Apricot Almond Layer Cake

Let’s Eat CAKE!

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

Apricot Almond Layer Cake  Apricot Almond Layer Cake is a rich, elegant dessert or ‘sweet treat’ to serve with tea.  At first, I described it as just  ‘good’ . . . but not ‘wow’.  The  second day it was a little better, even though the meringue gets a bit soft (mine was soft and chewy to begin with).  Overall the flavors blend together nicely, especially the second day. Even after a few days (yes – it lasted that long….quite rich so serving slices were small) it was still attractive to serve and tasted good. Apricot Almond Layer Cake

The photo accompanying the recipe shows a bright orange ‘apricot’ colored layer.Apricot Almond Layer Cake Since I used non-sulfured apricots, so they were dark to begin with.  I think the bright orange apricots might turn dark after cooking into the compote anyway, so would not maintain the pretty bright orange as in the photo! (as in so many published recipes, the photo was probably photo-shopped or un-cooked apricots were used). The flavor is subtle and very nice. I think I might use the ‘compote’ for other recipes such as with waffles, pancakes, or even French Toast; or possibly paired with cheese and crackers!

The Almond-Crunch was a fascinating process and works really well. Apricot Almond Layer Cake I recommend it for any recipe with ‘nut-crunch’ or ‘praline’ type additions or toppings!! I’m also thinking topping for ice-cream or perhaps lovely pumpkin pie?

The recipe seemed to make a large volume of meringue. Even after carefully drawing out the circles and piling on the fluffy meringue, I had lots left, so I daubed on some smaller circles. Another idea for this dessert – making individual servings!

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

Get the recipe: Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

 

Scandinavia Baltic Cruise Conclusion

Scandinavia -Baltic Cruise

Conclusion

We were so fortunate to be able to take our Baltic cruise, spend time together and see things we had only read about in history books or seen on the travel channel.

Here are a couple of pictures we purchased . . .

Scandinavia-Baltic Cruise Concluded

  A picture of Stockholm at Sunset

and the magnificent Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.

Scandinavia-Baltic Cruise Conclusion

We wish you all the vacation of your dreams

Guest Author: Vicki L

Last Stop: Belgium -Cruising Scandinavia

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise

Belgium  - Our Last Stop   

 

Our Scandinavian-Baltic cruise concluded with a stop in Belgium.

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium We spent the morning of our final destination, Belgium, visiting Flanders Field, near Eiper (or Ypres in French). This town is so old it was destroyed by the Romans in the 1st century AD. It was again reduced to rubble during WWI. This area was a crucial battle sight between Germany and France. Almost 12,000 soldiers are buried in Tyne Cot (just one of many cemeteries here).

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

The afternoon was spent in Bruges – probably my favorite of the medieval towns. Even the rainy day couldn’t spoil this treasure! The chocolate we purchased did not make it back home -we knew it would melt!

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Author: Vicki L

Copenhagen Denmark – Cruising Scandinavia

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Our trip was winding down by the time we got to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

What a beautiful city. It was so clean.  I think the reason is that there is such a huge tax (50-100%) on private vehicles, so most people walk or ride bicycles. There are around 550,000 people in Copenhagen and over 680,000 registered bicycles!!

 We passed the 370 year old Stock Exchange building on our river cruise and saw some other beautiful buildings and fountains.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

On our city tour, we saw Amalienborg – the quartet of palaces (really fairly small ones) that house the Queen, her 2 sons and their families and the guest palace.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

 And, no visit would be complete without seeing the statue of the Little Mermaid in the harbor.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

        Guest Author: Vicki L

Pretty Party Cake – Let’s Eat Cake!

Let’s Eat Cake!

Pretty Party Cake for any Celebration

 

Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

This was a yummy cake and it was easy to make.

I see us making this cake often.

