Mango Almond Chiffon Cake

When I moved back to Minnesota, one of the things that I was dreading most was it long, long, long and COLD, COLD, COLD winters. I’m not sure how to articulate to you just how cold -30 Fahrenheit feels like, but maybe the best way to describe it would be to confess that I wore two pairs of pants, a long-sleeve, a sweatshirt and a vest, plus fuzzy socks — indoors (yep.).

But, you know, I am back, and for the most part, thrilled to be close to my family, literally down the street from some of my friends, and happily employed. Even though I’ve lived in Minnesota for the majority of my life, the transition back from New York hasn’t been easy. It’s sometimes a little lonely to look out the window and not see a single soul, and can we talk about how I’m pretty sure I forgot how to drive, period. Learning to get back on the road again when I’ve always been an anxious driver has definitely been a challenge. For now, I’m taking it slow and counting driving safely to my local Trader Joe’s a win.

One of the things that I have forgotten about Minnesota (and leaves me breathless every time), are the beautiful fall colors. The swirling leaves of red, pink, orange, gold and yellow surrounded by pockets of green are for me, one of the best parts of fall and best parts of living in Minnesota. The golden-y hue of fall color is what inspired this Almond Mango Chiffon Cake. What is chiffon cake you ask? Well, it’s probably the lightest, fluffiest cake you’ll ever taste and it’s got nothing but eggs helping it rise. In my recipe, there’s a slight hint of almond, and a fruity aftertaste. Basically, fall and summer all in one.

I like to make them in 6 oversized muffin tins, but there’s nothing stopping you from turning this into an 8″ or 9″ cake either. In fact, there’s definitely nothing stopping you from making this cake and a cream cheese frosting or whipped cream topping to finish it off. The best part of this cake is that it’s dairy-free and good for breakfast, dessert or a snack.

Mango Almond Chiffon Cake (adapted from Epicurious) | Makes 6-8 slices (depending on how you cut)

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried mango slices
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cold water mixed with 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated white sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup cake flour*

*If you don’t have cake flour, you can always make your own using all-purpose flour and cornstarch, potato starch or tapioca starch. Just measure out a cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and add in 2 tablespoons of your starch.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350(F) and line either cake tin or muffin tin with parchment paper.
  2. Combine honey water and chopped mango slices – let soak to re-hydrate the dried mango.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine egg whites and salt. Using a electric mixer, start on the lowest speed, beating for a minute on each speed until you have reached medium speed. Then, gradually add in 1/4 cup sugar and continue mixing. Once sugar has been fully added, beat on high speed until you get peaks that just barely hold their shape (not stiff, but not soft either).
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine your egg yolks and remaining sugar (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp). Using an electric mixer, beat until mixture turns fluffy and pale yellow.
  5. With the electric mixer on medium speed, gradually pour olive oil into the egg yolk mixture and mix until incorporated thoroughly.
  6. Then mix in honey water+mangoes and almond extract.
  7. Sift cake flour into egg yolk mixture (the sifting is crucial! this will make sure your cake isn’t dense), and combine using a wooden spoon (not electric mixer).
  8. Fold whipped egg whites into egg yolk mixture in three batches, make sure to using a folding motion so you don’t deflate the egg whites.
  9. Pour mixture into prepped muffin tins or cake tin. Sprinkle top with sugar.
  10. Place into oven and bake for 25 (if using muffin tins) or 45 minutes (if using cake tins), until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Enjoy!

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

 PSA: THESE COOKIES CAN BE MADE IN ONE BOWL/POT/CONTAINER!


I will confess, these cookies were made quite awhile ago, but I simply haven’t had the time or energy to write up a post.  Last time, after a week of exams, papers and group projects, I collapsed on to the bed in a tired heap and asked myself what I was even doing here in New York, what I was doing at Columbia and if I even knew who I was anymore.  Of course, it didn’t help that daylight savings time means that by the time I come home from school, it’s completely dark out and it truly feels like I’m living in a cave. Not to be creating a pity-party, but I guess my point was that, I needed a break.  I needed time to take care of myself, to exercise, to spend time with friends, to bake, to BLOG! And it’s so easy to forget that humans need self-care time too.  We’re so easily caught up in taking care of other people, making sure our lives are in order, that sometimes, we can’t even remember the last time we were hungry for a homemade meal. 


