Life Needs Frosting

I was walking by the [relatively] new Cinnabon on Emek Refaim last week and took a quick glance at their outdoor seating area…

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Yes, Cinnabon, I agree. Life does need frosting.

Here’s a quick recap of some of my [relatively] recents adventures with frosting dessert happiness sweet things.

YOLO is taking Jerusalem by storm. I bought a couple containers of YOLO at the store a while ago because I thought it was hilariously named. When I bought it, I thought it was just a coincidence that the name of this pudding-like dessert cup was the same as the trendy hashtag acronym ‘you only live once’. #YOLO. Hence, why I found this pudding cup humorous.

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Little did I know it was even more funny than I originally thought…

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Not a coincidence. 

Noah and I weren’t a huge fan of YOLO, but it seems to be on quite the marketing campaign as we saw hundreds of YOLOs being handed out for free last week at the Tahana Rishona.

The more exciting “frostings” in my life, however, have come in the form of waffles! I’ve posted about the dessert waffle situation in Israel previously. For those who missed it, basically warm waffles covered in ice cream, whipped cream, and various candy/chocolate/fruity toppings are a popular decadence around these parts. These sorts of waffles can be found on many dessert menus at various restaurants (such as the waffle we had at Landwer), and there are some big chains that focus on waffles (but still serve other foods). One of such chains is Waffle Bar which I talked about in my last post, and the other major chain is Waffle Factory which Noah and I visited more recently:

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I think I liked the waffle at Waffle Factory a little better than the one at Waffle Bar (and Waffle Factory has a really fun menu where you can custom order your waffle by choosing a certain number of components from the ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ toppings categories).

Any waffle covered in sweet sauce and ice cream will most likely be delicious, so I don’t know that there’s too much sense in ranking them….
That said, people still often talk about Babette near Ben Yehuda as being among the top waffle options. It’s a small, independent, one-location shop, and I think those factors contribute to the favoritism over some of the other waffle restaurants.

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Like Waffle Factory, you could choose exactly what you wanted on your waffle at Babette, although you could also select from a menu of suggested waffle-types. The thing that I really liked at Babette is that you could order your waffle ‘half and half,’ meaning two people could share a waffle and each order exactly what they want on their own half. This was particularly good for Noah and me because Noah is more of a fruit person while I’m partial to [as much] chocolate [as possible]. Somehow we manage to stay together. 😉

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This waffle was good but difficult to eat because it did not come on a plate (only the flimsy cardboard sheets that people eat pizza off of here) and the only utensil was a spoon. A+ for waffle quality, C- for ability to not get waffle all over your face.

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Desserts from around the web

I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing dessert to Shabbat meals. This has served as a perfect excuse to make several of the dessert recipes that have been sitting on my ‘sweet things’ Pinterest board for days months years. It’s problematic to make an entire pan of brownies or a cake for myself, so Shabbat is the perfect opportunity to make a mouth-watering dish of sugar-chocolate-sweet-love (take your pick).

Here are a few highlights of desserts made in the last month. I didn’t make up any of the recipes, so I just link directly back to the original recipe source.

I made this flourless chocolate cake from Satisfying Eats. I had a slight mishap because I accidentally bought a can of straight coconut cream as opposed to canned coconut milk, so I had to dilute the cream with water to make it more milky…nonetheless it came out well.

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It may have been my cooking errors, but this wasn’t a cake that held together (don’t expect to eat it with your fingers!). I served it warm and gooey, eaten with spoons. This would be absolutely divine with some vanilla ice cream!

Next up were applesauce brownies from Something Swanky. Although they are advertised as healthy, they do not have ANY of that these-are-brownies-but-taste-sort-of-like-health-food thing going on. They are rich and dense and seriously delicious.

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I made two pans: one topped with chocolate chips and one topped with walnuts. This was my contribution to last week’s Thanksgiving meal. 🙂

While both of the previous two desserts were quite good, this next one is a whole other level. This is a gooey pumpkin spice latte chocolate pudding cake from Oh She Glows. Seriously, the name says it all. This cake is made in an unusual way; You make the batter, pour it into the pan, and then dump some hot coffee on top of it. It will look like something has gone terribly wrong and this will never be anything that tastes good:

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But, somehow, a miracle will occur when you put it into the oven and it will turn into this:

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In my opinion, this recipe was TOP NOTCH. For anyone who likes chocolate or pumpkin or things-that-taste-good, I suggest cooking this ASAP.

