Archive for September, 2010


2 ways to get some chocolate-on-chocolate action

Once in a while you’ll come across someone who actually doesn’t like chocolate. That person is called a curmudgeon. Chocolate is a wonderfully complex flavor made up of over 1,500 flavor components, which explains why taste buds tend not to tire of it—and also explains the legions of folks who self-identify as chocoholics.

As a fan of lactose-intolerant-friendly dark chocolate, this cookie recipe was up my alley. They were pretty easy (I used semi-sweet Ghiradelli)—the only tricky part being that it was hard to tell when they were done, since they seem kind of fluffy coming out of the oven and don’t actually firm up until they cool. I made tablespoon-sized globs, about 8 per pan, with a baking time of 10 minutes. (2 pans went into the oven at a time.)

If you cut down on the sugar in the recipe, as I did, you may end up with a mouthful of regret. They’ll still be good, but any bite without a chocolate chip was a little bland. Go full-on with the sugar your first time out, then on future batches you can tweak.

Nuts in cookies are a polarizing subject. Personally, I’m opposed—they just seem like roadblocks to the tastier parts of the cookie, so I left the walnuts out of this recipe.


Praline's double chocolate chip cookies are pretty intense, in a good way.


Of course, if you’re not much of a baker, you could just head to Praline Bakery in Bethesda and pick up a couple of these fudgy chocolate chocolate chip cookies, which beg for a (soy) milk accompaniment ($1.75 each).


Forget dudes with beards eating cupcakes

Who needs that website when readers send in photos of themselves eating pies?

Admittedly, this is a “value pack of co-op cherry bakewells” which means it is an English dessert and therefore horrible.

Still, the sentiment behind the photo is warmly welcomed. The pievcake ladies don’t mind a bit of cheesecake with their cheesecake.


Another cupcake with an identity crisis: Frosting’s Frenchie

Frosting is a bakery opened by a couple of newlyweds who gave up their 9-5 office jobs to follow their dreams (sound familiar?).  The bakery sits on the edge of the Giant, a 5-minute walk from Friendship Heights Metro. The couple who runs the place was recently interviewed on the local news, so I expected the shop to be buzzing. Not so. There was only one person ahead of me, and the early-morning weekday offerings were a bit scant (they don’t bring out the  full regalia of cupcakes until 10:30).

The dollop of frosting reminds me of Tintin's quiff.

I didn’t plan on getting the Frenchie cupcake, but the lady working the counter said it was one of her favorites. The cake base is definitely French toast-inspired. Seems the latest trend is cupcakes that are trying to be other things, like this pie-inspired cheddar-apple cupcake.

Anyway, the cake part of the Frenchie wasn’t sweet–it tasted a bit like cinnamon toast. This contrasts nicely with the maple buttercream icing (which I could’ve sworn was cream cheese, but either way, it was delicious).

Turns out cupcakes posing as French toast is actually a good thing.


These cookies be highbrow and s****

These new cookies caught my eye in Trader Joe’s for 2 reasons:

  1. Because they have the most ass-inine name ever.
  2. They strike more than a passing resemblance to Tate’s Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies, the ones that are always sold out at Whole Foods.

These cookies be highbrow and sh**.

So, back to that name, which isn’t so much a dig at Chips Ahoy as it is a reference to the premium ingredients, price ($3.99 for 7 oz./14 cookies, more than a buck less than Tate’s), and maybe even a nod to the fact that Tate’s is based out of the Hamptons.

Given this article about Trader Joe’s, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tate’s were manufacturing these. The cookies taste like exact copycats. While I can’t fault Trader Joe’s for creating cheaper house versions of other people’s products, if I owned Tate’s and weren’t getting a cut of this, I’d be pissed.

March 27, 2011 addendum:

The March-April 2011 Trader Joe’s Culinary Compendium flyer writes: “Our buyers kept hearing about this small bake shop in New York that made ‘the’ Chocolate Chip Cookie.” Naturally, a thorough investigation ensued. The reputation was rapidly validated. Using only fresh, quality ingredients, their recipe is straightforward…So we brought these thin, au courant cookies to you with a little added humor and a lot of added value.” Is this Trader Joe’s admission that they ripped off Tate’s, or that Tate’s is manufacturing these cookies for them? Either way, cookies lovers win.


Can you get good desserts at an Asian restaurant?

By that we mean something besides the run-of-the-mill offerings, like fried bananas, mango sticky rice or green tea ice cream. In many Asian cultures it isn’t customary to follow a meal with a proper dessert, but something lighter like fruit (hence the orange slices that come out with your check at the Chinese restaurant). Which explains why the selection of desserts at Asian restaurants typically sucks.

