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Friday Favorites: 2020

Friday Favorites: 2020Happy New Year! This post is coming at you from the recent past—December 29th—so I hope no new terrible things have happened between then and this posting. 2020 was such a weird year. It started off okay, but quickly devolved to…well, whatever this is. I, for one, am hoping for hope in 2021.

As a preface to this list, I wrote three paragraphs about the events of last year (staying at home, flour shortage, bread, people learning to bake, blah blah blah) and then deleted them because, you know, you were there. It was a year where nearly everything changed, but at least one thing remained the same: I was here, baking in Brooklyn. Here are some of my personal favorite recipes from 2020.Friday Favorites: 2020
Mini Layer Cakes

There weren’t many layer cakes on here in 2020, but the ones that made the cut were teensy—just enough for 4-6 servings. Perfect for a pandemic, right?!Friday Favorites: 2020
Pecan Sandies

Buttery shortbread is difficult to beat for ease and pure deliciousness, but adding in a hefty dose of toasted pecans (and nostalgia) never hurt anything.Friday Favorites: 2020
Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

I got a little homesick around my birthday this year, so I made a Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}, which happens to be a Fort Worth favorite. You won’t find chocolate sponge or cherries in this recipe, but if you are into light-as-air almond dacquoise, whipped cream, dark chocolate and the best kind of chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag), you are in for a treat. Did I mention it’s naturally gluten-free?Friday Favorites: 2020
“I Got Yolks” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta} requires a whole lot of egg whites, which means you’ll have a whole lot of leftover yolks…which means you should make some “I Got Yolks” Chocolate Chip Cookies. To put it plainly, they’re simply the best chewy chocolate chip cookies to ever come out of my kitchen.Friday Favorites: 2020
Crispy, Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yes, this was a year with two chocolate chip cookie recipes. These crispy, crunchy ones were a long time coming, and were they ever worth the wait!Friday Favorites: 2020
Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Rainbow sprinkles and cookie cake are two of my favorite things. Put them together and make them mini? How can I resist?!Friday Favorites: 2020
Buttermilk Pancakes

Perfect fluffy pancakes eluded me for years, but not anymore! These are really good and really easy. Oh, and those golden tops? They’re easier to achieve than I ever thought possible.Friday Favorites: 2020
Chocolate Quinoa Cake {Gluten-Free}

One of my biggest accomplishments this year was staying sober through…everything. While I normally don’t celebrate my sobriety date on here, it seemed important to publicly acknowledge it during a time of so much struggle. When I hit seven years in April, I celebrated at home with this Chocolate Quinoa Cake. It’s made with an easy blender batter, is naturally gluten-free, and absolutely delicious with a blanket of chocolate buttercream.Friday Favorites: 2020
Homemade Chocolate Shell

Making my own ice cream toppings is one of my favorite warm weather pastimes. This two ingredient Homemade Chocolate Shell has appeared on this blog many times over the years, but 2020 was when it finally got its moment to shine.Friday Favorites: 2020
Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

I brought in 2020 eating Almond Boterkoek on my friend, David’s couch. Eight weeks later (to the day!), I figured out the recipe for myself. It’s a simple cake, perfect for any occasion, including saying goodbye to our weirdest year on record.Friday Favorites: 2020
Brown Butter Nutella Swirl Muffins

Brown Butter. Nutella Swirl. Muffins.

Need I say more?Friday Favorites: 2020
Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls

Imagine biting into pure sunshine, but with butter and icing. That’s what these are like.Friday Favorites: 2020
Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

These sweet, tart, teeny-tiny cookies are filled with a homemade ruby red grapefruit curd. So, so good. I cannot say this more explicitly: you must make these. Must.Friday Favorites: 2020
Oatmeal Puff Pancake {Gluten-Free Dutch Baby}

