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.

sex in a pan

Did I catch your attention? Good.
This is a sinfully decadent, sinfully easy dessert with a sinfully rewarding response.

It’s not the daintiest, nor the prettiest. As a matter of fact, it’s basically a hot mess in a pan.
But you know what? Despite it’s frightening appearance, people just can’t keep their hands off of it.
I made this for the first time for my school’s Winter Sports Banquet.  In the morning, I put it in the fridge, all wrapped up in foil with a big sign saying DO NOT EAT…

When I came back to get it for the banquet, some sneaky little devil had eaten half the pan.  I wonder who it was…
Was it the P.E. teacher, trying to get his chocolate fix before he had to teach another period of freshman Health?
Was it the librarian, trying to drown her sorrows due to the fact that no one checks out anything but textbooks anymore?
Was it that “innocent” little freshman boy from Baking club?
I’ll never know…

However, what I do know is that sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
I served this hot little (half-eaten) mess at the sports banquet and it was a hit.  I love telling people what it’s called — talk about a conversation starter 😉 Plus, the intrigue gets people jumping at the chance to try this naughty little dessert without even knowing what it is!

Speaking of going with the flow, I did a little bit of improvisation while making this.  My chocolate pudding was a gummy mess, so I left it out and added a layer of my favorite chocolate-hazelnut cookies instead.  There’s nothing that two tubs of Cool Whip can’t fix ;).

You could make homemade whipped cream and pudding if that floats your boat — but personally, this is one of the few instances where I prefer instant.  It just adds to the naughty, decadent nature of this recipe.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 cup pecans, chopped

3 tbsp white sugar

1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 cup flour

Cream cheese layer

1 8 oz package cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar (use 1/2 cup for less sweetness)

1 cup whipped cream or cool whip

Vanilla Cream Layer
1 package of instant vanilla pudding (5.1 oz or 144 g)

3 cups milk (use 2 cups if you want a firmer pudding)

Chocolate Hazelnut Pirouette Cookies (crushed)
2 cups whipped cream or cool whip
Cocoa Powder

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a mixer mix all the crust ingredients together and press the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake it for about 20 minutes.
  5. Prepare the vanilla pudding as per the instructions on the package.
  6. In a mixer add the cream cheese, powdered sugar and the cup of whipped cream. Mix until light and fluffy.
  7. Let
    the crust cool. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the crust evenly.
    Spread the vanilla pudding over the bottom crust. Sprinkle with crushed pirouette cookies Top with the whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder.
  8. Refrigerate for a couple hours so that it sets.

Adapted from Jo Cooks

© 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.

vanilla bean ricotta donuts

This is the ideal brunch recipe.  When you’re lazy, sleepy, and expected to whip up a storm, these come together in one bowl, and are done and dusted within 20 minutes.  Unlike Aunt Jemima’s, these emerge from the kitchen to ohhs and ahhhs.  Plus they look oh-so-elegant when served with chocolate sauce and lemon wedges.





I imagine whipping these up on a hazy Sunday morning, wearing an adorable, little striped robe and sheepskin slippers.  There would be sunflowers on my windowsill in a little glass vase.
There would be frothy lattes in Antropologie teacups and music would be playing from a creaky record player.  I’d sprinkle these with powdered sugar, and the air would smell like lemons and vanilla. 



I know these kinds of things exist somewhere, I’ve seen them on Pinterest. 



But in reality, I don’t own an adorable striped robe, nor a creaky record player. In reality, I don’t have jars of sunflowers on my kitchen window sill, rather, I have half a batch of buttercream leftover from my attempt at making a s’mores flavored cupcake. 
 
In reality, I eat these on Tuesday afternoons standing up at the kitchen counter. With a jar on honey in one hand, and my iPhone in the other. 
In reality, I am wearing my dad’s “Old Guys Rule” shirt. 

It’s OK. No problem-o.  Life’s not supposed to happen like it does on Pinterest. 
No one in their right mind has the energy to go pick sunflowers before their first mug of coffee.  Life’s not supposed to be that sensible. I burned my mouth four times eating donut balls that were too fresh from the pot.  Did I learn my lesson? No. I’d totally do it all over again.  See? Nonsensical.
  
