Friday, April 27, 2012

Holy Holly Haitian Cake

I have the greatest boss in the world.  His name is Holly (pronounced OH-lee), and he is from Haiti.  Holly is by far the nicest, funniest, and most compassionate man I will ever have the pleasure of working with.  Because most of us student employees are seniors, we really wanted to do something special for him this year before we graduate.  He doesn't like it when people do things for him, so we made sure to pump out some information on his birthday and favorite cake from him much earlier in the semester, so that he wouldn't suspect anything.

He said the only kind of cake he likes is Haitian cake.  Of course, I had no idea what that was, and when I typed "Haitian cake" into Google, I got far too many variations to have any idea which one he likes.  I decided to email his wife and see if she had a recipe or just at least a better clue of what he was talking about.  (His wife is a professor here at Wes, and may be one of the only other people on this campus to match her husband in terms of niceness and warmth).  She very quickly responded and sent me the link to this recipe.  I decided it was something I could handle and got to work.

We always like to pick on Holly because of his diet.  He really doesn't like fruit, except for maybe bananas, and you rarely see him eat vegetables (unless you count the onions in his dirty rice and beans).  He most frequently eats fried chicken, grilled cheese, pizza, french fries, and anything else that would clog your arteries.  That's why it came as no surprise to me that his favorite cake would contain no fewer than FOUR sticks of butter and EIGHT eggs.  Holly's birthday is a special occasion every year because we are celebrating one more year that he did not die from cardiac arrest, so I figured that this cake was very fitting for that reason.

Traditional Haitian Butter Cake (Gateau au Beurre) w/ Honey Lemon Syrup
Recipe adapted from EverythingHaitian.com

Chocolate Torture

One day last week my friend Hannah came over to work on a translation project with me.  (I know, you must think I just talk about myself in the third person all the time, because I talk about all my "friends" named Hannah.  Well, I'm being honest.  There 24 Hannahs at this school, and I just so happen to know a lot of them.)

Anyway, one of the other Hannahs came over, and mentioned that she'd been to my house previously to cook with one of my housemates, and noticed all the pictures from my dessert portfolio hanging on my cupboards.  She's not much of a baker herself, but would love to learn, and asked if we could have a baking date before I graduated.  Lucky for her, I had Emma's cake coming up, so we had an excuse.  Unfortunately, most of my cakes are two-day affairs, so since I'd made the cake itself the day before our date, I told her to pick out a recipe.  She chose Black Gold cookies: little gooey, intensely chocolatey, circles of love, native to her home state of Texas.  They are pretty much like a mostly flourless chocolate torte in cookie form (the main ingredient is chocolate, instead of flour and butter like in most cookies).

Definitely food porn
Very unfortunately for me, I gave up chocolate for the week to test whether or not am, indeed, allergic to it.  It took every ounce of strength for me not to try them.  They looked AMAZING.


Black Gold Cookies
Recipe adapted from Veronica's Cornucopia

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Chocoholic's Dream

This year, I became friends with a wonderful girl named Emma.  Not only is she the absolute sweetest person you will ever meet, she is also my other half.  She shares of my love of booty shakin' and wooping in ZUMBA®, rugged mountain men, baking, and intensely chocolately things.  When it came to making her cake, there was no question that it would be filled with chocolate amazingness.

Unfortunately, I discovered some of the most tragic news on the face of the planet: I may possibly be allergic to chocolate.  I have had sporadic hives on my legs for a month now, and they itch so badly I want to take a chain saw to my legs instead of my finger nails.  Well, I recently noticed that these hives seem to appear whenever I eat chocolate.  I decided to go for a week without chocolate to see if this was the cause.  I did OK making the cake, and didn't lick the spatula or have even a drop of chocolate mousse!  But when the cake was cut, I was powerless against the force of a supposed-to-be-four-layered cake filled with chocolate deliciousness, and caved and ate a slice.  I broke out in hives about half an hour later, but it was so worth it :)

Emma's housemate and my dear friend, Alyssa, came over to help me make the cake, and my other friend, Hannah, helped me make the mousse the next day, so many thanks and credit to them!

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake w/ Chocolate Ganache
Recipe adapted from Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nutella & Kahlua Love

This will be a rather short post, because there are not enough words in any language to describe how much my friend Mel means to me.  She gives me this amazing sense of calm and positive energy and peace that cannot be expressed, but only felt.  She is one of the most incredible human beings I have ever met, and therefore deserves a 21st birthday cake that is equally as incredible.  It needed to be something rich, decadent, slightly sinful, with a whole lot of love put into it.  This is what was born to celebrate the birth of Mel:

Nutella Cheesecake with Oreo Crust and Kahlua Ghiradelli Chocolate Sauce
Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Send Silence Packing

Tomorrow is Wesleyan's Send Silence Packing event.  SSP is an event sponsored by Active Minds, Inc. to raise awareness to the fact that 1,100 college students commit suicide in the US each year.  We want to break the silence and the stigma.

Our Active Minds chapter leader at Wes asked us to bake for the event, so I threw together some cookies.  I'm not super proud of them, but I was in a rush and working with what I had in my cupboards.


Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies 
Recipe adapted from the back of a Reese's chips bag

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Senior Survival

Wesleyan senior theses and essays are due this Thursday.  That means there a lot of stressed-out and unhappy seniors this weekend.  Those that are pretty much done are just nit-picking and putting their final edits in.  Those that aren't that lucky are spending every waking hour in the library (and a good portion of their sleeping hours too).  Stacy and I aren't writing theses, so we decided to bake some cookies to cheer up our friends that are.

Stacy adapted this recipe by subbing in coconut and almonds for the espresso to make Almond Joy Shortbread Cookies.
Almond Joy Shortbread Cookies

I sort of made up my own, adapting the basic recipe on the back of a Toll House bag:

Cherry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Yesterday was my housemate's 21st birthday.  Her name is also Hannah.  Two Hannahs living in the same house can get very confusing.  We were supposed to come up with nicknames for the both of us at the beginning of the semester.  She was supposed to be "B" or "Hannah B" and I was supposed to be either "Banana" or "Monkey" because that's what some other people unfortunately call me, not mentioning any names, *cough Nik and Lauren cough*, but somehow we never actually followed through with them.

When we sent out texts and emails telling people to come over to celebrate Hannah's birthday with cake, people got confused about whose birthday it was.  "Wait, wasn't her birthday in February?" and "Hannah made her own cake?"  NO.  The OTHER Hannah's birthday was yesterday.  Now that we've got that straight, let's move on to the cake.

Birthday girl and her cake
My other housemate, Leah, and I collaborated on this little number.  We emailed a bunch of recipe links to each other, but couldn't really come to a decision.  We eventually decided that since the day we made the cake, (Monday), was National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, that we would make a peanut butter and jelly cake.  I'm sorry if this brings to mind this stupid song- I don't know where it came from, or why it is so popular, but I do know how much I hate it.

Anyway, Leah had made our friend Joel absolutely delicious peanut butter and jelly cupcakes 2 weeks ago, and we decided to convert those into a cake.  It didn't turn out quite as delicious as the cupcakes, but it was still pretty delicious.  Leah and I have both been really busy and stressed, so we didn't get a chance to take step-by-step photos on this one.  But that's OK, because I don't suggest using it anyway.  The cake was a lot drier than the cupcakes were, and for some reason was a really weird texture.  The frosting was really overwhelmingly sweet.  We almost made people sign a waiver stating that if they got diabetes after a bite of that cake that it wasn't our fault.  If I were going to make it again, I would probably use a different recipe for the cake, and maybe use a peanut butter cream cheese frosting to cut the sweetness.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake