1. Red Wine Red Velvet Cupcakes (late November): I had recently stumbled upon a recipe for red velvet cake that used red wine as the "red" part. I liked this idea infinitely better than using red food coloring, so I had to try it out. The cake was phenomenal. Not exactly red, but whatever - the red imparts no flavor anyway. This red did, though. The wine gave a slightly boozy flavor, which paired nicely with the cocoa, and the tangy cream cheese frosting smoothly rounded it out. The batch was enormous and made enough to give my yoga friend Colleen a going-away gift (which was appropriate since she was moving to Napa to sell wine), as well as birthday treats for my friends Maggie and Nicole.
2. Thanksgiving: This year I decided I wanted to be a big girl and host Thanksgiving for my family in Chicago. There were twelve of us total, which was quite the undertaking for a first timer. But, I pulled it off. We had maple-bacon roasted turkey; cornbread stuffing with bacon, sage, and caramelized onions; truffle macaroni and cheese; The Palm's creamed Spinach; green beans with candied bacon; and crumble-topped sweet potato casserole, which my mom made. Quite the spread.
|Bacon-wrapping the turkey.|
|(From left) My cousin Courtney and brother Alex.|
|The maple and bacon-soaked stuffing was incredible.|
For dessert, I made a Maple Cream Cheese-Glazed Pumpkin Carrot Bundt Cake and a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. My aunt also made a pumpkin roll and a delicious pumpkin dip with gingerbread chips.
3. Chocolate Cake with Orange-Zested Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Shavings (early December): I made this cake for our CorePower graduation dinner at Uncommon Ground. I tried to make it look like the CorePower bullseye "O" and was fairly successful, until I closed the box top and the static cling picked up the chocolate shavings from the center and scattered them all over the top of the cake :( Regardless, it was enjoyed thoroughly by all, though I question our palates' judgments after so many bottles of celebratory wine. Yes, yogis party, too.
4. Buffalo Wing Cupcakes (late-January): These were a fun experiment for the Super Bowl. I had seen them on the blog Cupcake Project and was very intrigued. The cake struck right between sweet and spicy; it had Frank's Red Hot sauce and blue cheese baked in. The frosting was a blue cheese-cream cheese mixture, only lightly sweetened. And then there was a buffalo wing on top. The overall flavor was good, though somewhat strange to place within the flavor realms we are accustomed to. The balance between sweet, spicy, and salty placed them in the group of other food combinations I find difficult to categorize, such as chicken and waffles. So overall, quite good and interesting, but I don't know if the world needs this new food combination.
5. Blood Orange Ricotta-Mascarpone Cheesecake (early-February): My friends Andrew and Mix, the kings of dinner parties, threw a tapas party in January. Naturally I was really excited, as I had studied abroad in Spain and knew plenty of delicious tapas recipes. However, Andrew threw me a curve ball by asking me to also make dessert. If you are not aware, the Spanish are not well known for their desserts. My host family normally ate fruit for dessert after dinner. When they tried American treats I baked, they thought everything was extremely decadent, which was probably fair as I usually go big or go home, but I also found this indicative of their lack of good desserts as a culture. So I struggled to think of something to make. I wanted to take advantage of the seasonal citrus, and oranges grow in Spain, so I started there. The ricotta-mascarpone cheesecake is most definitely Italian, but whatever - if the Spaniards had their way we'd be eating just oranges or oranges on top of flan, which I absolutely hate.
|Please excuse Ted's hand.|
But even sooner check back for a cake that is absolutely unhealthy and fantastic :)