And, finally, the biggest crowd-pleaser I made were these oatmeal chocolate chip cheesecake bars from Lovely Little Kitchen. They were a bit labor intensive to make because there were a lot of layers (crust, cheesecake, chocolate topping), but overall it was totally worth it.

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These bars were a HUGE hit. In fact, several people have mentioned them to me again since that meal. So, if you are looking for something that will make people happy, I would suggest this recipe as a good candidate.

And one last food shot of what I’m baking right now….

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No desserts in the oven for this Shabbat, just some good old-fashioned challah. 🙂

 

Avocado Chocolate Cake

Kashrut is a Hebrew word meaning ‘fit’ or ‘proper.’ Although it has several applications in Jewish law, kashrut is most often spoken about in relationship to food and the Jewish dietary laws. To explain the entire system of dietary laws here is a much larger undertaking than I am interested in, so I will VERY briefly sum up the highlights: no pork, no shellfish, no mixing of meat and dairy , and no eating dairy after meat for 1, 3, or 6 hours (depending on who you ask). Due to the prohibition against eating meat and dairy together, traditional Jewish meals are classified as either halavi (dairy) or basari (meat). Restaurants in Israel serve EITHER dairy dishes OR meat dishes, and meals within homes are also given the same classification. Therefore, after being invited to a Shabbat meal and being asked to bring dessert, my first question was, “Is it a meat meal or a dairy meal.” The answer, “Meat.”

No. That does not mean I would be making a dessert with meat in it. It does, however, mean that the dessert cannot contain any dairy products – milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, and other creamy things that often find their way into the end-of-meal deliciousness.

Fear not, dessert lovers, because there is a solution! It’s BIG. It’s green. It’s still creamy:

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Yes. The avocado is the magical replacement ingredient for dairy. While others may be bringing margarine-laden delicacies to Shabbat meals, I am powering my meat-meal dessert with the fatty avocado (a good kind of fat, if you’re interested!).

I decided that I wanted to make a chocolate avocado cake, loosely based on this recipe*see the full recipe for my cake below

First, mix together the dry ingredients of whole wheat flour, white flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda:

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In a separate bowl, mix together melted coconut oil, water, apple cider vinegar, 1 mashed avocado, and white and brown sugar. This will quite possibly look gross. In fact, the one in my kitchen looked quite gross, hence my artistic decision not to include a photograph of this particular step. Don’t worry though, it will still taste great!

After you mix the wet ingredients (as listed above), combine them with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly:

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Pour the batter into a large pan (two small pans would be preferable  – I just didn’t have) and cook for 45 minutes at 350º.

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When the cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for about 30 minutes. While you’re waiting…make the frosting!

Combine two cups powdered sugar with cocoa powder and cinnamon:

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Add (another) mashed avocado to the mix and stir until the frosting takes on an even consistency:

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Once the cake sufficiently cools, you can layer and frost it! Since I had only the large pan to cook in, I ended up cutting the cake in half and making layers that way. If you have two pans, I have no doubt that would be much easier!

Full cake (with avocado flecks – don’t be scared of the green!):

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Half cake (otherwise known as the first layer):

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Frosting and layers:

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Yummmmm

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Tell your guests that the green bits are actually delicious. And that it’s healthy. And no one will care. Or, just get a food processor. 😉

Ingredients
For the cake:
- 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 3/4cups water
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
For the frosting:
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
 Method
 - for the cake, combine cocoa powder, flours, cinnamon, baking 
powder, and baking soda in a large bowl
- separately, combine coconut oil, water, apple cider vinegar, 
mashed avocado, and sugars
- add the wet ingredients to the dry, transfer to a pan and cook
for 45 minutes at 350º
 - as cake cooks, make frosting by combining all ingredients
and stirring thoroughly until smooth
- allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting

A Final Note on Passover

Even though Passover ended last Tuesday night, I still have a few more recipes and dishes I want to share from the holiday. I already posted about matzah granola, charoset, brisket and tsimmes. Here a few more delicious recipes to round out the holiday…

Spaghetti Squash Kugel

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I used this recipe and it was delicious! This side dish takes a little extra time because you have to bake the spaghetti squash first, but with a little planning ahead it’s quite simple.