SO, thank goodness for Election Day, giving me the time to take a break from school and reflect on life and rebuild my confidence in the decisions that I’ve made in life. And I hope that wherever you are, whoever you are, you make sure to create some space and time in your life to take care of yourself too.  Whether it’s the early morning cup of coffee, or the late night t.v. show, make sure you’re taking care of your mental health.  Which by the way…you could start by…making these cookies!


Whenever October and November roll around, I’m always addicted to the idea of cranberries, I have no idea why, but it’s probably got to do with Turkey Day. Anyways, these are inspired by Thanksgiving and everything Thanksgiving represents (besides the fact that it eventually lead to the conflict between Native Americans and Immigrants), BUT other than that, warmth, sweetness, a deep gratitude for life. 


Also, they use brown butter, which in my opinion, makes for an amazing flavor combination with the white chocolate and cranberries.  The white chocolate is just sweet and creamy enough to offset the tartness of the cranberries and the brown butter?? (Not a huge fan of white chocolate? Feel free to sub in dark chocolate as well!)That’s the real showstopper, tying the two flavors together and creating a deep, rich, caramel-y undertone. OH, and that pinch of cinnamon? Don’t leave it out, it seriously makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in creating a cookie that you just want to continue eating forever. 


Brown butter is great, it creates cookies that have chewy centers and crispy edges.  I will forewarn you though, that these cookies (as you can see) are more on the thinner side.  That doesn’t mean that they’re not soft, or chewy, but it does mean that they’re lite-versions (aka you can eat way more without feeling guilty). If you’re not quite sure how to brown butter properly, I have a step by step guide right here. 

CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES | A dozen large cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter browned and cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • Sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium-large pot (needs to be big enough to hold all the ingredients), melt and brown the butter.  Allow it to cool.
  2. Once cooled, add sugar, vanilla, and egg into mixture and whisk together until smooth
  3. Then add in flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  4. Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour and up to 3 days (they only get better with time!)
  6. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  7. Let dough come back to room temperature (otherwise it will be SUPER hard to roll into balls)
  8. Roll into golf ball sized balls and place on lined baking sheet
  9. Sprinkle on a little bit of salt on top of each cookie before baking
  10. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn a golden brown
  11. Cookies will stay fresh for up to a week in an airtight container

Enjoy!

Authentic Italian Tiramisu

 Can we talk about tiramisu? So I’ve never actually been to Italy, but I love tiramisu.  It was basically love at first bite.  The coffee-soaked sponge, the Marsala spiked cream, mmmmm I could eat it for days. The thing about tiramisu is that finding a good tiramisu place is SO hard! Some places are wayyyy too alcoholy, some have way too much cream and not enough sponge, and I was basically at my wits end, so I decided to come up with my own recipe.


Most tiramisu recipes use lady fingers, which I happen to think are way too crumbly and dry, even when soaked with coffee. Even though they are easy to buy in bulk, I promise you that making this sponge is almost just as quick and painless. This sponge is so light and airy and elevates this tiramisu up to the next level. There’s no separating of egg yolks and egg whites or having to fold beaten egg whites into the egg yolks, it’s really as simple as it gets!


As for the creamy filling, I’m not going to lie, as a microbiology major, the thought of food poisoning freaks me out.  Tiramisu is traditionally made with raw egg yolks, but instead of going that route, the egg yolks are slowly cooked over a simmering water bath which still results in a rich and creamy consistency. My favorite part though?? Probably the mix of Marsala and mascarpone. I know, I know, mascarpone costs like a million dollars for a tiny tub, but it’s so darn good!!!! If you’re going to make this recipe, please, please don’t try and substitute the mascarpone with cream cheese, it just won’t be the same. I promise you, splurge on mascarpone just this once, and you won’t be disappointed.


In other news, I HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE IN NEW YORK!!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness, these past few weeks were filled with SO MUCH STRESS and chaos. The housing market here is insane, houses come on and off the market in as little as 12 hours. I toured 5 apartments one day, and by the end of the day, 4 of them were already taken. Talk about feeling defeated.  I seriously felt like I needed a whole pan of this tiramisu and probably the rest of that Marsala just to make me feel human again. Anyway, this new place is just lovely, it’s got beautiful bay windows and a brand new kitchen (my own criteria really for a place was for it have an oven….go figure) that’s just a couple stops away from lots of restaurants and stores.  Now let’s just hope that we can get all my furniture through the door!


