Apple Cider & Salted Caramel
Crème Fraîche Coffee Cake

Apple Cider & Salted Caramel Crème Fraîche Coffee Cake

So I know Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and pretty much all we can think about is what we forgot to get from the store. (I forgot chestnuts. Ugh.)

But look on the bright side: If, like me, you have to brave the madness that is last-minute Thanksgiving shopping, you can at least grab all the ingredients to make this coffee cake too. I know it might not really have a place amidst all the pies, but it deserves a place somewhere, because it’s ridiculously delicious. Whip it up on Friday morning so your family doesn’t eat turkey sandwiches for breakfast. Or file it away for a quieter occasion, when you can eat half of it with no relatives around to judge you. Just promise me that, at some point in time, you will make and eat this. Please.

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Angel Food Cupcakes with
Coconut-Lemongrass Whipped Cream

Angel Food Cupcakes with Coconut-Lemongrass Whipped Cream

Early morning bike rides are probably one of my favorite things. Around 7:00am, the streets begin to fill with commuters, joggers, dog walkers, and the like. But at 6:00am, they are so quiet. Lights at usually busy intersections blink red and yellow. People on the sidewalk nod and say hello. I coast through stop signs, slow down to ogle gardens, and try to get the attention of the occasional cat wandering the streets. (NB: My research indicates that cats do not respond well to strangers on bicycles.)

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Chocolate-Raspberry Icebox Cake

If there is any dessert worthy of the description “hot mess,” it’s the icebox cake. It is really difficult to go wrong with this cake. If you can pile whipped cream on top of cookie wafers until you’ve made a mountain of crazy, then stick the whole thing in the fridge, go to bed, and wake up the next day, then you can make an icebox cake. You leave all the work to time and your fridge, where crispy wafers become cream-softened cakey layers while you sleep. Having said that, there are a couple of ways things can go wrong, especially if you’re me, and you decide to take the easiest thing in the world and complicate it. Allow me to explain……

One morning a couple weeks back, as I was lying in bed trying to muster the courage to fling off the covers and sprint downstairs to the warmth of the wood stove, I started thinking about Valentine’s Day posts. Last year, there were savory things. So this year, I wanted to do something sweet. And simple. No candy making or chocolate tempering or anything fussy. Just some chocolate. And something pink. Then my mind wandered to ombre things. (Is the ombre craze over? I feel like I might be a little late to the party on this one, but I love it and I don’t care!) And then I had a vision of a towering pink ombre icebox cake. Which then quickly morphed into lots of tiny little pink ombre icebox cupcakes. And then it changed again, just slightly, to larger cupcakes. Mini cakes. Whoopie-pie sized. YES. I was psyched.

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Candy Corn Cake: Failure

Have you ever had an idea that you wanted to work so badly, you managed to drown out all the very logical reasons it might go wrong with one single thought: Man, this is going to be awesome! Allow me to introduce you to my idea: Candy Corn Cake.

Me and Candy Corn Cake, we were destined for greatness. It all started with a spree of cake successes. An epic rainbow cake. A festive German flag cake. A 6-layer pumpkin and chocolate cake with chai buttercream frosting (no picture available, due to me making it for my own birthday party, then dropping the majority of it on the floor after a few too many vodka tonics). I got greedy. I needed more pretty cakes! With Halloween just around the corner, candy corn was the perfect choice. I’d get me a bundt pan, divide a white cake batter into thirds, dye one yellow and one orange, then layer them all—white, orange, yellow—in the pan. For the first two layers, I’d stick the pan in the freezer, just to get the batter to stiffen up enough to keep the following layer from displacing it. Then I’d bring it back to room temperature, pop it in the oven, and an hour later, out would come Candy Corn Cake! Maybe I’d even go all out and cut it down into a more triangular shape before frosting. And then . . . then . . . I’d reveal Candy Corn Cake to the world! Fellow cake-lovers would marvel. Babies would squeal with delight. Even the grumpiest of old men would stoically nod and declare, “now that’s a cake.”

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German Flag Layer Cake

I spent two weeks in Germany just over a decade ago. (Let’s pause for a moment so I can get over how old that sentence made me feel.) I had been to Europe the year before with a group from my high school, which was kind of a blur—an awesome, fun-filled blur—due to the amount of standard sight-seeing we had to cram in after some travel delays (which involved a night spent in Newark airport, a missed connection in London, and a severely jet-lagged me browsing through duty free shops like a zombie). To this day, the best $2 I have ever spent was on a shower in the London-Heathrow airport. But traveling to Germany on my own to visit friends who lived there was a completely different, uninsulated experience that allowed me to take in much more of what was going on around me. Why is all of this water fizzy? What is this delicious chocolate spread you eat for breakfast? How can something called “grey bread” be so good? Why does this beer go down like water? To this day, it baffles me when someone gives a hefeweizen the “yick” face and says it tastes like bananas. Whatever, man, more banana beer for me.

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