avocado chocolate chip pound cake

I’m currently studying for my U.S. History exam, and to be honest, it’s a lot of mindless memorization.  The kind of memorization that makes my brain mushy and eyes dizzy.

The one thing that keeps the subject mildly interesting are the diary excerpts that sometimes show up in the DBQ section (document-based essay section).  I recently read an excerpt from a diary of a Lowell factory girl talking about how awful the other girls at the factory were, and how terrible the conditions were in the summer — this humanized the dates and numbers behind the Industrial Revolution; suddenly, history got a lot more interesting.  It’s literally reading someone else’s diary, but in a socially acceptable way.

In this digital age, I’m not penning my thoughts with a quill on parchment, or even scribbling in a fancy-pants moleskine notebook.  But the thought of a diary fascinates me.

In a way, my diary is the Notes section on my iPhone. It’s a lot less romantic than a diary, but just as raw.

I used to get super paranoid when my friends would look at pictures on my phone, for fear that they might stumble across my notes page.  I’m less paranoid now because A) my notes are hidden deep in the depths of my app folders where no one can find them and B) even if you read my notes you wouldn’t be able to figure them out.

To get totally crazy here are the first few notes in my phone, and what (I think) they mean.

“Plan:” (followed by no plan to do anything) ~ classic.

“Gm cherry get cash not target demographic” ~ this was probably written at a dark moment while studying for some test.  I wish I could tell you what this means, but I have no idea. Sounds interesting.

“Bunky” ~ an old man who takes drop-in advanced adult ballet with me.  He wears loafers instead of ballet shoes and, thus can’t point his feet.  He has a faded tattoo that spells “bunky” on one of his arms.

“Write about how good it feels to get your scalp massaged at Hair Cuttery” ~ self-explanatory

These bits of jibberish are pretty important to me.  I am always paranoid about forgetting things — so when some stroke of so-called brilliance hits me, I have to write it down or else I will forget it immediately. Sometimes, I’ll write down something like “avocados are the butter of the Earth.”  Some of these snippets end up being stories I tell to you all, some of them end up being baked into pound cake, most of them remain in the gigabytes of my phone collecting cyber-dust.

Nonetheless, these shards and memories are the good stuff, like the artichoke hearts of life. When I’m rolled over in bed at 2 a.m. furiously typing a note to myself, you best believe it’s important.

With love,
Erica

Avocado Pound Cake

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line and grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

  2. In a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil, avocado and sugar together. 

  3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth, add vanilla extract and beat once more.

  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda. 

  5. Stir into avocado mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and spoon into loaf pan. 

  6. Bake 65 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, slice, and enjoy!

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

rainbow cake

So last week I gave you a little talk about real talk.  Basically, I don’t want to be a confectioners-sugar-dusted-phoney.  That’s why I’ve decided to get crazy with some real-life confessions on here.

Confessions. That’s a scary word.

So here it goes, here’s my first confession.

I like reading Craigslist Personal Ads.

Disclaimer: I would never ever ever in a million years even think about posting an ad on Craigslist (or answer one), but I like to read them.

Yes, some are creepy, some are weird (ex. “I enjoy theatrical-quality tomfoolery”…what), and some are downright fake.  But some are nice.  My favorites are in the “missed connections” forum.

This is where people leave messages hoping to find people they’ve crossed paths with.  There is something less sinister about this forum than the others, no creepy requests, no augmented biographies pleading for a date.  Instead, there’s a sort-of-sad sad sincerity in these posts.

These people couldn’t get a face/aura out of their mind all day, and are now beating themselves up for not saying anything. There is hope and regret intertwined in all of the posts (“I would have talked to you but I was too shy”).  The regret of not seizing the moment, the hope that maybe this little “message in a bottle” (via Craigslist) will miraculously reach that special person.

The sweet, sad thing about this is that 99 times out of 100, these ads are never reciprocated.  That person who was reading Harry Potter 5 on the train is probably back at home, flipping through the pages and eating Lean Cuisine and will never see the post on Craigslist.  But the admirer posts it anyways.

Here’s one I liked:
“I wish I went and sat next to you and said
hello, but obviously I didn’t and here I am posting this note you will
probably never read. Wherever you were going, I hope you got there safe,
and that despite the rain you are having a great day”

I like think about all of the faces I see in a day, and all of the stories, fears, and adventures that lie behind all of those faces. I’m not advocating talking to strangers.  But I guess this should inspire us to seize the
moment and not miss an opportunity to speak to someone.  Yolo?

Anyways, now that I’ve shared something weird about myself with you all, I am going to share this weird cake recipe! It’s super easy, super funky, and will knock all of your friend’s socks off when you serve it.  It looks like an unassuming vanilla cake… and then BAM! Rainbow madness on the inside. Check it out.

