almond cake with summer berries

I started off the summer testing a couple cake recipes, searching for “the one” — a simple, plain cake that tastes great all by itself, one that would also make a perfect companion to the various fruits that come and go all year long: citrus-rhubarb-berries-peaches-plums-cherries-apples-pears.

This cake was it. It’s the one to keep on your recipe list of basic essentials — just like a black t-shirt, it goes with everything.

Almonds pair well with many fruits, especially all the ones (like peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries and even apples) they’re actually related to botanically. And fun fact: Stone fruit pits are the source of “bitter almond” flavor. They contain oils that are used to produce almond extract and flavorings, each kernel harboring a small amount of prussic acid a/k/a potassium cyanide. (Don’t worry, we’re talking trace amounts that are destroyed when heated during the manufacturing process).

[Read more…]

chocolate amaro cake

I wasn’t always a bitter person. But my interest in singling out that particular tastebud over other basic ones has grown from what was once adventurous curiosity to a bona fide obsession. It’s a big leap. I had a childhood love of sweets and soft drinks (hello mouthful of dental work), but now I crave the opposite, along with heated spice and saltiness.

And I’m not the only one. Unlike Italians, who have been cultivating and cooking bitter foods for centuries – think of radicchio, rapini, arugula, and dark-roasted coffee “corrected” with shots of Fernet-Branca – American palates are just now getting caught up with them. [Read more…]

hazelnut cocoa crumb cake

Here’s a coffee cake recipe to bake this weekend, ideal for a late breakfast or brunch, for all the Valentines in your house. With the exception of the dog, as much as mine would convince me otherwise (she did helpfully clean up some stepped-on hazelnuts from the floor while I made it).

It’s an all-ages-show kind of cake, neither deeply decadent like a boozy truffle or over the top chocolatey like an oozy lava cake. Although both of those sound pretty good… [Read more…]