I guess life’s kind of nonsensical like that.  It’s messy, fun, and sweet… kind of like these sinfully quick, deep-fried balls of dough dunked in honey. 


With love, 
Erica  





P.S.
If you do happen to have an adorable, little striped robe and a creaky record player, I respect you.

http://blog.nuji.com/


Ingredients
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
8 oz (1/2 lb) ricotta, whole or skim
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Canola oil, for frying (or another oil with a high smoke point)
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Deep-fry thermometer

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add sugar, eggs, ricotta, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Mix until just combined.

Pour the oil into a deep, heavy pot. Leave at least two inches of space at the top for safety. Using a deep-fry thermometer, heat the oil over medium until it reaches 325-375 degrees F.

Fry a test doughnut: Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, drop a scoop of batter in and turn it occasionally. It should take 3-4 minutes to turn golden brown. Carefully remove and cut in half to check if it’s cooked all the way through. Test another if needed.

Fry the remaining doughnuts. Don’t overcrowd the pot; fry in batches. Place doughnuts on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.  Depending on how big you scoop them, this should make around 12 donuts. 

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve warm with honey, jam, or melted chocolate.


Adapted from A Cup of Jo


© 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.

Starbucks’ Vanilla Almond Biscotti

Today I am super excited to share with all of you one of the lovely friends that I have made through my adventures writing Cannella Vita. One of my favorite things about food blogging (besides getting all these baked goodies) is meeting and connecting with so many other people who share my passion for food. Izy is a lovely teenage food blogger (just like myself) from England. Her emails always make me smile, and all of her pictures always take my breath away. Without further ado, here’s Izy!
 
Hiya everyone! I’m
Izy, another teen blogger, and I blog over at Top With Cinnamon. I’m
super excited to share this recipe with you today, here on Erica’s
amazing blog 🙂
I love crunchy, crispy
food the most! Fresh grapes from the fridge while they’re crisp and
juicy, cereal (no milk on mine, I don’t want no soggy cereal) and
biscotti. Not ones which should come with a tooth hazard warning, but
crunchy and crumbly with creamy almonds and a sugar-speckled crust (I’m
seriously surprised I didn’t end up sprinkling cinnamon-sugar onto this
dough before baking it).
 
Along with hot coffee or tea, they are a perfect mid-morning snack!

Annndd,
it’s fact time: ‘Biscotti’ literally means ‘twice baked’- ‘bi’ meaning
two and ‘scotti’ (think of the word scorch) meaning baked. Hooray for
random facts, they make your friends sigh in exasperation amazement at
your unexpected knowledge-bombs.

Vanilla Almond Biscotti (Starbucks Copycat)

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I used half a.p and half whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
3 tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg plus 1 egg white
3 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie tray with baking paper.

Put the first 6 ingredients into a large bowl. Cut the butter into
the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingers
(like when making pie dough or crumb topping). Set aside 2 tbsp of the
chopped almonds, and add the rest into the bowl with the flour mixture.

In a small jug / bowl, whisk together the egg, egg white, buttermilk
and vanilla extract. Pour this into the bowl  with the flour mixture
and stir together gently until the mixture comes together. You may need
to use your hands to finish mixing it by lightly kneading the dough a
few times.

Place the dough on the lined cookie tray and shape into a log
roughly 10″ long, 5″ wide then flatten it slightly to 1″ thick. Sprinkle
on the reserved chopped almonds and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden
brown on top. Let it cool on a wire rack until it’s cool enough to
handle. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.

