Chocolate Raspberry Fluff Cake

A chocolate cake with pink whipped cream on top and between the layers; a slice has been cut out and is sitting on a green plate next to the cake stand.

Jordan: We made this cake a week ago and picked it largely because it was Passover-friendly. However, we forgot to write the actual blog post so as we type this, there are approximately two hours left before the end of Passover 2021. Whoops.

Kitra: But it is also delicious, and accidentally very good for the Cherry Blossom Festival here in DC, which is going on for another week! Take that, concept of time.

Kitra has made the chocolate base of this cake before, and it comes to us via Smitten Kitchen, ever a reliable source of excellent cakes. It was new to me, though, and I was quite pleasantly surprised by how light it is.

I think we made our way here because I first wanted to make a mousse cake, but the time required to chill one made it not ideal for the weekend we had. This cake is basically as close as you can get while still being actual cake.

The method is actually rather similar to the chocolate pudding cake we made at the start of the year. The difference is that you beat the crap out of the egg yolks here—to use a technical term—and bake it in thinner layers until it fully sets up, which means that instead of a delicious scoopable cake you get… well, a delicious sliceable cake.

And, since I mostly wanted to eat whipped cream, we threw in a metric craptonalso the technical termof that in the middle and on top. The original recipe calls for plain whipped cream, but everything is pink and beautiful outside and so I’m making everything raspberry.

Kitra’s favorite thing lately is throwing freeze-dried raspberries into recipes. (See the matcha almond tart and the raspberry-glazed cake doughnut cake.) But whipped cream is truly one of freeze-dried fruit’s highest callings; it somehow makes it that much richer and fluffier. You could happily eat this whipped cream with a spoon, and the only reason I don’t recommend it is that you should use as much as possible in between the layers of this cake.

Partially because the cake sinks a fair bit once it comes out of the oven, which creates a cake bowl ready to be filled, but also because it is adorable and tasty.

As you can see from the photos, this is basically equal parts cake and whipped cream. Don’t shy away from that!

Since they’re pretty much the same texture, the whole thing is like a bite of creamy, chocolatey, fruity fluff.

It’s a great dessert to serve after a heavy meal (which I will keep in mind for next Passover) but truly, you can’t go wrong with this at any time.

A whole chocolate cake with pink whipped cream on top and between the layers. There are fake flowers in the background.
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Cake Doughnut Cake

A chocolate-glazed cake with pink sprinkles on top and two forks resting next to it

Kitra: I wanted to make a pink cake, because even though Valentine’s Day means nothing to me (I celebrate Oregon’s Birthday instead, hence the decoration on mine) I love a pink cake. Hot damn, I love a pink cake.

Jordan: Meanwhile, this week turned my brain to mush so I wanted something easy and, beyond that, was happy to let Kitra make all the choices.

I had about a million ideas, but ultimately my desire to make something hella simple and use my fancy new nutmeg (I could not be more excited about it) led me to the Powdered Doughnut cake from Snacking Cakes. I am decidedly not a doughnut person, but I dig a cake doughnut. And, I love a pink, berry glazed doughnut most.

You’ll notice that mine is not pink. That’s because the only doughnut I ever want to eat has a chocolate glaze and sprinkles. I used to intern for a weekly magazine where, every Thursday, they would bring in doughnuts ahead of the publication deadline. Did I work on the print edition? No. Did I still get to the kitchen early so I could steal the chocolate-and-sprinkle doughnut? Yes. Apologies to my former coworkers.

I also really believe in holiday doughnuts? Maybe there’s some memory wedged in the back of my brain of The Jelly Doughnut in Grants Pass using seasonal sprinkles on holidays. Maybe it’s just my love of themed foods. Maybe it’s just cute. Whatever the reason, something felt festive about a doughnut cake.

And it’s a pretty good cake! The nutmeg gives it the little something that keeps it from being completely plain—somehow it ups the “cake doughnut” factor just the right amount.

There’s a good mix of sour cream and butter here too, plus not too much sugar so it seems like an all day cake, and isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. It’s also very fluffy.

It is, as the book promises, a good snacking cake! I’ve already eaten several slivers off of the edge of mine.