If there’s anything that I’ve learned in my past 22 years is that life is truly too short to not live it to the fullest and celebrate all the wonderful things that have happened to you. So I’ll make some tiramisu here in my grandma’s closet sized kitchen, and you make some in yours, okay? Let’s all celebrate life with some tiramisu 🙂

NOTE: for the sponge, I have included measurements in both weight and volume.  However, I would strongly recommend using the weighted measurements as that results in a more accurate and delicious sponge as measurements by volume can sometimes differ slightly person to person depending on how the ingredients are measured.

 AUTHENTIC ITALIAN TIRAMISU | Makes one 9×13 inch pan
(cream adapted from Anna Maria Vipoli)

INGREDIENTS
for sponge

  • 6 eggs
  • 180 grams or 1 1/2 cup cake flour*
  • 160 grams or 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 25×15 inch sheet pan (also known as a 3/4 sheet pan) lined with parchment paper

*To make cake flour from AP flour, simply replace 2tbsp of AP flour with 2 tbsp of cornstarch for every cup of AP flour

for cream

  • 4 egg yolks (make my pavlova recipe if you don’t know what to do with extra egg whites!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 lb mascarpone
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups strong coffee + 2 tsp sugar for dipping sponge
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder for dusting

DIRECTIONS

for sponge

  1. Preheat oven to 340 (F).
  2. Crack eggs into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and slowly begin to beat eggs. Beat eggs for 2 minutes on low speed and then 2 minutes on medium speed before gradually adding in the sugar.  Once sugar has all been added, increase mixer to the highest speed setting.  Beat eggs until mixture has turned a pale yellow color and has more than doubled in size (~10 min).
  3. Add flour to egg mixture in three batches, taking care to GENTLY fold the flour into the egg mixture.  When folding make sure to use a spatula and move spatula in large circular movements so you do not deflate the air that has been beaten into the eggs.
  4. Once flour has been incorporated, pour batter onto sheet pan and smooth out.
  5. Bake cake for 10-15 minutes or until sponge springs back when touched.
  6. Once sponge has cooled, cut sponge into thin rectangles ~ 1×4.5 inches.

for cream

  1. In a heat proof bowl or top bowl of double-boiler, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes pale yellow and creamy. Then add in Marsala wine.
  2. Place mixture over a simmering pot of water and cook until cream has thickened, whisking constantly.  The cream will be ready to remove from heat just before it boils (small little bubbles will appear on the surface of the cream when you stop mixing it for a moment).
  3. Add mascarpone into a large mixing bowl and beat with spatula until is it a smooth and soft consistency.  Then add in cooked cream and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Place mixture into fridge to chill while you beat the whipped cream.
  5. Using stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat whipped cream until it is just beginning to form soft peaks. Do not over whip!
  6. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture and then place back in fridge to chill.

to assemble

  1. Gather together ingredients: sponge cake rectangles, mascarpone mixture, 9x13in pan and cooled coffee.
  2. Quickly dip both sides of sponge into coffee mixture and line pan to form bottom layer. 
  3. Pour half of mascarpone mixture over sponge layer and smooth out.
  4. Repeat with remaining sponge rectangles to form second layer.
  5. Pour remaining mascarpone mixture on top of second layer and smooth out.
  6. Dust top of mascarpone mixture with cocoa powder.
  7. Refrigerate until firm (~ 2 hours).
  8. Tiramisu will stay fresh up to 3 days in the fridge.

Enjoy!!!

Raspberry Frangipane Buttermilk Cake

 A layer of juicy and sweet raspberries, a layer of almond-y frangipane filling and a layer of oh-so-moist and light buttermilk cake. It is basically the best one-bowl cake (aka lazy summer dessert) that you could make with fresh berries that is still so elegant.  If you look closely, you can see that the layers separate into 3 different layers and it makes it extremely beautiful when you slice into the cake. The thing that makes this cake is that it truly highlights the flavor of the raspberries. During the summer, I try and use fresh raspberries since they are in season, and it really brings the flavor to a whole other level, but using frozen raspberries works just as well!