Slice the loaf across its width using a sharp
knife or a serrated bread knife, into 3/4″ thick slices. Place the
biscotti cut side down back onto the cookie tray. Bake them again for 10
minutes, then flip them over and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove
them to a wire rack and let them dry out overnight in a dry place.

perfect cream puffs

My mom has a thing for cream puffs. That is why I chose to take on the challenge of making my own fresh cream puffs at home for Mother’s Day.
Whenever we go to visit family in Hawaii, we always set aside a moment to share a delicious Beard Papa’s puff together. When we were in New York City this past Spring, we savored some of the most delicious cream puffs ever — made by a little Japanese woman behind at a tiny counter in a busy market. I guess you could say that sampling the world’s cream puffs has become one of the special things that we do together.
When I took on this challenge of making these simple puffs at home, I realized that a lot of the recipes out there were quite complicated, with various rituals such as leaving the oven open to let the puffs dry out, or with complicated recipes for french pastry cream. However, cream puffs don’t have to be this complicated — with a good pate a choux recipe up my sleeve, and a fool-proof recipe for fresh whipped cream, I was able to create these beautiful, fluffy, eggy pastries with ease.
With love,
Erica

after being popped out of the freezer
fresh from the oven, before being piped with cream

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting) 

Recipe Notes:
You can freeze the piped dough rounds on the baking sheets, then transfer to resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to 1 month. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing apart (do not defrost) and continue with recipe (brushing with egg wash and baking at 375F). This is especially helpful because cream puffs are best when freshly baked, and do not keep very well after being piped with cream.  

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit 1 large pastry bag with plain 1/2-inch tip (I usually use a plastic freezer bag with 1/2-inch cut from one bottom corner.



Bring milk, butter, 1 tsp. sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium sauce- pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add flour all at once; reduce heat to medium-low. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a dough forms and pulls away from sides of pan, 1–2 minutes.
Continue beating vigorously for about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium sized bowl.

Add 1 egg and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until egg is incorporated and dough looks dry again, about 2 minutes. Repeat with 4 more eggs, adding one at a time and stirring vigorously to incorporate before adding the next. Dough should be smooth, shiny, and thickened.

Scoop dough into prepared pastry bag; pipe out rounds about an inch high and with a 2 1/2 inch diameter on prepared sheets, leaving 2 inches between rounds.  (now would be the time to freeze the rounds if you plan to bake them later)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk remaining egg with 2 tsp. water and brush each puff all over with egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes until puffs turn a deep golden brown.



Prepare a second bag with 1/2-inch open-star tip. Beat heavy cream and remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form (I flavored the cream with a fresh vanilla bean, but feel free to flavor it however you please). Place whipped cream into prepared pastry bag. Puncture a small hole in the side of each puff, and fill each puff with cream. Dust tops of cream puffs with powdered sugar.

everyday apple upside down cake

There are few flavors I love more than cinnamon and apples. This weekend, the local farmer’s market was full of fresh apples — nearly every stand carrying bushels and bushels of crisp, juicy goodness.  This everyday cake is not overly sweet, nor overly fancy. It is perfect for a snack or tea with friends — and is absolutely luscious with notes of olive oil (tinting the cake a rich yellow color), walnuts (adding a savory crunch) and Greek yogurt (giving it a nice tang). It has a rich aroma of cinnamon and vanilla, and a lovely light texture. I love the apple pattern on the top, and the surprise of popping it upside down out of the pan is so much fun. Plus, as an added bonus, this cake has absolutely no butter, but still tastes succulent and rich — with the added health bonuses of good quality olive oil, walnuts (full of omega-3s!), and hunger-fighting Greek yogurt! Have your cake and eat it too!

With love,
Erica


 Inspired by La Tartine Gourmande

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 3 apples
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons (for apples)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (One individual container will do)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 Tablespoon good quality, fruity olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons almond flour

Preheat the oven at 350 F. Spray a 9 inch cake pan — preferably non stick.
Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast them (about 5 to 7 minutes). Remove and cool them; chop coarsely and set aside.
Wash the apples and slice them finely (either do halves or wholes, depending on the design you want on your cake — I did a mix of the two).
In a non-stick frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter on medium heat, and add the apple slices with the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Toss well and cook for about 4 minutes, or until slightly tender.
Arrange the apple slices at the bottom of the mold (this is going to be the pretty top of your cake).
In a large bowl, mix the yogurt with the sugar. Add the vanilla seeds, and mix well. Add the eggs, and then the olive oil.
Finish with the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and nuts.
Pour this batter over the apples and bake the cake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the blade of a knife inserted in the cake comes out dry. Let the cake cool and then unmold on a rack. Enjoy!