I adapted a glaze from the book as well and I will be using this glaze all the time now. It’s tangy and might be the only glaze I know that doesn’t make me immediately want to brush my teeth. The raspberry flavor is extremely strong and that is exactly what I wanted.

It’s also beautiful, truly.

So pretty. Great color, just glossy enough, spread like a dream with enough time to fuss with it before it set.

You can, if you prefer, go with the original powdered variation—we’ll put it in the recipe notes—or another glaze of your choice. (Our mom instantly suggested maple.) Like a box of assorted doughnuts, there’s an option for everyone.

A well-decorated side table with a pink-glazed cake resting on a cake stand. The cake has the shape of the state of Oregon on the top in white sprinkles.
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Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce

A white cake studded with bright red cranberries and coated in butter sauce, with a bite taken out of it

Jordan: Oh man, what a year.

Kitra: Y I K E S

Do we actually need to say anything about 2020?

N O P E

Great. Moving on.

Cake!

We make this cake pretty much every year. It’s a good cake!

Tradition cakes are good, but they’re better when you pour hot sweet butter over them.

This is a very simple white cake with beautiful pockets of cranberry. It’s simple, not outrageously sweet, and—most importantly—is a great vessel for butter sauce. (Which is the less disconcerting name for “hot sweet butter.”)

Basically, it’s an antidote to the complicated winter foods. You toss it all in the mixer and then bake it in a rectangle.

We see your yule logs and frosted bundts and raise you a one-bowl sheet cake.

It takes as long to make as the oven takes to preheat, and there is truly no more easily transported cake. Gift it! Leave some on a doorstep! Put a lid on your pan and cut slices off for days on end!

If you truly want to eat this in the traditional fashion, that last one is the way to do it.

I eat mine sliced in half horizontally with the sauce over them, and treat it as a breakfast/lunch/snacking cake.

More surface area = more butter sauce.

I’m usually staunchly anti fresh fruit in cakes, but this is my exception. Cranberries are self-contained in a way that most fruit is not, so they don’t make everything mushy and gross or wind up flavorless husks. They stay pretty, and are a great fresh burst of tartness. I love them in this.

Cranberries are strongly underutilized in their non-jellied forms, honestly. And while this is a great Christmas cake, it’s also a great New Year’s Eve cake. Or a great “I want to make cake but it needs to include fruit for the people around me who are on ‘diets’” cake.

Is it though? Because again, B U T T E R   S A U C E.

This is like the time my roommate did the “Master Cleanse” (where you only have lemon water and cayenne pepper) and one day in I made brownies and she gave up. You’ve got to have some sort of an in to get people back on your side, and here the “in” is fruit and the “side” is eating cake.

Can you tell we’re… not really diet people? Happy New Year, I will serve this year with butter sauce.

Last year we set the goal of “do less” for 2020.

In many ways, I feel like we did that. I work from my couch now and haven’t worn mascara since March. But also we did more of things that are good! And we worried more, probably. Whatever, this year was a whole lot and I refuse to judge anyone for it.

Look, in 2021, just do what makes you happy. If you really want to diet? Sure, whatever. Do it, but promise you’ll stop if it makes you miserable.

What makes me happy? B U T T E R   S A U C E.

Life is not a binary choice between Master Cleanse and butter sauce. It’s a spectrum, and somewhere in there is the spot that’s best for you. In 2021, we hope you find that spot.

A white cake studded with bright red cranberries and coated in butter sauce
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Almond Pear Tart and Other Thanksgiving Pies

Top-down image of an almond tart with whole sliced pears baked into it

Jordan: Well, here we are. Another Pie Month has come and gone before we knew it.

Kitra: *quiet sobs heard throughout the town square*

Look, we know that giving you a bunch of pie recipes after Thanksgiving seems counterintuitive, but hopefully last week reminded you how much you love pie.

Plus it’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s pies! (pies! Pies! Pies! PIES!)

We may put pies front and center in November, but there’s never a wrong time for pies. These pies are just as delicious on December 1 as they are on November 30.