I liked that the two layers are each made separately so I didn’t have to try to cut them straight! Or fill each pan evenly.   Thankfully I read the directions all the way through before beginning the  recipe, so I was aware that the amounts were per layer.  I think it would be fun to add a third layer, which would be easy to do with the recipe measurements as they are.Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

 

IPretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake! did not follow the recipe for all of the frosting. The recipe has you make one frosting for the base and another for the decorative flowers but I would have to buy 3 bags of powdered sugar and 2# of butter.Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

 

So instead I made the base frosting following the recipe. Then I added some more powdered sugar to make it thicker and colored it for the flowers. We pressed them on wax paper and put them in the freezer because our room temperature was warm. It worked perfectly. There was still left over frosting after we made the flowers and left per flowers (we didn’t put all the flowers we made on the cake).  They make a yummy- cool sweet treat right out of the freezer.

Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

I was also concerned with 2 sticks of butter in the frosting so I compared other buttercream frosting recipes. They all had the same amount of powdered sugar but much less butter and milk. I think that is what makes this one so good and not too sweet.

My hubby has requested this to be his next birthday cake.

I’d say it say it was a big hit! 

Epeciurious.com Recipe: Two Layer Cake

 

Stockholm, Sweden – Cruising Scandinavia

 

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

 Stockholm, Sweden – Water Tour

After the tours over the previous few days, we were tired of seeing museums and churches;  so in Stockholm, Sweden, we enjoyed a leisurely boat cruise through the harbor area and the adjacent lake –  Stockholm, Sweden - Cruising Scandinavia

 – which involved trips through the locks Stockholm, Sweden - Cruising Scandinavia - my first time doing something like that.  Stockholm, Sweden - Cruising Scandinavia
Beautiful waterfront views surrounded the area.
We passed by the Parliament and where the Nobel Prizes are awarded – both right on the water!
Stockholm, Sweden - Cruising Scandinavia
Guest Author: Vicki L

Dragon Fruit

 

Bright pink “Dragon Fruit” is an intriguing produce that has started showing up in local grocery stores.Dragon Fruit

I saw Dragon Fruit for the first time last year.  Even at the $9.99 price per pound, which seemed outrageous to me, I was intrigued.

When I saw this fruit again – in abundance –  in the markets in San Francisco’s China Town (and for a much lower -more reasonable price)  I decided I needed to give it a try.Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit

This exotic fruit MIGHT be worth the price, right?! I chose a small specimen -partly to save money, but also because- I might not like it and it might not be worth the price.

Dragon Fruit

It is easy to work with – peeling, scooping or dicing; and a very pretty pink to add to a salad or over yogurt etc.

Dragon Fruit

Other than the bright pretty pink color, I am not impressed! The flavor is mild and nothing to sing about. The texture is something akin to a dense kiwi.  In my opinion, unless it proves to have super nutritious powers, it isn’t worth adding to anything – especially at the going rate. Perhaps if the price comes down –a lot! it might be fun. . .

 

 

 

But here is some interesting information on this strange -looking exotic “Dragon” fruit:

It is also known as Pitaya or Pitaha.  It is the fruit of several cactus species.  There are three varieties: a red-skinned with pink flesh; red-skinned with white  flesh  and  yellow-skin with white flesh.

Dragon Fruit Dragon Fruit

 

 

Helsinki, Finland – on the Scandinavia Cruise

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Helsinki, Finland

After St. Petersburg, we went to Helsinki, Finland. What a difference!

We had an opportunity to take a drive around the city of Helsinki and stopped at a beautiful Lutheran church that almost looked Russian.

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

  And another church, built in 1969, was blasted out of solid rock

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took an unusual tour to a Finnish horse farm that’s been in the family for centuries – not just decades!

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

Currently, four generations with 26 family members run the farm. We had a lovely lunch in the house (never thought I would enjoy a fish casserole…but I did. Sorry, no pictures).

And we got to see preparations for an international horse and carriage competition.Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Author: Vicki L

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

Let’s Eat Cake!

Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake with

Mocha Mascarpone Frosting

 

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

Let’s Eat Cake!