Puff Pancakes are my favorite weekend breakfast of all time, and making them whole grain and gluten-free? Well, that makes them even better.Friday Favorites: 2020
Oatmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside waffles made without flour or animal products? You better believe it!Friday Favorites: 2020
Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Speaking of making things vegan and gluten-free, finally making a Gingerbread Cake for my friend, VJ, was a great way to end the year. It’s dark, perfectly-spiced, and slightly sticky. It might just be the only Gingerbread Cake recipe you’ll ever need.Friday Favorites: 2020
Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’mores

If you’ve been here a while, you know I love to sing the praises of sweetened condensed milk—that stuff can do anything, including make a spreadable pumpkin pie filling for everything from toast to s’mores.Friday Favorites: 2020
Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns

Back when the pandemic began and shelves were empty, I threw my plans out the window and baked and blogged exclusively from what I already had on hand. These Cream Biscuit Sticky Buns were one of the results—a mash-up of two of my favorite things.Friday Favorites: 2020
Maple Sugar Cookies

These little sugar cookies have huge maple flavor. Made with brown butter, brown sugar and a double dose of pure maple syrup, they’re impossible to resist.Friday Favorites: 2020
Cocoa Brownies

I’d be remiss if I forgot to mention that this blog turned five years old in 2020! It was a highlight of my year, as was celebrating with the Cocoa Brownies from my first post. They’re easy, fudgy and so, so good.

Have you made any of these recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Friday Favorites: 2020

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}A week on Swan’s Island is never enough time. It simply isn’t. Yes, there’s relaxing and hiking and quiet, but just when you start to fully decompress, you have to get back on the ferry, drive ten hours, and return to your real life. It’s the worst.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}We keep saying “two weeks next year” but only getting half of that. I’m putting it out to the universe now: one month next year. That way, when we only get half, it’ll be two weeks. Am I trying to con the universe in to more vacation? Sure, why not. You can’t blame me for wanting to spend time with the friends we’ve made up there (even socially distanced) instead of carrying on entire relationships via Facebook.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I mean, would you believe that I’ve pretty much never baked for anyone on Swan’s Island? It’s true. I’ve been going there regularly for the last six years, made some friends, and know the people who own the general store well enough that they recognized me immediately with my mask on, but I’ve never really baked for any of them. They know, of course, that I bake and blog, and I always say I’m going to make something for them, but then time gets away and suddenly I’m on the ferry back to the mainland.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}All that said, when we booked our trip in July, I decided this year was *the* year. I tested a recipe before I left Brooklyn, brought a box of potato starch and the vegan butter I like, and it took until the second-to-last day, but I baked this Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting for my Maine people. Finally.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I’ve never put a sheet cake on here. It’s not because I think they’re “less than” or something—I just have occasions for other configurations of cake and frosting far more frequently than I do for this super simple slice-and-share situation. But our annual Swan’s Island trip? That’s a slice-and-share situation if I’ve ever seen one. Especially in COVID, when get-togethers with people outside my immediate germ pod aren’t a thing, it was so nice to be able to wrap up and dole out slices of this Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting without having to worry about keeping layers intact.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As with most of what we eat on Swan’s Island, this cake was made with my trusty co-traveler/fellow Maine enthusiast, VJ, in mind. I’ve mentioned many times that she is a gluten-free vegan, and though I am not either of those things, I greatly enjoy the challenges and rewards of baking (and cooking) that way when we are together. It’s far more fun to bake when people can eat what you make…not that I’d be particularly mad about being saddled with all 15 slices of this cake. I mean, do you see that vegan Maple Frosting???Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The pumpkin cake is a variation on the vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake I posted last year. It relies primarily on almond flour, potato starch and cornstarch for structure, and pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie spice for flavor. There are other things in the batter too, of course (granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, leaveners, almond milk), and they all bake up into a moist, tender, nicely-spiced sheet of cake. Vegan and gluten-free or not, this pumpkin cake is legit.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Believe me when I tell you that I understand wanting to eat this cake by its lonesome straight out of the oven, or with a simple dusting of confectioner’s sugar…but also? Believe me when I tell you that a swoopy layer of Maple Frosting takes this seasonal dessert from very good to fabulous. For real.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting is very good the day it’s made, but as with many pumpkin spice things, it’s actually more delicious the next day, after the flavors have melded. But with a cake this good around, I can’t blame anyone for not waiting to dig in. I mean, I certainly didn’t.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes a single layer 9×13-inch sheet cake

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
~1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup pure pumpkin purée
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For finishing:
Vegan Maple Frosting (recipe below)
sprinkle of ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 1 1/4 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cornstarch, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth to the edges with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out with only a few crumbs.

