It took until just a couple weeks ago, but it is finally (mostly) super cold in New York (though significantly worse in Michigan last weekend, yikes). Not that I’m saying this is a good thing; winter is easily my least favorite season, except for the fact that I can comfortably use my oven and also make and eat soup all. the. time. I adapted this recipe from David’s stepmom, and the original is an award winner (at the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival many years ago, and still talked about all the time!); this version is vegan, and it was served at last month’s Supper Studio dinner with Brooklyn psych-pop band TEEN.
Whiskey Chocolate Balls (Inspired by Sleater-Kinney)
Whiskey chocolate balls
Confession: I was embarrassingly late on listening to Sleater-Kinney. As in, they broke up in 2006 and I didn’t get super into All Hands On The Bad One until about four years later. (I will now cover my eyes so I can’t see your totally disgusted faces shunning me. But don’t worry, I got on that Wild Flag record reeeal quick.) Needless to say, they’re on the long, long list of bands I wish someone had told me about when I was in high school. Anyway, it goes without saying that that album is incredible, and these whiskey balls come from a line in “You’re No Rock N’ Roll Fun” about “whiskey drinks and chocolate bars.” The first line of the song — “You’re no rock ‘n’ roll fun/ Like a party that’s over before it’s begun” — hits home for me because when my friends and I go out, I tend to be the one who gets tired super early, and I’m frequently hassled about my inability/refusal to take shots. I also don’t like whiskey! (See? Ms. No Rock N’ Roll Fun over here.) However, now I can say that I sometimes like whiskey: when it’s baked in a cake, then turned into little balls of chocolatey, sugary, walnutty goodness (mixed with even a little more whiskey). These were kind of amazing, and they’ll certainly be replacing any future urge to make cake balls: They’re quite similar, but because these babies use sugar and booze to bind the cake crumbs together instead of buttery frosting, they don’t result in obnoxiously greasy hands, and they don’t feel as heavy to eat.
Unrelated to the great S-K: I took these treats to a super-cool event called BAKINGMAKESFRIENDS — which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Lillie from the gorgeous baking blog Butter Me Up Brooklyn, started this shindig, to which you bring baked goods and friends, and hang at a bar to trade treats and meet new people. Lillie made bourbon blondies (obviously we were on the same page), and among my other favorites were chocolate ginger cookies, poppyseed buckwheat cookies (trust me, they were SO good), cardamom baklava, mustard spice cookies… I could go on and on. Anyway, it was lovely and I’m looking forward to the next one!
Hot Pumpkin Soup (Inspired by Mirah)
Spicy pumpkin soup (recipe here)
Last Saturday after a super-short trip to Michigan, I was welcomed back to LaGuardia with snow. Snow! On October 29! Of course, it was the kind of snow that hit the ground and instantly turned to slush. And I couldn’t help but think of Mirah‘s song “Make It Hot” because of the lyric “The snow falls/ The snow’s all ugly/ When it hits the street,” and also “While We Have The Sun” (“Let’s take the time to walk together while we have the sun/ You never know when temperamental weather’s gonna come”). So, I made a spicy pumpkin soup to warm up from this grossness (thankfully, it’s mostly gone now); the peppers are to “make it hot” and the base is pumpkin because the snow came right in time for Halloween. There’s also some coconut milk in there for the sweetness in Mirah’s voice and her music in general.
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Red Velvet Cake Balls (Inspired by Pepper Rabbit)
Red velvet cake balls rolled in shredded coconut (recipe here)
Pepper Rabbit just released an album called Red Velvet Snow Ball. I believe it’s named after some kind of sno-cone, but this is my interpretation! Clearly this has nothing to do with the actual band, and that’s OK; I made them for my old roommate Petra’s going-away shindig, because she is the first person I think of when I think of red velvet cake.
http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F955739 Red Velvet Snow Ball Sampler by Pepper Rabbit
High-Energy Apple Muffins (Inspired by The Apples In Stereo)
“And the world is made of energy
and the world is possibility
and the world is made of energy
and there’s a light inside of you
and there’s a light inside of me.”
— “Energy” by the Apples in Stereo, from their 2007 LP New Magnetic Wonder
The Apples in Stereo’s perfect spring anthem “Energy” is guaranteed to make you feel great, and these muffins might make you feel even better. They are delicious (I wanted to eat spoonfuls of the batter), but you don’t have to feel bad about eating them because they’re packed with high-energy, high-protein ingredients like quinoa and walnuts, and the sweetness comes mostly from shredded apples, plus raisins, coconut, cinnamon and just a little bit of raw sugar. (Yep, they are vegan.)
The Apples in Stereo on MySpace
Poo Cloud Whoopie Pies (inspired by Owen Pallett/Final Fantasy)
Coconut whoopie pies! (Yep, they are good enough to warrant an exclamation point. Recipe after the cut.)
A few months ago my friend Amanda and I made cupcakes with mini pumpkin pies in them (inspired by a recipe on Bake It In A Cake). I had a ton of pumpkin pie filling left over, so later that week my friend Lauren and I decided to use it to make pumpkin whoopie pies. Figuring out the recipe required some serious math skills since we were working with pie filling, not just pumpkin puree … Anyway, by some miracle they came out perfectly — when we peeled the cakelike cookies off the wax paper, they were like perfect, fluffy, pillowy clouds.
However, this was before I had my amazing batter scoops, so some of them didn’t look so pretty. In fact, Lauren and I decided that a few of them sort of resembled dog poo. See where I’m going with this? Dog poo … fluffy clouds … poo clouds … Owen Pallett’s record He Poos Clouds… Get it?! And — so this whole post isn’t about my having the maturity of a 13-year-old (just most of it) — they really are a great match for the delicacy of Pallett’s music. A little more on that below.
So here are our whoopie pies, Take Two, except this time they’re pretty, they’re lighter, and they do not look like poo. Let me tell you, these are heavenly, and despite how insanely sweet they are, I promise you won’t be able to eat just one.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
If we’ve ever talked about music, there’s a good chance I’ve mentioned my love for Owen Pallett (until about a year ago, he performed as Final Fantasy). He’s a Canadian singer/songwriter/composer who has arranged music for and/or played with a bazillion artists (including Grizzly Bear, Beirut, the Pet Shop Boys, Mika, he’s written string arrangements for and played with Arcade Fire…), and his most recent record Heartland, his first under his own name instead of FF, was my favorite of 2010. A lot of his earlier music is rooted in delicately looped violin parts and vocals, with other orchestration on and off; Heartland has plenty of that, but it’s bigger and more produced, with more electronic elements and layers of vocals.
Owen Pallett on MySpace