Yuck.  Though, I was actually hoping for a brighter red.  In which case… calls for MORE food dye.  Oh, the dilemma.

But my verdict still stands.  Hate me all you want!  Red velvet = overrated.  🙂

Warm Winter Treats!

Despite the crazy weather I have managed to stay sane, keep dry, and not get into any driving accidents.

And because of the awful weather, we all deserve a pick-me-up of sorts, right?  Well, my idea of a pick-me-up is eating baked goods with a special “kick”. 🙂

Bourbon Snaps & Guinness Stout Gingerbread Cake, anyone?  🙂  So delicious!  These will keep anyone warm during the cold winter season. hehe.

It tastes like bourbon, molasses and butter. hehe. 🙂

But oh man.  The Guiness Stout Gingerbread Cake was amazing! It was moist and gingery and delicious!

Delicious! 🙂  And I’m actually going to make Banana Bourbon Bread Pudding tonight… hehe.

I am STILL so many posts behind.  Rawr.  You’d think that I would be caught up (being that I was on vacation and all), but yes.  I shall try to post them up by next week!

I think everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions should include at least one that involves baking.  Whether baking for the first time, baking more, baking less (for me..), baking for others.  The choices are endless!

Happy New Year everyone!

Flavors of Fall are My Fave!

There’s nothing I love more than the flavors of fall.

Okay fine.  I can probably name a bunch of things, but nothing beats the beautiful aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  Who wouldn’t want to breathe that in all day? 🙂  Especially on a cold night. hehe.

So in celebration of fall (FINALLY!), I am going through a fall spices craze.

Moist and Majestic Honey Cake and Ginger Persimmon Bread.

Don’t they look amazing?  They taste wonderful too. 🙂  They remind me of Starbucks’ baked goods.. but 10 times better! (Not that I’m biased or anything. 🙂 )

I highly recommend you folks to try one of these recipes out.  The Honey Cake is wonderful warmed up with some vanilla ice cream (or so says my roommates) and the Ginger Persimmon Cake would be just right with a hot cup of coffee! 🙂

And these happen to also come from my two most favorite food bloggers.  You just can’t go wrong with SmittenKitchen or JoytheBaker! 🙂 Look them up!  It’ll just make you want to bake alllll day!

Oh. And I plan on going on a pumpkin craze too… just you wait!