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Sweets

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Almond cakes, such as financiers (which are technically tiny cakes, but I made a big one), are a tradition in my family.  Our familial almond cake is denser than the above cake, with larger almond chunks, and less sweetness.  It’s baked for birthdays and has a hint of icing on it.  Growing up, I requested pies and cheesecakes as my birthday cakes – I had something against the austerity of our cake.  But now, with my more refined palate, I have grown to love almond cakes in any form.  And this cake competes with our familial cake as my favorite cake for celebrations.

I’ve made this cake before.  In fact, I’ve chronicled making it before on this blog, when I tried to make a gluten free version of it.  It didn’t work.

This time, I accepted the gluten (I love gluten) and also added two new elements to the cake.  The first was a hint of rosewater, added at the end, to round out the flavors in the cake.  The second was some blackberries, added to the cake just before it baked.  The result?  One of the best cakes I’ve made in recent years.

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Ah and so it begins.  The cold is descending upon us, smothering our dreams of spaghetti straps and tan lines with parkas and functional scarves.  Many are fearful this means the end of our fun for the year.  From now on, we must stay inside, forever apart and wrapped in blankets.

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Persephone, wondering if she can leave her cat fort when the temperature dips below 70

I, being from New England, strongly disagree with this sentiment.  I am excited to welcome in fall in the next few weeks and then winter in the coming months.  I am a winter baby and I intend to enjoy the heck out of tights, woolen sweaters, and wintery baked goods.

So, to welcome to new season and to prepare myself for the onslaught of baking that will soon be upon me, I made an apple spiced cake.  It was vaguely reminiscent of the apple cakes my grandmother always used to have freshly made, but with a lot more bourbon.  Although it does remind me to get Gummy’s apple cake recipe from her in short order…

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All photos taken by Zoe Bell, my sister, not the famed stunt woman.

Ahh the holidays.  A time for me to be a complete and total scrooge and say humbug quite frequently.  I also get to bake a lot which is nice but stressful.

My mother and I stayed up until past midnight one night baking cookies.  The next day I spent 40 minutes over a hot stove, grilling brussel sprouts to perfection.

But the pièce de résistance came on new years eve, when I decided to make two fancy, multilayered cakes.  One was a coconut layer cake (my favorite and almost no one else’s), while the other was a white chocolate cake with a lemon curd filling and a grand marnier buttercream.

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These brownies have been an obsession of mine for almost two years, although I never knew if I would be able to recreate them.  The obsession started in Paris (where I just returned to when I went on a whirl wind 6 week adventure around the world) with a little Mexican restaurant called Candelaria.  There, I had the most wonderful, fudgy, chocolaty brownies of my life, and they were filled with black beans.

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I am an introvert.  I enjoy being an introvert.  I like to sit next to my cat and write about food.  I also like to sit next to my cat and read books.  Or watch Arrested Development.  Anything really, as long as its just me and my cat.

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He’s into the sound of silence.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean I don’t like people.  I love them and I have a small number of close friends that I cherish more than anything in the world besides Jethro.  I’m quite happy to spend almost all of my time with them, because being with them, I don’t need to entertain.  I can sit silently or be aggressively chatty or eat more cheese than any of them and it doesn’t matter.

But people I don’t know?  That’s another story.

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Last Friday, my friend Emily turned 22.  Emily is my poet friend.  Literally.  She likes to spend evenings with a glass of wine, writing poems.  We met because we were both interested in The Pop Culture of Early Modern Europe, one of my favorite class topics at Hopkins.  I like witchcraft and charivari and carnivals and all those fun things.  Also my favorite childhood story was called Cat’s Carnival.  Go figure.

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Currently, I have two finals to write and a French essay I should do.  Its my last finals week ever and all I want to do is bake.  Also I want to watch all of Hemlock Grove, the new Netflix series by Eli Roth of Hostel fame.  I’m now 5 episodes in, completely confused, alternately terrified and amused.  The acting is quite bad, the writing is terrible (example: “I don’t have a recall” Don’t you mean recollection Eli Roth??), and its a horror series, not my favorite type.

Maybe I watch it because there’s a Skarsgard in the show.  The youngest Skarsgaard.  Bill Skarsgaard.  His brother plays evil Erik in True Blood.  His father (Stellen Skarsgard) is just a famous actor for a lot of roles.  The youngest Skarsgard looks like a heroin addict (but a beautiful one) and plays someone slightly evil and completely sex obsessed, although it seems he really just likes blood?  I’m not sure.  But he’s very pretty.

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