Christmas pie! Guy Fawkes Day Pie! Arbor Day pie! Tuesday pie! Birthday pie! Bored pie! Feelings pie! Tired pie! Wired pie! Galaxy brain pie! Wednesday pie (like Tuesday pie, the sequel)! Pie is good for every day ever and I will fight you.

“Pie is good for every day ever and I will fight you”: The true meaning of Pie Month.

Also, a likely first line of my obituary for when someone takes me up on that challenge.

It’s fine, just throw a pie at them and run.

Street fight pie! There! Is! A! Pie! For! Every! Occasion!

Before Kitra uses up our weekly allotment of exclamation marks, let’s talk about these pies in particular.

Okay sure. So, generally we make many pies for not many people and this year was no different. Except technically I made these all myself and 3/10 would not recommend the dishes. 12/10 would recommend the pies.

We did a virtual Thanksgiving, so Kitra made three pies, our mom and I made a bunch of non-pie food, and then we swapped portions of each and ate it all while on a Google Meet call. While I was quite pleased with my mashed potatoes, the pies were (as usual) the highlight.

Also, the primary leftover. I’ve eaten pie 2-3 times a day for 3 days now.

Same here, no ragrets.

Breakfast: Cranberry orange pie. It’s got fruit and dairy, isn’t too sweet, and doesn’t make me want to take a nap after. Lunch: Apple butterscotch pie. Fruit! Pudding! What else do I need to say, it’s like the lunchbox of dreams. Dessert: Almond pear tart. Sweet, classy, makes me sleepy.

I have eaten all three at all times of day with no complaint, but the cranberry orange one does indeed make quite a nice breakfast.

The great thing about making lots of pies that are all very good? You can enjoy them in different ways and to different degrees. There’s no pie here I wouldn’t eat again but I think my ranking goes cranberry, apple, pear.

Let’s say you, for some reason, only want to make one pie. Maybe three crusts, two cooked fruit fillings, a cheesecake filling, poached pears, frangipane, a pudding, and whipped cream sounds like a project for someone incredibly brave or incredibly foolish.

(I was both of those people. Brave about the horrors I was going to put my hands through washing that many dishes, foolish because I forgot to put on shoes or otherwise make standing on tile for 12 hours hurt less.)

If that’s the case, which pie should you pick? Well, the cranberry orange is bright and spunky, but balanced. It has a crumb crust (my favorite kind of crust) made of Biscoff. It contains multitudes.

If you’re the type of person who likes the idea of pie but gets hung up on the overwhelming sweetness, this is for you! (Jordan has suggested that I assign these astrological profiles, which is something I know very little about and am doing only based on gut feeling. So, Aries, I guess.)

The apple butterscotch is sweet, but not cloying. Imagine a very thin apple pie, with a layer of perfect butterscotch pudding and just-barely-sweetened whipped cream. This is your smooth, dreamy pie.

If you are the type of person who loves fruit and custard pies equally, and also is a little extra, make this one! (Gemini, clearly. Even I know that.)

Finally, the almond pear tart. A soft cookie-like crust, tender almond filling, and lovely poached pears. It’s subdued, but delicious. It feels very French and elegant.

If you’re the type of person who really likes steps, is well-organized, and loves amazing smelling kitchens—or just really likes almonds or the French—come collect your pie! This pie is a Virgo and I feel pretty good about that one. (I am a Apple Butterscotch moon and Pear Tart rising.)

We’ve written up the almond pear tart below. The other two are both from The Book on Pie, Kitra’s new favorite cookbook (and the source of the cheesecake pie we shared earlier this month). You can find the apple butterscotch pie recipe on Cloudy Kitchen and the cranberry orange pie was reprinted by Wisconsin Public Radio. We used a Biscoff/speculoos cookie crumb crust for the cranberry orange pie instead of a standard pie crust.

Though pie month is technically over, it’s always pie month in my heart and in my kitchen.

Three large slices of pie arranged on a plate like a literal pie chart.
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Candy Cake

A top-down picture of a pile of chopped chocolate-nougat candies on top of a puddle of dulce de leche, on top of chocolate frosting, on a wooden cake stand on a different wooden table.

Kitra: I have never been a Halloween person. I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve generally found it to be at best an inconvenience.