With love,
Erica

Rainbow Cake

A beautiful rainbow cake that will surprise everyone with a burst of color upon the first slice. 

Keyword buttercream, cake, dessert, rainbow
Servings 16

Ingredients

  • White cake batter divided (you can use box mix or homemade)
  • Food coloring
  • Your favorite buttercream frosting
  • Rainbow sprinkles!

Instructions

  1. Prepare the cake batter, and then divide into however many colors you would like.
  2. Use food dye to color the batter, use a lot so that the colors turn out really nice and saturated and brilliant.
  3. Drop the batter into a prepared cake pan(s) and bake as normal.
  4. Frost, decorate with sprinkles, and enjoy!

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

tres leches cake!

NOBODY IS LISTENING TO YOU!

And I’m not saying that in a mean way.

When I was in elementary school, my teachers pegged me as “a shy kid.”  Thing is, I was never shy — actually I’ve always been a performer and a little crazypants.  In those elementary school days, I’d often be prancing around the supermarket in a crop top and cat ears proclaiming that I was Josie from Josie and the Pussycats, putting glitter glue on my eyelids (not smart if you ever plan on blinking), or singing Disney princess songs into my mom’s camcorder.  Definitely not a quivering daisy.

I guess this whole predicament started out when one day, I had my head in the clouds and didn’t find it necessary to say stuff.  At the beginning it was fine, I wasn’t lonely or surly.  I was just rolling around the sandbox by myself thinking about things.

But then it got awkward.

People love labeling people.  Oh! You’re the funny kid! Oh, you must be the precocious little genius kid!  Oh hey there, you must be the shy kid.  I learned that once you’re labeled the “shy kid,”  people have all sorts of expectations of you…

People would get this surprised look on their faces whenever I said things, and when people started giving me that look, I stopped saying things.  As you can imaging, this became a vicious cycle.  My teachers didn’t always help.  Teachers seem to like shy kids.  Shy kids don’t break eardrums or break bookcases.  Thus, my teachers would often make an example of me — telling the class to “stop shouting and be more like Erica.”  I would smile, but this was always super awkward.  First, because kids don’t like the kid who they’re told to be like, and second, there was this little girl inside of me who liked to wear purple leopard print and sing “Under the Sea” really loudly in a Jamaican accent who just wasn’t allowed to come out.  Imagine how awkward it would have been if one day I came out of the reading corner singing “Under the Sea” in my Jamaican accent?! I was pretty sure the ceiling would have fallen down. Once people had this expectation of me to be the “quiet” and “behaved” Erica, I stuck to it.

There were times when I thought that I lost that purple leopard print little girl.  I truly believed that I was shy…  and I hated it.  Especially as I got up in elementary school and wanted to be like Sharpay from High School Musical and I wanted boys to like me. In 5th grade, boys don’t like shy girls.  And I believed that I was a shy girl.  I wished I could be like those bubbly girls who crimped their hair and wore glittery nail polish.  Nonetheless, I kept on being the nice little shy girl at school, and then when I got home, I dressed up like a mime and rapped Snoop Dogg while I rode around the house on my Waveboard (did you ever have a Waveboard?).

One day, I was dozing off during assembly.  The assembly was the drama acting out the book Hungry Hungry Caterpillar (who came up with those assemblies?!).  When I came back to my senses, I noticed that the kid who was dressed up as a watermelon slice who just recited his line looked like he was about to puke.  No, he looked worse.  He looked like he was about to get publicly executed.  And you know what I noticed? That I couldn’t have told you what he said if I was offered a million bucks.  That kid was about to poop his pants over something that nobody was listening to at all.

That’s right, I was not paying attention at all, and neither was half of the audience.  It was this realization that helped me “shed my shy kid image.” I realized that every sentence isn’t a matter of life and death, because no one’s really listening anyways.  I realized that the ceiling wouldn’t fall down if I emerged from the reading nook and played dress up.  I realized that no one would care if I pronounced the “g” in “trough” when we read aloud in English class.  I realized that regretting not saying something is much worse than saying something awkward.

Now that I am in high school, I am glad that I had this realization.  Sure, the “shy kid” image is sticky like condensed milk and takes time to wash off, but there have been many opportunities since I witnessed that quivering watermelon that I have spoken up without regrets — and my life has been so much better/less awkward because of it.

Yay for super awkward transitions!  Condensed milk! It’s in Tres Leches cake!  Which is the recipe I’m sharing with you all today!  This cake is super squidgy and moist because you literally pour milk all over it.  I frosted mine with cream cheese frosting for my friend Veda’s birthday because she likes cream cheese frosting.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
Cake:
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk

Sauce:
1 can condensed milk (1 cup-ish)
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Frosting:
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sweetened Shredded Coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and grease it well.  Beat butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides as you go.  Add the vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix until just combined.  Add buttermilk and stir slowly.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Take out of the oven, and mix together the three milks.  Cool the cake for five minutes, and then poke holes all over it with a fork.  Pour the milk all over the cake.  Let cool completely in the fridge for at least an hour. 