Matzah Pizza

A Passover classic, matzah pizza is quick, simple, and the pie with the crunchiest crust (harhar).

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Our matzah pizza used a very light layer of marinara, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh sliced mozzarella.

Matzah Pie

Another classic, matzah pie is pretty much like matzah lasagna. I found inspiration for the recipe from this great cookbook I discovered last year through Noah’s mom:

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Like lasagna, you can stuff matzah pie with pretty much whatever you want. The cookbook had a recipe for a spinach and tomato matzah pie, but I modified and made something with dandelion greens, onion, tomato, tuna, and havarti cheese.
*full recipe below

First, take 3 slices of matzah and soak in warm water for three minutes. While the matzah soaks, saute 1/2 onion with 2 cloves minced garlic, half bunch dandelion greens, one can diced tomatoes, and one can tuna.

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When the matzah has soaked, remove it from the water and pat it dry. Then beat two eggs and dip a piece of matzah into the eggs (similar to french toast).

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Lay the egg-dipped matzah in the bottom of a casserole pan:

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Layer the vegetable and tuna mixture on top followed by shredded havarti cheese (you will need 6oz. shredded in total):

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Repeat this process again, ending with a final layer of matzah and cheese. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted:

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Tuna Vegetable Matzah Pie, serves 4-6
Ingredients
 - three pieces matzah
 - two eggs
 - 6 oz. havarti cheese, shredded
 - 1/2 onion
 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
 - 1, 15oz. can crushed tomatoes
 - 1/2 bunch dandelion greens
 - 1, 6oz. can tuna
 Method
 - soak the matzah in warm water for three minutes. Then set on a plate over
 paper towels to dry
 - saute chopped onion and garlic in olive oil
 - when onion starts to color, add chopped dandelion greens, tomatoes (with sauce),
 and drained tuna
 - cook until greens wilt
 - beat the eggs and dip a piece of matzah into the egg, coating on both sides
 - place the egg-dipped matzah piece on the bottom of a casserole dish
 - layer half of the vegetable-tuna mixture on top of the matzah and 1/3 of the cheese
 - repeat this step and then finish with the final piece of matzah and 1/3 of the cheese
 - bake for 30 minutes at 350º

Matzah Toffee

And finally, what’s Passover without some sort of dessert?! Like the granola recipe, this toffee came from Martha Stewart.

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The toffee was crunchy, chocolatey, and delicious…although perhaps a bit heavy on the butter. Nonetheless, it was a big hit with friends I had over for a Passover dinner.

Which brings me to the final point…Passover food can be yummy, but it is best enjoyed in the company of others. 🙂

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More of It

I once heard that a way to remember which one is desert:

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and which one is dessert:

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is by simply remembering that dessert is the one with two s’s because you want more of it. Um, yes, I usually would like more dessert. How did you know?!

In the recent past I’ve had the pleasure of visiting two Twin Cities dessert joints.

The first was Lynden’s Soda Fountain in St. Paul. 

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Lynden’s is an old-fashioned joint, offering sodas, ice cream, and candies in the style of a true 1950s soda shop.

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I went with a friend, and we both ordered sundaes. I ordered zoreo ice cream (dark chocolate zanzibar ice cream mixed with marshmallow swirls and oreo pieces) topped with hot fudge, and my friend ordered yippie skippie ice cream (peanut butter ice cream with chocolate covered pretzels) topped with peanut butter drizzle and oreos:

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Yum!

The second dessert joint I visited was Glam Doll Donuts

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Glam Doll is in Minneapolis on Nicollet and 26th, and is far from your average donut shop. It’s flirty, a little bit risque, and designed in the vintage style. And you will find much more than old fashioned with glaze. The donuts come in both classic and inventive varieties (peanut butter and sriracha, anyone?), and the selection changes slightly each day.