Jordan: I’m sure you’re holding in a number of opinions about it.

I AM.

  1. Costumes are not worth it. Ever.
  2. “Spoopy” is the worst made up nonsense word and I hate it.

Counterpoint: Bluebs.

Fair. I’ll continue.

  1. Who even are all of you on twitter now
  2. It’s dark at 6:30, I’m tired of rounding corners only to come face to face with a shadowy figure that turns out to be a decoration.
  3. It’s a drinking holiday, which are always bad and should be ended.
  4. Usually, it’s a weeknight and everyone is tired and mean the next day, and I don’t get the right amount of sleep that night.
  5. Pressure to have fun: the real problem with all holidays.
  6. No one ever knows what anyone is dressed as, and it is a straight bummer for all involved.
  7. Somehow this is a fireworks holiday too???? IDK
  8. People should not knock on doors ever, I have a terrier and she hates it.
  9. No one has ever invited me to a Halloween party and I personally am bummed out by that.

I mean, points 1 through 10 suggest that they would have very good reasons to think you’d be uninterested.

  1. Re: No. 11: I also don’t get to say “I can’t go because it’s also MY BIRTHDAY WHICH YOU FORGOT AGAIN, but you sure could make that costume 3 months out thanks” which is really pent up in my spirit for many, many people I’ve known.

Oh no, this was not supposed to be a sad blog post, I’m sorry I led us here.

  1. I don’t like scary things.
  2. Most of the candy is bad, no one likes Jolly Ranchers.

I feel like you added an extra one specifically so that you didn’t have 13 points there.

Surprisingly, I have no problem with 13. It’s always been my favorite number.

Sure.

However, my current neighborhood has changed my animosity these past few years. While I’m still not into “Halloween” per se, I am into 500 teeny tiny children cramming into the front gate of my yard for a mini Snickers (no knocking, I just sit on the steps). It’s adorable. And it gives me an excuse to have some friends over for snacks and to help make the 100 CVS runs as all the candy disappears. This year, however, there will be no trick-or-treaters coming around, and I have no excuse to buy 50lbs of candy.

Look, we don’t have a way to make Halloween fun this year.

Again: It is never fun, see above.

We cannot wave our magic princess/witch/princess-witch wands and make it safe to send children wandering the neighborhood. But we can help you with the candy thing.

Previously, we’ve focused on the vibes of a Halloween cake. This year, it’s about the candy. Yay! Candy!

Shockingly, despite the inclusion of literal candy in this, it’s not the most horrifyingly sweet cake we’ve made. It’s not even the most horrifyingly sweet Halloween cake we’ve made—that honor goes to the cake that was covered in yogurt-pretzel ghosts.

Frosting: Tangy. Cake: Soft and lovely. Dulche de Leche: Yes. Candy: Chopped and shoved in there thank you very much.

You might be tempted to swap in a standard chocolate fudge frosting, but don’t give into that temptation. The sour cream frosting is the perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the rest of it.

Since this year, you’ll be free from many of the horrors of this holiday, it’s a great time to redirect the extra energy you would usually spend sewing a costume or shoving your drunk friend into a car after they get into it with someone dressed as a giant hotdog. May I suggest cake as an outlet?

And hey, it’s a small cake, but it’s still big enough to share. If the spirit moves you (no pun intended), you might invite a few friends over to have some socially distanced dessert, costumes completely optional.

A small three-tier caramel cake with dulce de leche and candy chunks in between the layers and chocolate frosting on the outside, all resting on a wooden cake stand. A slice of the cake is on a plate next to it.
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Black Forest Cake

A chocolate cake with black cherry whipped cream, with a slice cut out and sitting on a plate with two forks.

Jordan: Let’s start by talking about what this cake is not. This cake is NOT made of beans.

Kitra: This cake does NOT taste like beans beans and nothing but beans.

Gif of James Corden and Emily Blunt in "Into the Woods" saying "Beans?" and looking concerned

BEANS.

BEANS.

