There is no man in the band Mountain Man; it’s actually a trio of three ladies — Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath — who sing gorgeous, hushed, often-a cappella harmonies; songs about loons and honeybees and buffalo and chickadees. Go ahead, get lost in these videos of them. It’s also worth noting that they recently did a bunch of shows with Feist… Their music sorta feels like sitting around a campfire by a lake, and honeycomb fits it well because this old-fashioned treat is just as light, airy and sweet as their voices; and it’s also known as seafoam, appropriate for an album called Made the Harbor whose cover is a photo of something making a splash in the water. So, just like there’s no man in Mountain Man, there’s no honey in these honeycomb treats — and while the honeycomb itself tastes like burnt marshmallows, there are no marshmallows involved, either. Anyway, dip the honeycomb in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs, and you’ve got a s’more, perfect for listening to Mountain Man and pretending you’re by a campfire on the water.
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!
Vegan blood orange cupcakes with blood orange champagne buttercream
This one’s pretty simple! Blood Orange is the prolific Dev Hynes (who’s also performed as Lightspeed Champion, and has written and/or produced songs for Solange Knowles, Florence & the Machine and Theophilus London), and last year he put out an awesome dance-rock album Coastal Grooves (think TV on the Radio, Holy Ghost!, ’80s pop). The last song on the record is called “Champagne Coast,” so these cupcakes — which I made for the ETB party last week — are flavored with blood oranges, and the frosting has champagne in it. The actual cupcakes certainly could have champagne in them, too — in fact, the only reason they don’t is because I spaced out and totally forgot about it… (Maybe it was that whole “OMG I have to make a few hundred cupcakes” thing that made me forget…) So, both versions are below.
Well, you guys are AWESOME. The first-anniversary party on Tuesday night was absolutely perfect. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out — I’m still glowing and totally overwhelmed by all your support, not just this week but for the last year. I especially would like to thank Heather and JeffPine Box Rock Shop for letting a total stranger throw a party in their bar; Jocelyn, Jeremy and Emily from Pearl and the Beard for picking the tunes (come hang with me at their show on Feb. 16!); my friend Tony for helping me make 300 tiny cupcakes and keeping me sane; and the amazing Missy Kayko for lending her badass design talents to the event poster. Check out a few photos from the party below, and find the rest on ETB’s Facebook page. (All photos here by Evan Daniels except for top photo and the first two after the cut). The bar recreated Jocelyn’s Good Winter cocktail and it was amazing; and you guys made a pretty decent dent in those cupcakes… but I don’t think the eMusic office was complaining about the leftovers on Wednesday!
I’m also sharing the recipe for the vegan red wine chocolate cinnamon cupcakes I made; recipe at the bottom! (Blood orange cupcake recipe coming later…)
Chocolate cream cheese fudge with everything but the kitchen sink mixed in (recipe here)
By now you’ve probably heard Gotye, and if you haven’t, I promise you will soon — not just in this blog post, but everywhere. A few months ago, my editor sent me the Australian/Belgian singer’s song “Somebody That I Used to Know,” and we both agreed that it was pleasant and, for better or worse, he was going to be huge. His album Making Mirrors is out in the U.S. soon (or already?), and it seems like every other day I’m seeing a different friend post a video on Facebook, mention him, etc. While Making Mirrors has some undeniably catchy pop songs that I don’t hate (“Easy Way Out,” “Eyes Wide Open”), overall I think it’s sort of a mess, and I think he’s confused about what he wants to sound like. Aside from the aforementioned decent songs, there are a couple fake-Motown/soul tracks out of nowhere (“I Feel Better,” “In Your Light”), and a bunch of terrible lyrics (in “I Feel Better”: “There was a time I was down, down/ I didn’t know what to do/ I was just stumblin’ around/ Thinking things could not improve/ I couldn’t look on the bright side of anything at all/ That’s when you gave me a call”).
This fudge is inspired by Gotye because I made it with whatever random things I could find on my baking shelf (dried cranberries, graham cracker crumbs, ground coffee and crushed candy canes?), just like he put together a bunch of totally disconnected songs and called it an album. And the fudge is very rich, which means it can only be handled in small doses. Or at least I can only handle it in small doses, though some of my friends didn’t seem to have a problem with it — just like how I can only handle a few of Gotye’s songs, but the rest of the world is just eating it up. EESH. (I liked this fudge more than I like Gotye.)
