SUPRISES + SWEETS + SAVORY CHEESECAKE
I’ve always had a penchant for throwing parties— especially themed parties. And although none were too elaborate, I’ve thrown a few surprise parties. It’s always fun to celebrate friends’ birthdays and it’s even better when you can surprise them!
This is Ellie. We’ve known each other since kindergarten. Not only is she one of my best friends, she’s also one of my sorority sisters.
Because we now live in different states and she’s in medical school, we don’t get to see each other nearly as often as I’d like. But for her short summer break, we decided to go on a three-day road trip.
To kick off this road trip, however, I decided to throw her a surprise birthday party the day before we left. Unfortunately she couldn’t arrive until late in the evening so there was much less food, fanfare and friends than originally planned. Read more
Strawberry Mango Shortcake with Coconut Whipped Cream
Welcome to month #2 in my Summer of Strawberry Cake series. Since summer had just begun, last month I shared my recipe for Maple Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Cake but because the weather is heating up, I figured I’d give you a little taste of the tropics for June. Strawberry Mango Shortcake anyone?
Strawberry shortcake is one of my all-time favorite cakes. The crumbly shortcake, the juicy strawberries, the fluffy whipped cream, indescribably good. And I don’t even usually like whipped cream!
Like I mentioned last month, my family only eats strawberry shortcake every few years for my father’s birthday or Father’s Day because he doesn’t like chocolate. Occasionally we’d have fake strawberry shortcake at fundraisers or restaurants— otherwise known strawberries and canned whipped cream on angel food cake or any other kind of vanilla cake.
Strawberries and whipped cream on cake does not a strawberry shortcake make. A proper shortcake is made with a shortened dough resulting in a crumbly, biscuit-like cake. Calling a plain vanilla cake with strawberries a strawberry shortcake is like calling a waffle cone full of ice cream a Belgian waffle à la mode.
But never fear, when I say shortcake, I mean shortcake. And this shortcake happens to be made with puréed mangos for a tropical spin on a classic dessert.
VEGAN GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE W/ SALTED CARAMEL PECAN RIBBON
Do you know what today is?
It’s National German Chocolate Cake Day! And Rose Day at Colonial Park in Franklin, NJ.
(Bet you didn’t guess either of those, did you?)
If you can’t make it out to see the roses, don’t fret— you can still celebrate by baking yourself this twist on a classic German Chocolate Cake.
Running through this lightly sweetened vegan chocolate cake is a ribbon of homemade salted pecan caramel. Sandwiched between the three layers is a gloriously sticky coconut milk frosting along with more caramel, pecans and toasted coconut.
And if that isn’t enough flavor for you, throw in some chocolate chips between the layers and top the cake shards of pecan brittle.
I repeat, glorious.
A word to the wise, don’t line your circle pans with wax paper. It works for carrot cake but not so much for this cake— unless you enjoy scraping wax paper with a variety of sharp implements. Use very well greased parchment paper instead.
Onto the million dollar question…
Did German Chocolate Cake originate in Germany?
IT’S NEVER TOO HOT FOR RAMEN
At Duke Farms and Rai Rai Ramen
So to continue celebrating my father’s birthday, we went for a bike ride, ate peanut butter cake and went out for ramen. It was a three day weekend of fun and food.
If you like bike riding, Duke Farms in Hillsborough has a couple nice trails that are worth checking out. We went a little earlier in the morning before it got too crowded. If riding behind young children isn’t your thing, try to get there before noon.
Although I’ve been to Duke Farms a few times over the years, I’d never taken my bike there. Unfortunately Duke Farms has undergone major downgrades since I last visited, namely the demolition of the iconic Doris Duke Mansion. Learning that the Duke Foundation made this decision, well, it’s quite a loss for New Jersey. I’ll leave it at that.
At least the picturesque waterfalls and small orchid greenhouse remain. And of course, my favorite orchid was the one that smelled like chocolate. Yum.