Beat together the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer.  Beat in the vanilla.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Frost the cake. 

To make the toasted coconut, add the shredded coconut to a frying pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned.  Sprinkle over cake.

Loosely Adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

easy king cake

Ever since I was young,  I have been disturbed by the concept putting trinkets into cake.  

Yule logs with coins in them, Epiphany cakes with thimbles in them, Mardi Gras king cakes with babies in them (plastic babies).  They’re all a disaster waiting to happen. 
I’m expecting to bite into a soft, sweet, cream cheese laden cake, and then ouch! I just chipped my tooth on a plastic baby Jesus.  How do I know that the “lucky” coin hidden in my slice of yule log wasn’t on the floor of the subway last week… not feelin’ so lucky anymore. Or worse yet, what if someone choked on the thimble in the Epiphany cake? That would be awkward. so.many.issues

The lore behind the Mardi Gras king cake is that the person who gets the slice with the baby wins.  Winning means that they have to host the next King Cake party.  To some that would be a real treat (I would have a field day buying my weight in cream cheese and sanding sugar), others not so much. 
So if last year you were the one to get the slice with the baby in it, were lucky enough not to choke/chip any teeth on him, and you’re not too enthused about whipping up this years king cake, I have the recipe for you.  All this recipe takes is: 1) whacking pressure packed cinnamon rolls on the kitchen counter 2) whipping up some cinnamon-y cream cheese frosting (licking the spoon required) 3) shaking sanding sugar all over the whole thing and making it look all festive.
Easy enough right?

No proofing, zesting, waiting, or (god forbid) kneading.  Just pop, lock ‘n drop it…. not exactly, but you get the point: this recipe is easy. 


Naturally, since it’s made with Pillsbury, it doesn’t taste exactly like the traditional, yeasty sweet bread.  However, it’s absolutely delicious and addictive nonetheless (nobody will complain). It tastes a little bit like sopapilla cheesecake.  If you’ve never heard of sopapilla cheesecake, google it now and prepare to have your life changed.  
All of this being said, I won’t be putting a plastic baby in my king cake, but if you’re into that, by all means do it.  It’s fun and festive and kudos to you for not being a total party-pooper like me with my concerns about sanitary/dental issues.  Just remember to stick the baby in after the cake comes out of the oven (if you put him in before, you’ll end up with a gooey plasticky mess).  
Happy (almost) Mardi Gras to everyone!
And for all of you overachievers out there (or those of you that just like to play with dough), I have a real yeasted king cake recipe coming your way. 
With love, 
Erica

Ingredients

  • 2 cartons Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, 8 Count (12.4 Ounce Cans) — save the containers of icing!
  • 1 8oz. block cream cheese 
  • ½ cups dark brown sugar 
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons purple sanding sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow sanding sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons green sanding sugar
  • 1 dry bean or plastic baby jesus (if you’re into that) 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Take all of the cinnamon rolls out of their containers, and set the frosting containers to the side.  Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll each cinnamon roll into a flat disk (about 4 inches in diameter).  You should end up with 16 rounds.

Arrange 8 of these rounds on a piece of parchment paper, overlapping a bit in a wreath shape.  Press down where they overlap so they stick together.  

Beat together the cream cheese brown sugar and powdered sugar.  Add the cinnamon, and vanilla
extract. Beat well until combined. Drop this mixture by tablespoonful
on the cinnamon rounds that have been sealed into a circle, staying as
close to the center as possible.

Place the remaining 8 cinnamon rounds on top of the filling, overlapping
and sealing the tops and tucking under to seal the sides.

Bake for 17-20 minutes.

Let cake cool for a few minutes (now is when you stick the trinket into the cake). Frost with the Pillsbury Frosting that came with
the rolls. Sprinkle all over with purple, yellow, and green sanding sugar.

Enjoy!

Adapted from So Domesticated

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

orange cranberry pound cake

I’ve noticed that a hot shower feels 100x better than normal when I come inside after a cold and sweaty run, a bag of pretzel sticks tastes amazing when I’m ravenously hungry, and my bed is the most comfortable place in the world after a busy day.  

Actually the last one’s always true… no matter what I did that day.

 What I am trying to say is, contrast makes everything more awesome. 

This adorable pound cake plays upon this awesome concept of contrast.  Sure, a sweet vanilla pound cake is always yummy — but it can get a little boring after the third bite.  This pound cake is the perfect yin-yang balance of tart, zesty, and sweet. (i.e. not boring)

This cake never gets boring because it totally nails the “contrasty” thing.  Fresh cranberries are super tart.  Oranges are fresh and citrusy.  Pound cake is rich and sweet.  Mingle all of these friends together and you have the perfect, totally-not-boring, pound cake.  Pound cake perfection.