Let cake cool completely in its pan on a cooling rack. Run a thin knife along the edges of the pan before inverting to release onto a platter (alternatively, you may keep it in the pan and serve from there). Frost as desired with Vegan Maple Frosting (recipe below). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Frosted cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Unfrosted cake may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

Vegan Maple Frosting
makes enough for the top of one sheet cake

4 ounces (1/2 cup) vegan butter, room temperature (I like Miyoko’s)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) shortening, room temperature (I like Nutiva)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Mix in confectioners sugar in two installments, mixing until combined and fluffy. Mix in salt, followed by vanilla and maple syrup.

Use to frost the top of the sheet cake.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How to Make Mini Layer CakesI have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to celebrate this year. Does it feel like the world is crashing down around us and everything is at least vaguely scary? Sure. Is there still stuff to celebrate? You know it.

I mean, all of us are going to have pandemic birthdays this year. Every last dang one. Birthday parties are inadvisable, but cake? That’s non-negotiable. If we can’t have cake in times of both joy and crisis, then what on earth are we even doing here?!How to Make Mini Layer CakesIn that spirit, today’s post is not actually a recipe, but instead is all about how to make a layer cake fit for a pandemic…er, small group. Sure, you could make a single layer of cake for any occasion you have coming up, but some things require a cake that’s stacked up tall, even if it’s on the miniature side. I’ve been making Mini Layer Cakes for years, for everything from birthdays to baby showers to wedding cake practice. It’s super fun and a great way to brighten someone’s day (or your own!) in these rough times.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How Big are Mini Layer Cakes?

The cakes pictured are 4 inches in diameter and 2.5 and 2.75 inches tall, respectively.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How Many People Can Mini Layer Cakes Feed?

Well, it depends. I think of these as being 4-6 servings, but could go up to eight in a pinch. I’m sure some of you are looking at these and thinking they’d only feed two–I suppose it all depends on exactly how much cake you want to eat in one go. Use your judgment.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

What Flavors are Best for Mini Layer Cakes?

The answer here is pretty much anything your heart desires. The cakes pictured are Vanilla Cake + Nutella Buttercream and Chocolate Cake + Strawberry Buttercream; I chose these flavors based solely on what I had on hand.

The general rule for my Mini Layer Cakes is to make roughly half the recipe of any normal 9-inch layer cake. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas off the top of my head:

Funfetti cake + vanilla buttercream
red velvet cake + cream cheese frosting
carrot cake (without nuts/fruit) + cream cheese frosting
white cake + seasonal fruit or jam + whipped cream frosting
vanilla cake with a little almond extract + mocha buttercream
-vanilla cake + key lime curd + whipped cream frosting
-vanilla cake + lemon syrup + lazy lemon curd + vanilla buttercream with lemon zest
chocolate cake + Oreo Buttercream
peanut butter cake + chocolate frosting
Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}! <—Yes, it works!How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Things You Need to Make a Mini Layer Cake

-a single 9-inch layer of cake
-a half-batch of buttercream
-filling of choice, if not using buttercream
-a serving plate or cardboard round
-a ruler
a 4-inch ring cutter
-a serrated knife for trimming
-an offset icing knife

First things first, you’ve got to have the supplies. This list is pretty similar to what I use for regular layer cakes with a few exceptions. To start, you’ll need one 9-inch layer of cake and a small batch of buttercream…or roughly a half the quantity of most layer cake recipes. I understand that not all cake recipes halve easily (splitting eggs!), so I’ve included halved versions of my vanilla and chocolate cakes at the end of the post.How to Make Mini Layer CakesThe major specialty item here is a 4-inch ring for cutting small layers. Can you just bake your cake in 4-inch pans? Sure, and I have on many occasions, but they tend to produce dramatically domed cakes, and frankly, you’re never going to get as much use out of those pans as you think you will. As a person who has nearly every piece of kitchen equipment anyone could ever need, please trust me on this. It is much easier to bake a single larger layer of cake and then cut it into smaller ones.

