Ellen's blog

Opera Cake

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Because I am a Type A personality and have a strong desire to make things precise, this cake spoke right to my heart. Swee assures us that "it's not too difficult to make an Opera; however, it's difficult to get all the layers the same consistent height." She further explains that this cake "needs to be only 4cm tall." 6 layers, perfectly measured. Be still my heart.

BUT, even if you're not a Type A, you can still enjoy this flavor-packed dessert: almond sponge cake, coffee syrup, dark chocolate ganache. Absolutely amazing.

Fresh Orange Cake

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We're huge fans of citrus-flavored cakes, and this recipe was too good to pass up. It "uses orange zest and fresh orange juice and is topped with a smooth chocolate glaze." The orange flavor is somehow "subtle and pronounced all at the same time," and the chocolate glaze is a perfect complement.

Another plus: something about this cake is bright and joyful, which is just what we needed this week. (Anyone else sitting in the middle of a blizzard?!)

Hearty Baked Oatmeal

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Dear "oatmeal haters," this recipe is for you (and me)! The secret to Bobbi's baked oatmeal lies in a "custard-like mixture" that the oats sit in overnight to "soak up the delicious flavors" of cinnamon, nutmeg and toasted coconut. "This also gives the oats a chewy, nutty texture, which is quite nice - especially when topped with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries and submerged in a puddle of warm milk."

"Who's hatin' on oatmeal now?" Not me!

Avocado Cream Cheese Cookies

Avocado Cream Cheese Cookies

This recipe taught me something new: you can substitute avocado for butter. (Extra benefit: "avocado is very healthy and can lower cholesterol.") Plus, I'm sure it's a great addition to the cream cheese that also shows up in this cookie batter! These cookies are adorable and delicious!

Maple Cinnamon Quick Bread

Maple Cinnamon Quick Bread

This bread is the best of all worlds: quick, healthy, yummy. Erica uses whole wheat flour, buttermilk and maple syrup in her batter and then folds in "bits of butter mixed with cinnamon." The result is a bread that "tastes like a mixture of quick bread and cinnamon swirl bread," and is filled with "little pockets of buttery cinnamon goodness."

Recipe: Cinnamon Bread

Orange and Almond Sponge with Butterscotch Sauce and Pistachio Praline

Orange and Almond Sponge with Butterscotch Sauce and Pistachio Praline

This recipe combines all the flavors of winter into a warm, comforting dessert. The tanginess of fresh orange is complemented and offset by shaved almonds, a sweet butterscotch sauce and homemade pistachio praline. Best of all, it "whips up in minutes" so that you can "sit back and relax with your family." 

Recipe: Orange and Almond Sponge with Butterscotch Sauce and Pistachio Praline

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Thanks to a wonderful Christmas present from her sister (Martha Stewart's cupcake book!), Shawnda's favorite Italian dessert gets cupcake-ified. "Moist" cake and "rich and fluffy" frosting combine for all the flavor of the real thing. Here's to making our cake and eating it, too!

Recipe: Tiramisu Cupcakes

Buttermilk Cakes with Spiced Vanilla Icing

Buttermilk Cakes with Spiced Vanilla Icing

These little cakes walk a fine line between muffin and cupcake, but they do it so well that you can serve them as either. Thanks to the buttermilk and a secret ingredient (butternut squash!), they're savory enough to serve with brunch (we did!) but sweet enough to enjoy again after dinner. Twice as nice. 

Recipe: Buttermilk Cakes with Spiced Vanilla Icing

L'Exotique

L'Exotique

Swee always submits the most beautiful dishes - carefully crafted and full of delicate, balanced flavors. This cake is no exception.

I'll admit that I had to Google "dacquoise," which is a layered cake, usually served chilled and accompanied by fruit. A very fitting definition for this dessert. Swee's layers of coconut-lime cake are intermingled with mango gelee, passionfruit and mango bavarian cream and lemongrass bavarian cream. Then, the whole thing is topped with white chocolate ganache.

You're supposed to chill this beauty for 3-6 hours before serving, but if you're anything like me you're already contemplating how to take a bite!

Recipe: L'Exotique

Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Filling

Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Filling

Gingersnaps are one of those classic Christmas cookies that will never go out of style. They are also easy to dress up with icings and fillings like Christina's yummy cinnamon cream. The sweetness of the filling complements the spiciness of the ginger, and if you make these the day before, "the cookies will soften and the flavors will mingle, making them even more irresistible!"

Recipe: Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Filling