Date-Chocolate Cake

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Sing, Muse, of the best reason I’ve found so far to get engaged!

Yes, I’m looking forward to the wedding itself (which is, er, next week, somehow), and to a lifetime of happiness with the man I love, and yada yada yada. But seriously, folks: can we talk about my beautiful new Kitchenaid, a gorgeous piece of equipment that I fall a little more deeply for with every passing day? Never before in my adult life have I had the proper tool to whip cream (see exhibits A and B), or egg whites, or create a perfectly smooth cheesecake filling, or even cream butter, really, without giving my biceps a major workout. This baby will even knead bread for you. Knead! Bread! For! You! When I’m fully recovered from looming wedding self-consciousness—which, in my case, has largely taken the form of “hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have an enormous sandwich for lunch every day, followed by a brownie”—oh, the things we will make together. Continue reading

Cheesecake

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Yes, you’re not seeing things: this is a cheesecake being sliced on top of a paper bag, which is itself perched on top of a blanket, on top of some grass, on top of some dirt, and so on. Because when you think “late-summer afternoon picnic,” you obviously think “dairy-based dessert that must be refrigerated for hours before being served,” right?

You know what, though? Having brought a cheesecake to a picnic (my version of bringing a gun to a knife-fight, I guess), I can say now that the decision really wasn’t that weird—eating it at the park was sort of like eating ice cream, but, you know, ice cream made of cream cheese and bordered by crumbled graham crackers that can only be consumed using a fork or your own dirty fingers. Continue reading

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Is anything else as gloriously retro as a pineapple upside-down cake? The very name invokes visions of Betty Draper in an A-line dress, covered by a tiny, impractical apron, proudly brandishing a golden-brown, can-born concoction that she didn’t actually bake herself. (Justice for Carla!)

Even the origins of this cake are kitschy: apparently, it entered the American lexicon only after some genius at Dole figured out a mechanical way to slice the tropical fruit into perfect, even rings. Replace the humble apples of a French tarte tartin with the processed, sugar-soaked slices sold by a capitalist supercorporation, and boom: pineapple upside-down cake. Hell, it may be even more American than apple pie. Continue reading

Cooky Shortcake

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Almost exactly one year ago, I put forth this blog’s very first recipe. It was old-fashioned; it was fairly simple; it was, by all accounts, not much to look at.  But it was also satisfying in a homey, comfort-food sort of way, the way only something that’s homemade (and looks it) could be.

Which brings me to our 52nd (!) recipe: a dessert presented in Nonnie’s cookbook as “Cooky Shortcake,” a name that reveals just about nothing. Is it a cookie? Is it a cake? Is it short? The answers, in order: no, yes, and yes. Continue reading

Blueberry Mold

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And so it’s come to this: And Such Small Portions’s very first jello mold.

Well, sort of. When I picture a jello mold, I see this: a shapely mound that stands independent and proud on its very own platter, shiny and semi-transluscent and filled with some sort of canned fruit, quivering softly in the light filtering through a brown-and-yellow glass lampshade. I don’t picture a tupperware filled with blue gloop, gloop that’s been folded together with an heroic amount of whipped cream to create something that’s sort of like blueberry yogurt, but richer and less… good. Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Cake (again)

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I was raised to prize homemade desserts over the grocery store kind, to always choose a slightly misshapen, even over-or-underdone chocolate cookie over a perfectly round, pale yellow circle with impeccably spread, machine-made icing. (Unless we’re talking about an Eat’n Park smiley face cookie, in which case all bets are off.) Desserts made from scratch are just better, my mom always said, and I’m sure she got that from Nonnie before her—they’re less sweet, more complex, filled with the rich, satisfying taste of real butter.

I still believe all this to be true. However: For those awful moments when, whoops, you’re feeling snobby and superior but don’t actually have time to whip up an entire cake from scratch (perish the thought!), there is in fact a decent halfway solution. Continue reading

French Toast, 3 Ways

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[This week’s post is brought to you by Leslie Mann in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.]

What do you do when you’ve got a week off between jobs, a battered old cookbook that holds three separate recipes for French toast, a schedule that’s completely sapped your ability to sleep in, and a type-A personality that makes you slightly nuts because, again, you’ve got a week off between jobs?

You make French toast, my friends. You make it aaaallll the different ways. Continue reading

Hot Fudge and Strawberry Sauce

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I dare you to name a Passover dessert that isn’t terrible. Cakes made with matzo meal? They’re inevitably dry and powdery. Macaroons from a canister? Grossly sticky and sickeningly sweet. Those disgusting jellied candy fruit slicesGet the hell away from me and never return.

Faced with options like these, you might as well stick to the sad bowl of grapes and sliced cantaloupe lurking at the end of your seder’s buffet.

There is, of course, a solution to the terrible Passover dessert conundrum. Continue reading