With a 4-inch cutter, you’ll be able to get two small layers out of a single 9-inch round layer. If you measure/have a keener eye than I do, you can bake a 9-inch square layer and get four small layers out of it. That way, you can make two mini cakes at once or freeze two of the layers for another occasion. Either way, you’ll have leftover cake scraps, but I don’t see that as a problem.

Don’t have or want a 4-inch ring? Find a 4-inch circular object, trace it onto parchment, then cut out the circle and use it as a stencil.

How to Assemble a Mini Layer Cake

Mini Layer Cake assembly isn’t rocket science, but has its challenges. There is a lot of measuring and evening out of things, but rest assured that you’ll get the hang of it quickly.How to Make Mini Layer CakesStart by using your cutter to cut two small layers out of your larger layer. Make sure that the cutter is as close to the edge of the larger layer as possible, so as to make room for a complete second layer. <—This is important.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesUse your ruler to measure your layers for height. There is a good chance your layers will have an incline, as cakes tend to dome a bit as they bake. Grab your serrated knife and even out the top of one layer. Make sure it’s even (or very close) and measure it again—this how tall you want your other layer to be. Repeat that process to even out that second layer, until they’re identical in height (or very close). Mine are all about an inch tall.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesNext up, stacking. Swipe a tiny bit of buttercream on your plate or cardboard round, then place one of your layers on top. If you’re a messy froster like me, tuck bits of parchment under the cake all the way around for clean edges. Frost the top of your layer, then stack the second layer on top and press down lightly to adhere.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesFrom here, frost as normal. For me, that means a very light crumb coat (thin layer of buttercream), a 20 minute chill, then a thicker layer of buttercream, piping and decor.

Keep in mind that Mini Layer Cakes are smaller and lighter-weight than what most of us are used to, and therefore cannot take as much physical pressure as a larger cake, particularly when frosting around the sides. Be gentle with the cake and with yourself, and remember that there is no shame in having to move layers back into place and frost over flaws. Buttercream is a surprisingly forgiving medium.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesAt this point you can serve your cake. I, however, like to let mine sit for an hour or two ahead of serving, just to let everything adhere nicely. This isn’t strictly necessary, but I find it makes slicing easier and prettier. If you’re refrigerating your cake, make sure to let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How to Transport a Mini Layer Cake

If you’re making a Mini Layer Cake (or any layer cake), chances are you have to take it to a celebrant or they have to pick it up. In more normal times, I box and transport cakes all over NYC. The most important thing in this process is to make sure your cake fits the box beforehand—this is why I have a ruler in my kitchen. My cake boxes are 3-inches tall, so the cardboard round, both layers of cake and any filling and frosting need to be shorter than that when stacked.How to Make Mini Layer CakesOther important things? Keep your box as level as possible. I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping them level while walking and riding in cars and on the subway. It’s just a matter of remembering that pretty much everything (your body, a car seat, etc.) has a natural slope, and then carrying/positioning your box in a way to counterbalance that. Also, remember that cold cakes are easier to transport. When delivering cakes, I refrigerate them as soon as I’m done assembling, and then let them come back to room temp while en route to wherever I’m going.

Please know that I have shown up a few times with cakes that did not look the way they did when I left the house. This is a hazard of the job–rest assured that ugly cake is still delicious. If you make somebody a cake and they don’t like it because it’s a little disheveled, take it back. You don’t need that negativity.

And on that note, if you are inspired to make a Mini Layer Cake or two and need a place for them to go, I’m gladly accepting donations.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes
Are there any Mini Layer Cake tutorials you’d like to see? Thinking of doing one for tiered cakes (wedding cake). Let me know what you think in the comments.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Vanilla Cake {Half Recipe}
makes 1 9-inch layer or enough for 1 mini layer cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 batch Nutella Buttercream or other buttercream

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9-inch round or square pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Add remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in its pan for fifteen minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edge of the pans and invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off and discard parchment.