This is a great counter-top cake.  You know, the kind of cake to just put on the counter top looking all pretty, and as people walk in and out of the house — mom, dad, the dog walker etc., the cake slowly gets nibbled away.   

And when the glaze hardens and gets all nice and crackly…  Ugh.  I just wanna pour it on everything. 

glaaaaaaaaze

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup vanilla yogurt/plain yogurt/or sour cream
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
zest of one large orange
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup frozen cranberries
1/3 cup orange juice

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat
the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a loaf pan.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger
bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, orange zest, and
vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With
a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter.  Fold in the cranberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake
for about 50 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

While the cake is in the oven, cook the 1/3 cup orange juice
and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and
the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it
to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  While the cake is still warm, pour the orange-sugar
mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

Once cool, carefully remove from the pan.  For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake. 

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

nutella cake

Have you heard about “The Smearing”?
No, it’s not some new horror movie.  I really don’t like horror movies.  



I mean, in the most basic of horror movies (i.e. PSAs about avoiding your basement),  the characters are so asking for it.



If I were home alone and heard screeching/whispering/scratching/bubbling coming from my basement, the absolute last thing I would do is grab a flashlight and “investigate.”  I mean why would I do that when I could just stay above ground level with Pinterest and a big mug of Bohemian Raspberry tea? What’s even worse is when they ask: “anyone there?” I mean, do you really want to know the answer to that question?  Moral of the story, avoid unnecessary confrontation.  Don’t check noises in your basement. 



Now back on topic — if it’s not a new horror movie, what is “The Smearing”

“The Smearing” was a campaign run a long time ago by the Ferrero company in Italy, where kids could bring a slice of bread to their local food store and get a free “smear” of Nutella. I’m patiently waiting for them to bring this service back.  My day will come.

Is there anything in this world better than Nutella? Free Nutella. That’s all. A jar of this smooth, spreadable, chocolate-y brown gold is sold every 2.5 seconds (a baby is born every 8 seconds… do the math).


So to honor Nutella, one of the tastiest things that comes in a jar, I created this cake.  There were no rules, just that it had to be absolutely redonkulous (because Nutella deserves that kind of respect…).

I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the layers (simple, velvety, with a nice cocoa bean-y flavor).  Then things started to get scandalous.  I slathered a thick, generous layer of Nutella between the cake layers, and then covered the whole thing with this dangerous Nutella buttercream (I always make a double batch in case… you know… I get hungry).  While my first layer of frosting was chilling in the fridge, I went to the grocery store and ran up and down the aisles, just whacking every somewhat hazelnutty/chocolate-y thing I saw into my cart (ended up using the Hazelnut Ritter Sport and Ferrero Rocher).  Then I piped some snazzy little Nutella buttercream ripples on the sides, and some big, vanilla rosettes on the top (to class up this monster of a cake).  Finally, I smushed a little baby jar of Nutella in the middle.  And my creation was born. 

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
One, 2-layer batch of chocolate cake (here’s my favorite)
One jar Nutella
One batch of Nutella Buttercream
One batch of Vanilla Buttercream (this recipe without the Oreos)
Ritter Sport/Ferrero Rocher for decorating
melted chocolate for drizzling

Assembly

Place once cake layer onto a cake stand, plate, or cake board.  With an offset spatula, evenly spread a generous amount of Nutella onto the layer.  Place your second layer face down on top of the Nutella filling and place the cake in the fridge for a few moments until it firms up a bit.  Meanwhile, whip up your two buttercreams (if you’re like me and only have one stand mixer, make the vanilla one first so it doesn’t get streaked with Nutella!).

With your offset spatula, carefully smooth a bit of frosting in a thin, even layer over the entire cake (to seal in the crumbs, a.k.a a crumb coat).  Chill again until the frosting is firm (about 15-30 minutes).

Place the cake on a turntable or cake stand.  Using a clean offset spatula, spread the Nutella buttercream in a smooth, even layer over the crumb coat.  To make the “ripple effect” on the sides, fill a large pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip with Nutella buttercream.  Pipe a vertical row of 4 dots about 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter.  Once you have your line of dots, use a spoon to smush down one side of each dot to form a line of petals.  Keep repeating this process until you make your way all around the cake.  For a picture of this technique, click here.

Next, fill a clean piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with the vanilla buttercream.  Pipe big swirls of frosting on top of the cake. Place a Ritter Sport or Ferrero Rocher in the middle of each swirl.  Lastly, drizzle with melted chocolate and enjoy your crazy, Nutella creation!

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.