It happened again: lots of living and not much blogging. This summer has been adventurous and at times, delicious. I am grateful for the milestones we celebrated and the simple moments we savored. When I look at these photos I remember unexpected treats from this past season; wishing all of you those reminders of the good times. I sense a reflective autumn coming on.
You know those cozy hexagonal structures of wax made by bees to store their precious goods, including honey? How perfect that this honey brittle recipe also takes on the appearance of its former storage home: the honeycomb! Martha Stewart’s recipe for Honeycomb Brittle has been close to the top of my “I want to make this recipe” mountain since I spied it a few years ago.
All that time I had no idea that I was just four ingredients away from a little kitchen science and my new favorite brittle recipe. The mixture explodes in the pot when baking soda is added at the last minute, which accounts for is delightful airiness. It’s also easy to break apart once it hardens; if you’d like a little more control over the shapes of the shards, just score the brittle with a knife beforehand.
Next time I will add walnuts or almonds to the honey candy, as it is a perfect mix for encasing extra goodies. In part of this batch I set up candles in the brittle and broke them apart to make edible candle holders for plopping atop a honey lemon cake later this week (I will be 32!). The honeycomb brittle was also a fun and sweet crunchy accompaniment to a mug of creamy Greek yogurt the other morning. There’s nothing wrong with pre-celebrating, is there?
Since it stores and travels well, I am taking bags of the light and golden candy to contribute to our family munchies this holiday. Warm (and sweet) Thanksgiving wishes to All.
P.S. Dreaming All Day included me in 50 Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas today – check out her yummy round-up!
I went to a sweet and rambunctious birthday celebration for my nephew this week. We had fun doing science experiments (elephant toothpaste, lava in a cup, homemade bouncy balls) and playing games (basketball, tag, water balloon pinata) with his old kindergarten classmates. Don’t you love the cake? My sister made a fudgy football field with icing turf; we almost forgot what green grass looks like during this drought! I think the birthday boy felt the love as he passed out pieces of the field to his friends in his newly stained birthday/gameday knees.
My sister helped out with the sweet treats for a friend’s “sunshine and giggles” 1st birthday party. When she was telling me about all of their fun ideas, I said, what about using golden Oreos in the cupcakes (like the ones you made last summer)? She did just that, using a french vanilla cake mix and the marshmallow fluff frosting recipe. So sunny and bright, just like this little girl’s smile: Happy Birthday, Lily!
Every year pumpkin season starts for me on September 27 when, to commemorate her birthday, my mom gets out the Libby’s and puts together two pumpkin pies to share. My sister’s family came to celebrate this weekend, so I hunted down my pumpkin whoopie pie recipe to make for our get together. I changed up the original recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking a bit with some bourbon, olive oil, allspice and extra cinnamon. The result was a less vanillan, more splendorous barrel spice pumpkin cake, sandwiching the lustrous cinnamon cream cheese sweetness. Looking forward to pie with Mom on Tuesday. Happy Fall!
Bourbon Spice Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe (12 big ones or 24 lil’ ones)
Tops and Bottoms: 3 c all purpose flour / 1 t kosher salt / 1 t baking powder / 1 t baking soda / 2 T cinnamon / 1 T allspice / 1 T cloves / 2 c dark brown sugar / 1 c olive oil / 3 c chilled pumpkin purée / 2 large eggs / 1 t bourbon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper – important!
1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices together and set aside. 2. In a separate bowl, whisk the brown sugar and oil together until combined. 3. Add the pumpkin and combine thoroughly. 4. Add the eggs and bourbon until combined. 5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until combined.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, about one inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you whip up the middle.
Middle: 3 c confectioners sugar / 2 t cinnamon / 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened / 8 oz cream cheese, softened / 1 t bourbon
1. Sift the confectioners sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. 2. In separate bowl, beat the butter until it’s completely smooth. 3. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. 4. Add the confectioners sugar/cinnamon and bourbon and beat until smooth.
Assemble & Devour. Suggested beverage pairings: milk, Booker’s or Basil Hayden’s.
My sister does such a good job at making occasions magical and so do her relatives. She sewed my niece a new dress, Great Grandma made a special princess blanket and “Aunt Bef” sent her the sweetest fairy outfit that she had to change into right away. Also ethereal was the surprise Oreo in the middle of that chocolate cupcake topped with raspberry marshmallow fluff buttercream frosting (another genius recipe from Everyday Food that was well executed). What’s all the fuss? This little girl inspires us all with her giant heart and zest for life. She makes our lives magical by just being her.
I was flattered when asked to bake a cake for my dear friend Mary’s 30th birthday back porch celebration. I asked for her top 5 ingredients, and she said, “lemon and raspberry would be on the list, possibly strawberry or coconut. Usually chocolate, but it’s so-oo hot that fruit is on the brain.” I found a hot pink raspberry cake recipe, then I was told about this lovely lemon yogurt cake recipe. Why not both? I added frozen raspberries to one of the layers of the undoubtedly light and fresh lemon cakes, and topped it with raspberry cream cheese frosting. The hot pink cake turned into mini-cupcakes with dark chocolate buttercream. The evening was filled with deliciousness (her husband makes homemade breads! and they made those nuts I can’t stop eating). The birthday girl was aglow.
This weekend I helped celebrate my nephew’s 6th birthday Cars style. For the kids’ cakes, my sister poured chocolate cake batter into donut pans, popped them in the oven, and out came cake tires! We each got one of our own and customized the sidewalls with frosting and candy; the kids were genius decorators! We all kept calling them donuts, but they were lighter than that. What a simple to handle and festive alternative to cupcakes. I couldn’t get enough of the toppings (surprise!) and have to say that the cake to frosting ratio here was perfect (which is hit or miss with regular cupcakes). Tirecakes taste nothing like burnt rubber.
My mom’s mom was born on July 3rd the same year as Shirley Temple and Mickey Mouse. Because of her birthday, the 4th of July holiday is among my favorite family holidays, too. As long as I can remember, she invites relatives over to her house on Elizabeth Street for a cookout to celebrate. Some aunts and uncles just walk up the street to her front yard, while the rest of us drive in from different corners of the state or country. The configuration of people varies from year to year, but you can usually count on breakfast at Wimbledon, Lay’s potato chips, Uncle George at the charcoal grill and a coconut cake (Grandma’s favorite). I am thankful for both the verbal and silent support that comes from my family and for the sustained comfort that my grandma has instilled in all of us. These are the days when the familiar beats the new and fancy.