This is all to say that we started our last Cake Day by trying to make a white bean cake, which we will not link because a) we don’t want you to even think about attempting it, and b) I kind of feel bad for it? Someone loved it! There was at least one enthusiastic comment! It’s not the cake’s fault that we thought it tasted like warm sweet bean dip.

It… kind of is though. It was a pile of beans trying to be something it had no right to be, and I resent it for that.

I think you mean “no right to beans.”

I DO.

Anyway. Once we’d thrown out the bean cake, we felt like we ought to make something of the day (other than 150 groundhogs, which we cannot share here because it is Kitra’s one sacred secret recipe), so we turned to Julia Turshen.

I finally got a copy of Now & Again, and I love it so much. I read every word, cover to cover, and also I want to eat my way through the whole thing. (Not literally though, because paper is probably almost as hard to eat as solidified sweet bean mush.)

This is her take on a black forest cake, which checked a lot of the boxes we were looking for. Relatively simple! Gluten-free! Not too sweet! Kitra refused my modifications that would have made it a one-bowl process, which is probably for the best.

If we failed at two cakes in one day, we’d have to rename this blog “Meh Cake Trash.”

Fortunately, I listened to Kitra and this cake was not! trash!

AND, I had the brilliant idea to flavor the topping when our black cherry juice powder turned out to taste like pretty much nothing. While Jello is terrible in general (Watery! Gross texture! Slimy! Transparent in a way that is TROUBLING for a food! WATERY!), it is great for 2 things. 1.) Stabilizing whipped cream and 2.) Drinking hot like cocoa. Seriously. Try it.

(Let it be known that Kitra’s attitude toward all other forms of Jello is not endorsed by all members of the Yay Cake Day editorial board.)

I have some fancy cherries in my fridge right now, but let’s be honest, Jello is easier to find and it allows this topping to do two things at once. I will accept my Nobel prize now, thank you.

As for the cake itself, it is a very chocolatey chocolate cake. The phrase “not for the faint of heart” is overused in food writing, but seriously, start with a small piece and work your way up.

The whole situation is so cute, also. I love a cake that slouches, and it’s wearing a pink hat! What a good little cake!

This is a lovely cake for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, or to bring to the office for platonic Valentine’s Day, or to make for yourself and eat in small slices while binge-watching something on Netflix this weekend. Or just for a random day when you feel like you could use some cake.

A chocolate cake with black cherry whipped cream, and some cute string lights in the background.
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White Cake with Rich Chocolate Frosting

A  slice of white cake with chocolate frosting in front of the remaining cake

Jordan: This cake is a New Year’s Eve cake, but we hope it will set the stage for 2020. It’s a simple black-and-white cake, which fits perfectly with a great goal for the new year: Do less.

Kitra: For many of us, I think I can safely say that in 2019 we did TOO MUCH. Tried too hard, worked too hard, and didn’t enjoy the small stuff enough. Like a really good frosting and a moist cake. (Or like cancelling plans, which is the true meaning of Christmas.)

This is not to say that doing and caring about things doesn’t matter, but that it’s important to actually consider the things you’re doing and caring about. Some things, for example, that are not worth giving your time and energy:

  • Having your oven clock be correct down to the second
  • What the people who work at Sephora think about you when you’re not wearing makeup
  • The right exact shade of purple you want that thing to be
  • “Detoxing”
  • That pile of unopened mail that you carefully hide whenever someone is coming over
  • Plastic straws, both the use and disuse thereof
  • Wearing 2 different colors of denim
  • Trying to sell the clothes that have been in the “to get rid of” pile for years when you could just donate them
  • If you’re “allowed” to wear hats
  • What your ex’s new girlfriend will think if she sees you across the room at a party
  • Whether that stranger’s dog likes you (maybe, that dog is a dick. It’s rare, but happens.)
  • “Guilty pleasure” music, unless it’s made by actual criminals/terrible people
  • Hanging up that clean laundry tonight, because it’s midnight and you want to sleep
  • How other people organize their books
  • How white your teeth are
  • Whether other people give enough/too much attention, in your view, to sports, celebrities, and/or astrology
  • The heat death of the universe. You’ll be here or you (presumably) won’t. Who cares! Unless you work for NASA, chill out buddy.