For a Mini Layer Cake, follow instructions detailed in the post above. Fill and frost with Nutella Buttercream or other buttercream.

Chocolate Cake {Half Recipe}
makes 1 9-inch layer or enough for 1 mini layer cake

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons espresso granules (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water
1 batch Strawberry Buttercream or other buttercream

Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9-inch round or square pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso granules, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and egg, followed by vanilla and buttermilk. Whisk in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the boiling water. Whisk in remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining boiling water.

Pour batter into the pans. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Peel off and discard parchment.

For a Mini Layer Cake, follow instructions detailed in the post above. Fill and frost with Strawberry Buttercream or other buttercream.

How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Flourless Peanut Butter Cake

Flourless Peanut Butter Cake If you are into rich, thick, salty-sweet, intensely peanut buttery peanut butter things…well, let me introduce you to your new favorite cake. This Flourless Peanut Butter Cake is the sort of thing that you can whip together for a casual night in (also known as every night right now) or dress it up for a birthday or dinner party (when dinner parties are a thing again).Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeThis recipe is a play on the three ingredient peanut butter cookies that have been around forever. If you haven’t made them this quarantine, the general gist is that you mix together 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar (brown, granulated, or a mix) and an egg, scoop, roll and bake 10-ish minutes for some really excellent grain-free peanut butter cookies.Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeThis cake is almost exactly the same thing, except that I add a few more eggs, a pinch of salt and a little vanilla, and bake it all up in a cake pan. The result is a little chewy at the edges and tender in the center—think somewhere between Flourless Almond Cake and a cookie cake. Yum!

Lest I forget quarantine swaps…feel free to use all brown or all granulated sugar in the cake. You can leave out the vanilla too, if you’re out or running low.Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeAfter the cake has cooled, garnish all up to you. Leave it plain, dust with powdered sugar, serve with ice cream, make it into Peanut Butter Mousse Cake—whatever makes you happy.Flourless Peanut Butter CakeToday marks fifty days of lockdown in NYC, so I felt the need to jazz it up a little. I nuked chocolate chips and peanut butter until smooth, then loaded it into a bag, snipped a tiny corner and drizzled til I liked what I saw. The border is just chopped roasted peanuts and mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s. I know it’s gilding the lily, but like…what else are we doing seven weeks in?Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter Cake

Flourless Peanut Butter Cake
makes one 8-inch round cake

1 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Drizzle (optional):
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon creamy-style peanut butter

Garnish (optional):
chopped peanuts
miniature peanut butter cups
chopped peanut butter cups
Reese’s pieces
chocolate chips
dusting of confectioners sugar

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat peanut butter, granulated and brown sugars until combined and a bit fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in salt and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. Beat on high for 30 seconds.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs (not batter). Let cake cool 30 minutes in the pan on a rack. Cake will deflate a bit as it cools.

Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a plate (or rack). Peel off parchment. Place a serving plate upside-down onto the bottom the cake. Holding on tightly to both plates (but not so tightly as to crush the cake), flip the cake to be right side-up on the serving plate. Let cake cool completely.

Make the drizzle. Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Load into a plastic sandwich bag, snip a tiny corner and drizzle onto the cake as desired. Alternatively, drizzle with a fork or use an offset icing knife (or the back of a spoon) to spread it onto the cake. This will likely be more than you need.

Garnish as desired. To set the drizzle, refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes.

Slice and serve. Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to four days, and in the refrigerator for a bit longer.Flourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter CakeFlourless Peanut Butter Cake

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Chocolate Quinoa CakeCake with frosting seems like it’s almost not allowed right now, but this is not just any cake and this is not just any day. Coronavirus be damned.Chocolate Quinoa CakeIf you’re scratching your head wondering what today is…well, it’s Earth Day, and that is important. But there’s also something that I don’t talk about much on here because it seems mostly irrelevant to the daily operation of a food blog…but it’s actually completely relevant because there would be no E2 Bakes without it. Today marks seven years since I took a drink or a drug. Yep, I’m that sober home-baking food blogger that nobody warned you about.