Because you are baking this cake upside down and then flipping it right side up, the raspberries sort of become jammy and acts like a glaze for the cake, meaning that it does not need anything to top it! No frosting, no icing, no glaze, not even whipped cream.  It’s actually perfect just by itself, which I love since I’m not a huge fan of heavy frostings.  That being said, I think that this cake would also be delicious with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and sprinkle of berries.


Not going to lie, the idea for this cake actually came from a dream.  I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea for this cake in my mind and frantically scrambled around in the dark looking for a piece of paper and pen to jot down the idea before it slipped from my mind. 


So the bf works at a clinic in St. Paul and since I’ve been shoveling all my excess baked goods at the nurses and doctors that work at the clinic, I figured I should probably bake one last cake to say thank you to them for putting up with all my testing of baked goods before moving to New York City for graduate school.  Since I’ve been so busy packing, I wanted to make a cake that was a breeze to make but also looked stunning. GUYS, this is IT! I swear, it took me like 15 minutes to put everything together and then I threw it into the oven and got back to attempting to shovel my 20 pairs of shoes into one suitcase (it’s harder than it looks…). When the timer buzzed, all it took was a nice cake stand and a little cooling time to put it all together.  Did I mention that every bite feels like you’re eating summer?

Fun food science facts: The frangipane helps keep this cake extremely moist because it is mainly ground almonds which do an awesome job retaining moisture and keeps the cake from getting to dry.  Ever make volcanic eruptions in elementary school? Believe it or not, that’s what makes your cake light and fluffy! The acid in this case is the buttermilk, and just like in elementary school, the base is the baking soda. These two ingredients in the cake batter help produce lots of air to keep the cake from getting too dense.

RASPBERRY FRANGIPANE BUTTERMILK CAKE | Makes 10-12 slices
INGREDIENTS


for frangipane

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for cake

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • one 8″ cake pan

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  2. For the frangipane, mix together almond flour, all-purpose flour and sugar in a small bowl. Then work softened butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles a soft dough.
  3. Add in eggs and vanilla extract before mixing well.  Set mixture aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together.
  5. Add in egg and whisk to combine.
  6. Add in buttermilk and vanilla extract and mix well.
  7. Then add in flour, salt and baking soda and whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients until well-incorporated.
  8. Grease and line cake pan bottom and edges in parchment paper for easy removal.
  9. To assemble the cake, spread raspberries evenly on bottom of cake pan. Pour frangipane over berries and spread  it evenly. Finally pour cake mixture on top and smooth top.
  10. Bake cake for 70-75 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  If cake top looks like it’s browning too quickly, cover in aluminum foil.
  11. Let cake cool for 15 minutes before inverting cake and cooling fully.

Enjoy!

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche

 Flaky buttery crust, creamy and eggy filling, it can only be a quiche. To be honest, I really love quiche, it can basically be customized depending on your mood and the custard that forms from milk and eggs cooking is just heavenly.  I’m mostly given up on eating dairy when I can cause I’m lactose intolerant, but quiche is one of those things that I haven’t been able to let go.


This recipe has been in use since my high school days of helping my mom host brunch parties, and believe it or not, it can be customized to be completely dairy-free.  Hooray!! Yes, I’ll admit that it’s not as good without the buttery crust, but heck, the quiche filling is still as creamy and glorious when made with soy milk or almond milk…just make sure it’s unsweetened and unflavored…trust me, vanilla flavored quiche is just NOT good.
I would not try and tweak the egg to liquid ratio – I’ve tested so many ratios and found that 1 egg to 1/2 cup of liquid produces the best results. With this ratio, the egg proteins hold just the right amount of liquid and you get a really creamy and soft, but not liquid-y custard.


You can make the quiche in either a sloped pie pan or a straight-edged cake pan, really it doesn’t matter! If you want to be fancy, traditional quiches were made with straight-edged pans, but I always find that the crust tends to shrink away from the edges while the sloped-edges of the pie pan holds the crust in place better. It really is up to personal preference though!
This recipe calls for spinach and mushroom, but you can fill it with anything you want: peppers, bacon pieces, cheese, the list goes on and on. With vegetables that exude a lot of liquid, just make sure to cook most of that liquid out first. I made this quiche for my food science lab friends and if it means anything, it was gone in less than 10 minutes. The most important thing is to make sure you chill the crust so that the gluten proteins have time to relax and you don’t end up with a tough and doughy crust. Other than that, it really is a fool-proof recipe! Seriously, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

