Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake — or, grinning and bearing it

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

When you:

  • Feel a little ground down from life
  • Are questioning whether you are a big hypocrite
  • Just want to curl up in your bed, under the covers, and never leave
  • Count down the days until the weekend, starting Monday morning
  • Are frustrated with some of your co-workers and wonder if the workplace isn’t actually just the setting of a passive aggressive war in which there are many weapons and tactics at your disposal
  • Hate the slavish bi-partisanship of your Supreme Court and the batshit, corrupt, the malevolent insanity of your Congress, and the crushing disappointment of your president
  • Have a sore tastebud on the tip of your tongue, making everything you eat torturous
  • Are totally running out of healthy meal-like food but don’t have time or the energy to make a grocery store run (so you totally just eat peanut butter frosting instead)
  • Find the charm of cakes to lie in their presentation, not their taste
  • (Okay, maybe you also like their taste too)

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Vegetable Quiche (with Yeasted Whole Wheat Crust)

Vegetable Quiche

Well, okay, I am generally unafraid to tackle just about any recipe, no matter how complex, how insane the ingredients, and how difficult the technique. I like to go to great lengths to bake and cook for others. Part of it is just to see if I can and part of it is, I admit, vanity.

But let me tell you about the other 99% of the time when, in the necessity of having to feed myself…continuously…until I die…my cooking techniques, discerning tastes, and effort extends only as far as whatever in my refrigerator that is about to expire.

It’s embarrassing. I will never share with you what I eat on a day-to-day basis when the only person I need to impress is myself.

(Except lots and lots of eggs, that is).

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Midnight Amaretto Cupcakes

Midnight Amaretto Cupcakes

This weather, you guys.

Last weekend it snowed six inches. This week it has been in the high 40’s. Sometimes balmy. Sometimes that balmy day ends in “a wintery mix” of snow and sleet. Or, the old New England standby: rain.

I have three overcoats in operation, each of a varying thickness, warmth, and permeability (this last is now more important than ever since my umbrella gave up the ghost during Boston’s last rain-and-furious-wind storm, may it rest in peace). Choosing which coat to wear before I walk out the door is tantamount to planning a military operation. This is weather in New England.

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Marzipan

Chocolate-dipped Marzipan

This past week, I spent less than 24 hours in New York for work, which translates into getting up at 4am for a 7am flight and flying home at 5pm to collapse in my bed at 7pm and remain dead to the world until the next morning. Can I tell you how exhausting that was?

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Chocolate Cocoa Nib Pecan Bread

Chocolate Cocoa Nib Pecan Bread

I have a few confessions to make.

  1. I recently stopped washing my hair with shampoo, and now I just use conditioner. My hair looks a frillion times better as a result.
  2. I am pretty neat in all areas of my life except my workspace. My workspace is a hopelessly cluttered mess, full of objects that do not have any meaningful relevance to each other save for the fact that I had, at one time, placed them there. For example, my workspace (which is to say, my bedroom) currently has, on the bed: A bunch of empty boxes I want to recycle for gifts, some full boxes of things I’ve received in the mail from Birchbox (Have you gotten one of these subscriptions? Delightful!), piles of unopened letters, Michael Rulhman’s Ratio, my Nikon D80 with USB cord still attached, a book on learning Korean, a menu for an Ethiopian restaurant, a half-finished baby blanket, some expired Loft coupons, the Verizon information packet to my iPhone, Amnesty International address labels, a cutting board, cupcake wrappers, black onyx cocoa powder, some Valrhona chocolates, and so many other things.
  3. Sometimes all I will eat for dinner is a spinach and mushroom omelet. EVERY DAY. FOR A WEEK. SOMETIMES TWO. This often happens because I am so doggone exhausted from work and don’t want to spend a lot of energy in putting something fancier together. Also, I really love eggs. A lot. They are nutritious and filling. I can’t seem to get sick of them. Omelets are the perfect food for us low-carb eaters. Sometimes I have an omelet for breakfast AND dinner. So there.

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The NYT’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am ten minutes late to every party, trend, fad, etc.

So of course I would only cotton on to this recipe 3.5 years after the New York Times published a cookie recipe that took the food blogger world by storm. Forget your grandmother’s tried and true Betty Crocker cookbook. These cookies were frequently touted to be the “best chocolate chip cookies you will ever make.”

Well, natural skeptic that I am, this was something I’d have to see for myself.
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Bittersweet Chocolate and Roasted Pear Tarts

chocolatepeartarts1

Recipe from Not Without Salt.

These don’t look nearly as professional nor as well done as Alison’s tarts, but for my first attempt (and for several mistakes made in haste along the way), not bad. My tart molds must have been larger than what was used in the recipe, because I found myself having to made more dough for the shortbread crust.

I used edible gold dust, which resulted in much suspicion.

“Is this real gold?”

“No. I just thought I’d shellac them to be pretty.”

Nevertheless, these went down a smashing success, even if the sheer size of the tart seemed to intimidate all but the tallest and most food-keen.