I’m serious when I say there would be no E2 Bakes without my sobriety. I talked about having a blog for years before actually committing to it, and for no other reason than that I was held back by my own addiction issues. I didn’t start baking with any regularity until I quit drinking, and then I spent more than a year just learning and practicing before I hit “publish.” But here we are, four and a half years and a lot of learning and practicing and baking and failing and succeeding later. This blog is not what keeps me sober, but it certainly helps.Chocolate Quinoa CakeQuitting drinking and putting mind-altering substances in my body is the kindest thing I’ve ever done for myself and the people I love. I’ve gained so much more from that one decision (and many moments of grace and a lot of trudging) than I will ever be able to adequately express, least of all the ambition to run a baking blog. And, well, now you know why there is never liquor in my bakes or wine in my sauces–I can’t post something I can’t test.Chocolate Quinoa Cake

I don’t normally mark this day on here because I celebrate elsewhere, but with everything on lockdown for the foreseeable future, things have changed. So, how does a food blogger celebrate being sober for seven whole years all in a row? With cake, of course!Chocolate Quinoa CakeLayer cakes are out for now and flour is difficult to find, but chocolate and frosting (and sprinkles!) are always welcome in my kitchen. Today’s cake is one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever had—so tender and chocolaty! If I weren’t telling you right now, I bet you’d never guess that it’s made with a cup of cooked quinoa instead of flour. For real.Chocolate Quinoa CakeThe batter—which includes cocoa powder, a hint of coffee, eggs and milk—is made in a blender to eliminate any whole pieces of quinoa. I wouldn’t recommend making most cake batters in a blender, but since this cake is naturally gluten-free, there’s no need to worry about overmixing or tough cake. Score!Chocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa Cake bakes up in 30 minutes and is thin enough that it cools within an hour. I topped it off with a small batch of chocolate buttercream and dug into my stash of rainbow sprinkles for the occasion.Chocolate Quinoa CakeOh yeah, that’s the stuff.Chocolate Quinoa CakeAs for quarantine substitutions:

-this single layer cake is the perfect size for my celebration needs right now, but it can be both halved and doubled. I haven’t tried it as cupcakes.
-if you don’t have a square pan, you can use a round one.
-no parchment, no problem. Grease the pan and dust with cocoa powder. If you’re concerned about releasing the whole cake, you can slice and serve directly from the pan.
-the ingredients for this cake are pretty set, but feel free to swap the oil for melted butter and to leave out the espresso powder and vanilla, if you don’t have them.
-use any color of quinoa you like. I used white.
-as far as frostings go, the sky’s the limit. Make any flavor you want, go for whipped cream or ganache, or keep it simple with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.
-you can freeze this cake with or without frosting. It’ll keep triple-wrapped in plastic for several weeks. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before enjoying.Chocolate Quinoa CakeWhew! Okay. Now that you’re armed with everything you need to make a kickass gluten-free chocolate cake, go find something to celebrate. I promise you will. Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Chocolate Quinoa Cake
makes one single-layer 8- or 9-inch square cake

Cake Batter:
1 cup cooked quinoa (measured like flour)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons milk of choice
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee granules, optional
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Chocolate Buttercream:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For garnish (optional):
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies and/or nonpareils)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Place all cake batter ingredients in a blender (or a tall cup for a stick blender). Blend for about a minute, or until no whole quinoa remains. Scrape down the sides as necessary.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap full pan a few times on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes back clean or with only a few crumbs (not batter).

Let cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a thin knife along the edges of the pan and invert onto a rack. Cool completely.

Make the chocolate buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Place cake on a serving plate. Top with buttercream and spread to the edges. Scatter sprinkles over the top, if using.

Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days or in the fridge for up to five.Chocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa CakeChocolate Quinoa Cake