SPINACH & MUSHROOM QUICHE | Makes 8-10 slices
INGREDIENTS


for filling

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms – sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk/cream (any type works, the lower the fat content, the less creamy, soy or almond milk works too! Just make sure it’s unsweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

for crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted COLD butter – in 1/2″ cubes
  • 3-5 tbsp cold water

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium skillet, cook mushrooms on high heat until golden brown.  Salt and pepper to taste then remove from pan.  Cook spinach until wilted on medium heat.  Salt and pepper to taste as well. Set mushrooms and spinach mixture aside.
  2. In a separate large bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk together until well combined.
  3. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, baking powder and butter.  Pulse until butter is in small pea-sized pieces.  Then, with food processor running, drizzle in water a tablespoon at a time until a dough ball forms.  Pat dough into a flat circle to make rolling out the dough easier and refrigerate until firm (~1hr).***If using hands, cut cold butter into flour until mixture resembles fine sand.  Then add water a tablespoon at a time until mixture forms dough.  DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 (F).
  5. Once dough is firm , roll out into circular crust about 1/8in thick and 12-14 inches depending on size of your pan. Place crust over pan and crimp edges to form a raised crust.
  6. Spread mushroom and spinach mixture evenly on top of crust before pouring egg mixture on top (make sure to whisk again before mixing to make sure salt and pepper is evenly distributed).
  7. Bake quiche at 425 (F) for 10 minutes to prevent crust from getting soggy before reducing temperature down to 350 (F) and baking an additional 15-20 minutes until quiche is set.  Quiche will be done when it wobbles ever so slightly when shaken gently.
  8. Cool before slicing. Quiche will stay fresh up to 2 days in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Old-fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits

As a kid, did you ever pretend rocks were “cookies” or “cakes” while playing outside in the yard? I remember that my sisters and I would always throw extravagant tea parties full of “mud pies” and “rock cakes”, and then come home covered in mud and pebbles, much to my mom’s annoyance (sorry, mom!). Well, I’m not sure if it was because I missed these tea parties so much, or if I was just a terrible baker, but for the longest time, my biscuits were truly as hard and tough as rocks.
I recently tried my hand out at making biscuits again because I’ve had a hankering for some biscuits and homemade jam (more to come on the jam!). After scouring the internet, I came across Bon Appetit’s buttermilk biscuits but then realized that I didn’t actually own a food processor… which you know, like any good cook does, I proceeded anyway. Turning this food processor needing recipe into one that doesn’t has been quite the adventure (picture 3 butter knives in each hand whirring in circles in an attempt to simulate a food processor, among other hilarious ideas).
I promise you the final recipe does not require 6 arms and it definitely can be done in under 20 minutes.  Pair them with jam, butter, honey, gravy or honestly just plain, everyone will be happy. Trust me, give them a go!

IMPORTANT: Do NOT over work this dough, otherwise biscuits will turn out like my childhood rock cakes. Also, frozen butter is MUCH easier to grate and will not melt into the dough while you are working with it. Cold butter is essential for creating pockets of steam while baking ==> soft and fluffy biscuits.

OLD-FASHIONED BUTTERMILK BISCUITS | Modified from Bon Appetit | Makes 12
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter – frozen
  • 1 tbsp butter – melted (for brushing on top of biscuits)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Using grater, grate 2 sticks of butter on the coarser setting. If you don’t have a grater, simply take a knife and chop the butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Put butter back into freezer if it is starting to melt.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and baking soda. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. Place grated butter into flour mixture. With hands, gently work butter pieces into flour until mixture looks like coarse sand and the largest pieces of butter are smaller than peas.
  4. Make a well in the mixture and pour buttermilk in well. Use spatula to incorporate dry and wet ingredients until a shaggy dough as formed.
  5. Turn dough onto floured surface and pat into a 1″- thick square. Using a knife or bench scraper, slice dough into four equal pieces and place on top of each other (this creates more flaky layers!). Gently press to flatten the layers.
  6. Roll dough into a rectangle 1″-thick. Take knife or bench scraper and cut into 12 equal slices – there should be no leftover scraps.
  7. Place dough pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet and place in freezer for 15 min.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 (F).
  9. Right before baking the biscuits, liberally brush the top of each biscuit with melted butter
  10. Place biscuits in oven and reduce heat to 400 (F). Bake for 20-25 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.

Enjoy!