THE INSPIRATION Thousands are the Seattle-based duo of Kristian Garrard and Luke Bergman who write gorgeous, barebones folk songs, mostly comprised of delicate dueling guitars over hushed vocals, occasionally with a harmonium or pedal steel. Their album The Sound of Everything was recorded in abandoned barns and other unconventional spots (like silos and state parks). One of my favorite tracks, “Everything Turned Upside Down,” starts with what sounds like waves in the background, and has a line that goes, “You should’ve seen the fall leaves blow up/ They never fell at all.” Of course I had to make some kind of upside-down cake, but I went with apple instead of the traditional pineapple, and added fall spices to make it even more appropriate for the season. Aesthetically, it’s also very rustic-looking and kind of reminds me of a tart with the way the caramel-soaked apples sink into the cake.
Pumpkin-coffee cupcakes with mocha frosting, “dirt” and bugs (recipe here)
One of my favorite records that came out this year was the self-titled debut from Brooklyn act Widowspeak, and Halloween was a perfect excuse to use it on here: Their music is full of eerie, smoky (and gorgeous) vocals, and there’s a song called “Nightcrawlers,” in which frontwoman Molly Hamilton sings, “Nightcrawlers stay up late, nightcrawlers take the blame.” I made the classic little-kid cupcakes with cookie “dirt” and bugs (specifically, gummy centipedes from Economy Candy and Willy Wonka Sluggles — possibly the cutest name I’ve ever heard for bugs), and for the lyric about staying up late I thought of caffeine (and, of course, the sugar highs kids get from their Halloween candy) and made the cupcakes pumpkin coffee-flavored with mocha frosting. Happy Halloween!
An easier-than-pie apple pear crisp (recipe here)
October is National Apple Month! So, just a warning that most of October’s recipes on here will involve apples. To kick it off, here’s a playlist of some apple songs! You can listen on Spotify here, and the songs are below:
Mirah, “Apples in the Trees”
Beach House, “Apple Orchard”
Erykah Badu, “Apple Tree”
My Brightest Diamond, “Apples”
Slow Club, “Apples and Pairs”
The White Stripes, “Apple Blossom”
Blitzen Trapper, “Apple Trees”
Arcade Fire, “My Heart is an Apple”
Red wine chocolate cake with whipped cream and mascarpone topping and red wine–poached pears (recipe here)
When I first heard The National maybe about three years ago, I disliked by frontman Matt Berninger’s voice and wrote them off immediately (and quite unfairly). When I returned to their music last year, around the release of their album High Violet, I finally got hooked and wondered why I was so put off by them in the first place; although since then I’ve certainly acquired a taste for a wider range of voices. Anyway, I spent a lot of time with 2005’s Alligator, which has become my favorite album of theirs. I knew I had to make something based on the song “All the Wine,” partially because, like The National, it took me a few tries to call myself a wine fan, too. (Now, while I still hardly know anything about wine, I do love it and drink it quite often.)
When I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for red wine chocolate cake, I knew it was a perfect match for this band, but I had to take it a step further by not only topping it with Deb’s suggested mascarpone whipped cream, but also with pears cooked in more red wine. The cake itself is dense and rich and one bite goes a long way (the wine flavor does not disappear after baking), while the toppings give it a more complex mix of flavors. It’s similar to how The National’s music can be lyrically dark and sonically layered, but it’s contained and sort of coiled up, rather than exploding in every direction. Not to mention this is decadent and self-indulgent, just like “All the Wine”‘s chorus of “And all the wine is all for me.” Don’t feel bad, though, just indulge in this one. I made it for my dear friend Jena’s birthday because she totally deserves all the wine. It was served at our housewarming party last month, and there were only about two pieces left over.
Kurt Cobain made cookies? Apparently, or he at least had some interest in doing so. While reading through Cobain’s journals as research for a really cool feature we did on eMusic, I found a jotted-down recipe for no-bake cookies (as well as one for his mom’s shrimp pasta salad). This month marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, so in honor of the album’s anniversary I made his cookies to the best of my ability! (And they’re even more appropriate for this week seeing as I’m headed to grunge’s birthplace, Seattle, on Friday.) Strangely enough, they do not have peanut butter in them, like every other no-bake cookie I have ever made or eaten, but I assure you they are still just as fudgy and gooey as the ones that do.