Like fruitcake and the word “moist,” eggnog is notorious for being disliked—a cultural meme that must predate the internet, though it’s also the sort of unchallengingly bold opinion that’s tailor-made for the take economy. But cliched as all those anti-eggnog rebukes may be, I get where they’re coming from. Alcoholic milk? Spiked with raw eggs? And we’ve decided to call it nog? Go directly to jail; do not pass Go, do not collect 200 eggs.
At least, that’s what I thought before I tasted the stuff for myself. Continue reading →
There’s something about chocolate pie that seems sort of wrong, right? Not because it photographs blurry—that’s just science!—or because its appealing exterior could be hiding an unwelcome surprise, but because it’s too… showy, somehow.
Pie is barely sweetened peak-season fruit and soft, warming spices; pie is rich custard that refuses to hold its shape when sliced and placed onto a plate; pie is labor-intensive but somehow unfussy. Pie is humble. Pie is not a moist, dense, almost criminally rich flourless chocolate cake baked in a pie dish, a dessert that earns its name only because it happens to be encased in a buttery, fully unnecessary crust.
Yet here we are. Continue reading →
I was raised on Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake—that is, a frozen cake base covered in smoothed-out ice cream, then decorated with completely extraneous, rock-hard icing. I thought it was delicious, even if it always left a trail of broken plastic utensils in its wake.
It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I learned people here have an entirely different conception of ice cream cake—that it’s not necessarily cake topped with a layer of ice cream, as the name would imply, but simply layers of ice cream in the shape of a cake (or maybe in the shape of a whale), separated by nubby little crunchy thingies that resembled nothing more than chocolate-flavored dirt. But like, good dirt. Continue reading →
The last time I attempted a cheesecake recipe, I served it on a torn-up paper bag, the height of rustic-eco-friendly-chic sophistication. (That, or we were at a picnic and forgot to bring plates.) My second cheesecake-like concoction was served in much more cheesecake-friendly environs—indoors, on a table, bathed in soft mood lighting and the wafting strains of an excellent playlist. Yet I still managed not to take a single decent picture, because even in my third (!) year of food blogging, I have yet to figure out how to make brown, crumbly things look tasty in photographs.
All of which is to say this: both the title and look of this dessert are unappetizing. “Chocolate cheese pie” sounds like a mistake, or a gross idiom I’d rather not try to define; when sliced, the pie looks not like this, but like a particularly heinous Pinterest fail. Continue reading →
I don’t have an emotional attachment to sufganiyot, the Israeli jelly doughnuts that are traditionally served on Hanukkah. Maybe that’s why I’ve never attempted to make jelly doughnuts myself—or maybe it’s more that I’ve always had a fear of frying. Remember, the miracle of Hanukkah is all about burning-hot fuel—and I’m accident-prone enough even when there’s no 370-degree oil in the vicinity.
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There will come a time, not too many months from now, when I will be convinced I’d rather voluntarily watch football than eat another apple. (As I write this, the man I married is watching one football game on mute while listening to the play-by-play of a different football game. No jury would convict me, right?) Currently, farmer’s markets are bursting with end-of-summer produce as well as the first Honeycrisps and Macouns of the season. But before long, the tomatoes and eggplants and berries will fade into memory, and the only decent produce around will be the sort of stuff I associate with my shtetl-bound ancestors: potatoes, cabbage, and, yes, pile upon pile of apples, the only fruit around these parts that makes it through the winter intact.
So yeah, I know I’m going to get sick of apples at some point. But my friends, that day is not yet here. Continue reading →
Pro tip: don’t declare that your blogging delinquent streak is over right before you move. Sure, we only had to lug all of our possessions about two miles, from one segment of stroller Brooklyn to another—but the ensuing weeks have been so filled with unpacking, organizing, and arguments regarding things I never in my life thought I’d even have an opinion about (paint colors! Lighting fixtures! Are you miming shooting yourself in the head with your index finger yet?) that I’ve hardly had any time to cook, let alone write about that cooking on the internet.
Before we left the old place, though, I did mark the occasion—and a certain long-suffering spouse’s birthday—by baking something special. Did all of our wine glasses make it to the new apartment unscathed? No. Did this pie? Yes.
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This spring, I became the last person in America—the last person in the world?—to fall head over heels for The Great British Bake-Off, an utterly charming reality competition about very nice people crafting elaborate pastries in the English countryside. Whoever wins gets nothing more than a quiet sense of self-satisfaction and a tacky glass cake stand. It’s comforting; it’s soothing; it’s an endless font of baking jargon I’d never heard before, and binging it over the course of a few months has given my husband and me an insatiable need to bring up frangipane and choux pastry and Victoria sponges (to say nothing of joconde or genoise!!) as frequently as possible. But only when we’re alone, I promise.
I won’t say that the series inspired this cake, although there is, apparently, a recipe for devil’s food cake in a cookbook associated with the show. But I will say that our binge gave me a renewed appreciation for idiosyncratic pastries with silly names, the Bakewell tarts and charlotte russes and baba au rhums of the world. Continue reading →
Could this possibly be the ugliest cake I have ever made? Continue reading →
TGIPS. (Thank God It’s Pie Season, obviously.)
I mean, sure, it’s not the season for this kind of pie. This one isn’t crafted from seasonal, indigenously American ingredients, humble orange things that grow on the ground or just below its surface. No, it’s really more of a cold-weather pie—a blind-baked crust topped with tropical fruit and a fridge-chilled filling, albeit one that doesn’t necessarily scream “swimsuit weather.” Hell, eat enough of this gut bomb, and you might just never wear a swimsuit again. (Unrelated: ask me about my post-honeymoon, post-election-depression bloat!) Continue reading →