And, for our purposes here: Making every cake a beautiful three-tier masterpiece.

If you put enough candles in it, or sprinkles on it, any cake can look astonishingly festive. In 2020, just throw some sprinkles on a sheet cake and call it a day. (Or don’t throw them, because I constantly remind Jordan that they don’t magically stick 90% of the time. But use them.)

(Sprinkles are just edible confetti, throw them if you want to throw them. But be aware they do bounce off of cake sides, just FYI.)

If you’re looking for a cake to sprinkle, this is a good one!

IT’S SO FLUFFY.

This is truly an answer to the boxed white cakes of everyone’s childhoods.

It’s like the crappy sheet cake you get at a second-grader’s birthday party, but delicious. I don’t think I realized that white cake could taste this good.

We were both pretty surprised. It looks amazing, tastes amazing, and cuts BEAUTIFULLY. You know how sometimes it’s just hard to get perfect slices? Not here, Buster.

We used Black Onyx cocoa powder, which makes the frosting taste like an Oreo and makes it extra-dark. Even with regular cocoa, however, it will still be deliciously chocolatey and not too overwhelmingly sweet.

This cake is simple, but it looks so regal. It’s black-tie ready. So white and fluffy! So black and fluffy! It’s the feather boa of cakes, but awesome and not constantly flying into your mouth when you aren’t prepared! Only when you are prepared. Because you’re eating.

Basically, it’s a cake that will make people happy without you having to slave away in the kitchen. Which is exactly the kind of cake 2020 needs.

A cake with chocolate frosting, large white sprinkles, and many glittery star-shaped candles
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Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake

Maple buttermilk pie, pumpkin chocolate cheesecake, and spiced pear pie

Jordan: Pie Month is technically over, but with Thanksgiving so late in November, we didn’t have a chance to share our holiday desserts with you, and it seems a shame to hold onto these for a full year.

Kitra: Plus, it’s always pie month in our hearts.

And cheesecake is a perfect transition recipe, since no one really knows how to classify it.

I’ve been making pumpkin chocolate cheesecake bars for yearsssssss.

Way way back in the day, Kitra used to get daily Better Homes & Gardens emails to our shared email account, and this came from that phase.

See also that blueberry charmer from a while back.

There were also what must have been monthly batches of lemon rosemary cupcakes… but the pumpkin chocolate cheesecake bars were the highlight.

And it seemed like there was real potential to make them flashier. They’ve already got three layers, but in a bar it’s kind of hard to tell. So why not magnify the whole thing!

Besides, cheesecake bars—while convenient—don’t have that show-stopping Thanksgiving dessert vibe that a full-sized cheesecake does.

Plus, we wanted to keep our forks working their full-tine jobs. (This joke killed me, and Jordan hates it. You decide.)

We also made two other pies for Thanksgiving. (Yes, we only had six people and two of them were children, this is a perfectly acceptable pie-to-person ratio.)

We hit the three categories of Thanksgiving pie: Orange, fruit, wildcard (Nut? Custard? Jello? Whoppers?)

Nothing but a pie tin full of Whoppers. Just like grandma used to make!

That was an autocorrect that we ran with. Anyway.

Our fruit pie was a pear version of Molly Yeh’s hawaij apple pie, which I liked but Kitra found too imperfect to share on the blog. (Though let’s all appreciate the beautiful pie crust braids she did on the top of that one.)

I’d recommend the pie we made last year if you’re looking for a spiced pear pie.

The other pie was a maple buttermilk custard pie from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds cookbook. It reminded me of the period where I ate maple-yogurt overnight oats for breakfast every day, in the best possible way. Mapley and tangy and very simple to put together.

It was delightful, but we just made my ideal custard pie so anything else was going to be a bit of a letdown. Also, I just have something against sour cream.

Still, if you have the cookbook (or want to try any of the versions floating around other blogs), it’s worth making.

If you’re looking for a dessert that pulls out all the stops for your holiday tables though, look no further than the cheesecake.