Pie and I were pleasantly surprised by the extensive dessert menu at Kaz Sushi Bistro. Although tempted by the litchi panna cotta with mango sorbet, I ended up going for this ginger creme brulee. No regrets, although I would’ve preferred more gingeriness and a thicker bruleed top to crack under my spoon, the kind that Amelie Poulain would approve of.

Pie opted for the green tea tiramisu, which prompted inquiries/looks of longing from the table next to us when it came out. It was light, chockfulla matcha green tea, and not radioactive green as it looks in this photo.

For more on desserts from Asian restaurants, read our post on Ritz Seafood’s coconut cream pie.


Knickerbocker Glory Trifle


Originally uploaded by ann gav

Best name for a dessert ever? Quite possibly, even though the term “Knickerbocker Glory” makes me think of the (nonexistent?) heyday of a certain NBA basketball team. This was, hands down, the tastiest normal dessert I had in Britain, yet I still only found it tasty enough to down about half of it. Despite the strawberry-soaked sponge cakiness awaiting me at the bottom of this dessert, the top was covered with a mysterious clear gelatinous layer. I get that the dessert needs a base upon which to pile the fruit and cream toppings, but it still felt like this was crafted by an alien race who were hoping to infect Earthlings with baby alien eggs that will pop out of our stomachs.
Not a British dessert FAIL, but not a British dessert win, either. Maybe a British dessert TIE?


butterscotch eclairs


Originally uploaded by ann gav

Looks good, doesn’t it?
It wasn’t.
The eclair was passably eclairish, but the butterscotch pieces on top were a chewy, hard consistency, like a half-melted Riesen dusted in gold.
It was like putting a Jolly Rancher on a chocolate cupcake.
England, your desserts FAIL AGAIN.


A second life for decapitated cupcakes

It’s not an atypical office scenario. There’s a basket of Au Bon Pain/Corner Bakery/Starbucks muffins left over from a client meeting sitting in the kitchen. A coworker comes along and twists the top of off one, leaving only the bottom to some hapless schmuck to follow. Is it just me, or is that bad form? If you’re not going to take the whole thing, can’t you at least cut it vertically?

The Hello Cupcake pie. Battered from being jostled in my purse, but still delicious.

Which brings me to Hello Cupcake, who’s taking day-old cupcakes, cutting off the heads, and gluing them together with icing. In other words, makeshift whoopie pies for $2 each. Anyway, for my money, these are the best whoopie pies in DC. The cake-to-icing ratio works well. They’re also much easier to eat on the go than any cupcake. And there’s no compunction from leaving the bottoms to someone else.


Other ways to enjoy your pie and cake

1. Pulverized in a shake, from Rehoboth’s Ice Cream Store. You can get a slice of cheesecake, brownie, or apple pie added to your milkshake. Genius.

2. On a stick, like this chocolate-covered key lime pie slice from the Key West Key Lime Pie Company. All you need is a bowl of whipped cream to dip this in.

Via Man Eat Food.

Click on photo to order.


Persian lime/orange flower/pistachio cake

I’ve been eating this delicious cake for breakfast for the past week, which is better warmed up in the microwave for a bit, served with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkling of pistachios. Since it’s made with yogurt and almond flour, I like to tell myself it’s a good start to the day.

Click for original recipe via

This cake reminds me of my friend/former coworker Shadi, who introduced me to the wonders of Persian food through our lunch swaps. Eating this takes you through the aisles of Middle Eastern specialty stores–the crates of limes, the bottles of flower waters, bags of crunchy pistachios, etc.

The original recipe calls for rosewater. I had orange flower water handy so I used that instead. Mind you, the taste of any kind of flower water may be overwhelmingly perfumy for some. You may want to completely leave out any kind of flower water if it’s not for you. Taste the syrup before you pour it on the cake.

Photo below is the rosewater version. You can decorate it with rose petals (they’re edible!).

Photo via Good Food Channel.

Recipe (modifed from “lime yogurt cake with rosewater and pistachios” recipe on


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teas baking powder

pinch of salt

6 tbsp ground almonds (I used almond meal from Trader Joe’s)

7 tbsp superfine sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp honey

1 cup plain full-fat yogurt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

zest of 2 limes


Line the base of a 8.5 inch cakepan with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the ground almonds and caster sugar, and mix.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, honey, yogurt, vegetable oil, and lime zest. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and slowly pour in the wet ingredients, whisking together until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the syrup, boil 1/2 cup water and 6 tbsp caster sugar until reduced by half. Add the juice of 2 limes and boil until the mixture gets to a syrupy consistency, about minutes. Cool, then add 1-3 teas of orange water or rose water to taste.

Poke holes in the cake with a toothpick and pour the syrup on. Serve with yogurt and roasted pistachios.