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I went with a friend and split two: a starlet with chocolate icing and sprinkles (who can resist a classic?) and the bombshell (spiced mexican chocolate and cayenne pepper):

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The donuts were very good, but donuts have never been a favorite for me, so I don’t think I will be rushing back here any time soon. For any donut enthusiasts though, this is a must-visit.

Stella’s Fish Cafe

Even though I live only a few blocks from Stella’s Fish Cafe, I’ve never been there for a meal. One time I went for an event that offered appetizers (where I consumed a record-breaking amount of hummus and fish fingers), but I had yet to go for the sit-down-and-be-served experience. I like fish a lot, but for some reason fish restaurants are never on my radar when I’m thinking about places to eat out. I guess I’m too focused on burgers and pizza. Ummm, what?

Anyways…I finally went to Stella’s for dinner a few days ago. Since it is an A-plus beautiful summer, we sat on their rooftop. I liked that the rooftop tables had umbrellas, letting me enjoy the sunshine without getting sunburned.

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The table started with salads:

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And I ordered the red snapper special for my entree:

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It came with roasted potatoes and a corn/zucchini salad. Others ordered pasta with shrimp and the swordfish with asparagus:

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Everything was fresh and delicious! We decided to order dessert. WARNING: the desserts are humongous! The menu didn’t say anything about size, so we each ordered one. One probably would have been enough for the whole table though. We ordered red velvet cake, coconut cake, and creme brule:

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Needless to say, there was a lot leftover!

Stella’s was very good, and if you’re a big fish or seafood fan, then I would definitely give it a high recommendation.

Laramie Food

A few weeks ago I visited my wonderful family in the great western town of Laramie, Wyoming. Highlights from the visit home:

  • spending time with a fabulous mother, father, and brother
  • enjoying the unbridled affection of a certain labradoodle
  • enjoying the sleepy indifference of a beloved yellow lab
  • 16-mile bike ride heading towards the mountains
  • favorite restaurants

Going home always makes me feel like there’s just not enough time to fit in all of my favorite restaurants and at-home meals. During this latest visit, two restaurants made the cut. The first: Altitude Chophouse and Brewery.

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One of Laramie’s finer eating establishments, Altitude almost always has a wait. After a little confusion as to where we could be seated, we got a table and ordered quickly. Our choices: burgers (with waffle-cut fries, of course!) and a vegetable pizza.

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Delicious. As usual. 🙂

The second restaurant we ate at during my visit was Jeffrey’s Bistro. My obsession with this restaurant started during my sophomore year of high school. Yes, obsession was the right word to use in that sentence. Why? It’s a simple answer: tortilla soup Tuesday. This is not your grandmother’s tortilla soup (if your grandmother even makes such a thing). This soup is creamy, tomato-y, topped with melted cheese and tortilla strips, served with warmed wheat rolls, and has the most unparalleled taste of comfort I have ever experienced. Hyperbole, you ask? No way. GO TO JEFFREY’S ON A TUESDAY AND TRY THIS SOUP. You will see what I mean. 🙂

Starting during my sophomore year of high school, myself and a group of about 20 others went to Jeffrey’s every Tuesday for lunch. Sometimes our bowls would even be waiting when we arrived. 🙂 Often times, I would go back for dinner and get it again that night. Sometimes I would go after school to get it again as a snack before sports practice. Like I said, obsession.

Anyway…unfortunately, I was not back in Laramie on a Tuesday, so there was no tortilla soup in my life during this visit. Outside of the tortilla soup, Jeffrey’s is still top-notch with several delicious menu items (and their desserts are phenomenal!). We ordered marsala chicken with apples and sage, Asian-glazed halibut, and the Thai burrito.

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The thai burrito was my order, and it was tilapia, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and spicy thai sauce. It came with refried black beans and brown rice.

As I mentioned before, although the food is great, dessert can really steal the show at Jeffrey’s. All of the desserts are homemade (including the ice cream), creative, and deliriously delicious. We ordered a health bar mousse torte (which was milk chocolate homemade ice cream layered with heath bar bites) as well as a blackberry crisp.

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In case you couldn’t tell, my visit home was definitely a food success. Thanks, Mom and Pop! ❤