Slice of pumpkin chocolate cheesecake
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Slab Pavlova with Roasted Cherries, Berries, and Earl Grey Whipped Cream

Pavlova topped with whipped cream, roasted cherries, and blueberries

Kitra: This post comes to you from the great state of Oregon (est. 1859) and also from the past. More specifically, the Fourth of July.

Jordan: We were visiting our dad in our hometown and wanted something that was gluten-free for him but was also festive, because when you have a cake blog you’re not allowed to let Independence Day pass without doing something red-and-blue. It’s a rule.

We’ve been looking at pavlovas for a while, because Jordan found a technicality that says they count as cake.

It’s not a technicality, it’s Wikipedia! The title of the article is Pavlova (cake). It counts..

And since my favorite dessert is an Eaton mess, which is basically the same thing (albeit less pretty and with wildly different ingredient ratios) I’m an easy sell.

Pavlova, if you’re not familiar with it, is essentially a giant meringue, generally topped with fruit and whipped cream. You can make it in elegant shapes, or you can just go rustic and free-form it.

And when I saw Erin McDowell had a recipe for a slablova, it was so fun to pronounce that we had to go with it.

It’s like slab pie, only instead of rolling out pie crust you’re just throwing a bunch of egg whites and sugar together and forgetting about them in the oven.

Everyone loves a slab pie.

We were also making a roasted cherry sorbet (which we also recommend, so we doubled the cherries and used those as a topping along with blueberries. We also added an Earl Grey whipped cream, because Kitra will never pass up a chance to add tea to something.

And I have no regrets about it. It brings another flavor to the dish, and allows you to cut the sweetness of the Pavlova.

I did find the pavlova itself to be a bit on the sweet side, but I also topped my portion with weird store-bought almond whipped cream. (Don’t ask.) If you’re going with a store-bought whipped cream, first of all don’t do that, but second of all, you’ll want to make sure you use some unsweetened fruit to keep it from being overwhelmingly sweet.

But really, don’t do that. Even an infused whipped cream is so, so easy.

Overall, a nice change of pace and a good dessert for a lazy summer evening in the backyard.

Pavlova topped with whipped cream, roasted cherries, and blueberries
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Almond Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Marzipan Buttercream

heart-cupcakes-1.jpg

Can I start with a rant about Valentine’s Day?

The floor is yours, m’lady.

I’ve long been a supporter of Valentine’s Day, even—or especially—for people who aren’t in a relationship. We as a society put so much emphasis on ~romance~ and finding “The One” and the idea that if you’re not coupled up, you’re somehow less than a full person. Which is, frankly, ridiculous. There are SO MANY WAYS to be a person and only some of them involve finding a single partner, falling in love with them, and spending the rest of your life together.

I suggested cupcakes this week because I think Valentine’s Day should be about all kinds of love. Love for your friends. Love for your family. Love for your cheerful next-door neighbor and for your coworker who shares memes with you on bad days and for your dog. (Just don’t give your dog cupcakes.)

When we were growing up, for Valentine’s Day the THING in our house was to make candy  to bring to school and share with your friends/teachers/whoever you wanted. And as the sister who has been single for literally every Valentine’s Day of her life, that’s my primary association with the day.

(Except that I tend to forget about actual Valentine’s Day, because February 14th is also the day that Oregon became a state and I’m very pumped about that every year. Happy Birthday Oregon!)

To me—and, I suspect, to Kitra too—there aren’t many better ways to show you care than by making something. I loved making handmade Valentines in elementary school, and when I was in college I would send Kitra Valentine’s Day care packages covered in stickers and filled with silly things.

And I love making cookies shaped like Oregon, and a banner… shaped like Oregon. But also yes, bringing food for my friends and laughing at whatever Jordan came up with that year.

These cupcakes are made to be shared, both because it’s Valentine’s Day and it’s nice to share things, but also because they’re delicious. We made this almond cake as a sheet cake back in the pre-blog days, and it’s just as good in a smaller form.

And because we love a good themed decoration, we added raspberries for taste and color. Even though nothing says love like sprinkles—the glitter of the food world—we went with crushed raspberries stenciled into hearts on top because hot damn it’s cute. And tasty.

The frosting is an almond buttercream, and it all works very well together. Make these cupcakes for whoever you love this week, or any week.

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