  What could be better?!         Coffee-Chocolate cake with a rich Mocha frosting – Oh My! The recipe shows a picture of a dark – almost black – cake and frosting so I was totally intrigued. After reading through the recipe I became a bit apprehensive  realizing the lengthy process and the number of steps involved: mix, bake, cool, mix, chill, mix more, frost some, chill again, frost more, chill more, un-chill to serve at room temp… whew!

I was also curious just how an almost black cake would result from mixing (white) mascarpone cheese & (white) whipping cream with dark chocolate and dark coffee Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

… NOT going to happen — and it didn’t!

But it WAS rich … oh – so rich and decadent!

AND… It was EASY!!  I allowed two days of baking and frosting to assure myself  enough time for all the steps and time required for mixing and chilling.

 

This is a delicious chocolate cake with VERY RICH frosting

My pans were a good size and baked almost evenly….one layer seemed to sink just a bit on one side while cooling but didn’t affect the layering (a little more frosting in that section!!) Once cooled, they were individually double-wrapped  (in plastic then in Ziplok bag) and refrigerated until being frosted.

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! The process of frosting the cake (one of the many ‘steps’) is a good one to remember and probably use for others: brush the crumbs off with a pastry brush; put the layers together with the filling/frosting; spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides and over the top;  then chill another 10 minutes before finishing the frosting. … I figured it was to keep the whipped cream frosting from warming too fast (the chilled cake layers helped too) but I think it is good idea for any layered cake frosting. It also gets any extra crumbs confined.

It was a nice straight up cake to begin with but once I slathered on the second layer of frosting, it kind of ’rounded’ out and looks a little plump! Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! I  could have ‘straightened’ it up again making flat sides (and losing a little frosting), but decided to leave it. I added the chocolate curls to the top and around the bottom to dress it up.

The mascarpone cheese must help hold the whipped cream frosting together (I’m thinking the commercial bakeries that offer whipped cream frosting must use something similar so it holds up and doesn’t begin to weep and sag.  The mascarpone certainly makes it RICH!

The coffee adds a lovely flavor – especially in the frosting. It could almost be a Tiramisu cake if it was a white/yellow cake vs chocolate cake (I might give that a try!)  AND – as I have said a couple times now —  there is NO WAY this recipe is going to look like the picture – At least in color! But since I knew that, I am not disappointed in anyway with the outcome.

The cake looks a little dense but has a lighter texture that it appears. Both the cake batter and frosting have a delicious – almost chocolate toffee – taste. The baked cake has a lighter coffee flavor than the batter and goes well with the frosting.

ALL reports are thumbs up!! After his second piece (with tea the next morning), hubby rates it on par with (his memory of) cakes from our favorite Dimmer’s bakery.  Our granddaughter had a piece with Gpa this morning and could only eat half of her small piece (its very rich!) but had no problem finishing it later and then asking for more. Other family members raved and raved and asked when I was making it again! Our neighbor LOVED it and said it was one the best chocolate-chocolate cakes she’s ever had.

Yaaay!!  Another winner!

 

House of Tricks Restaurant

House of Tricks  – an Oasis in the Desert

House of Tricks RestaurantThis charming restaurant is nestled inside a fenced garden under a canopy of trees which provide a relaxing and peaceful environment for enjoying ‘mouth-watering cuisine’!   Just off the beaten path in downtown Tempe, Arizona, this delightful treasure is a favorite of locals and those visitors lucky enough to discover it.

House of Tricks RestaurantSitting on the ‘sun dappled’ patio under shady trees, umbrellas and enjoying the cool misting system, we lingered over an exquisite late afternoon lunch. The contemporary American menu offers a variety of seasonally inspired options that also reflect an “eclectic blend of cultures and flavors” and feature fresh produce when availableHouse of Tricks Restaurant

House of Tricks Restaurant House of Tricks RestaurantWe  chose  the Albacore Tuna Melt Sandwich with Tomato, Bacon and Havarti Cheese on Sourdough with Spring Mix Salad. And the Grilled Salmon entree which was served over Baby Lettuce with Sweet Roasted Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Avocado, Chive Risotto Cake, Tortilla Strips and Chipotle-Grapefruit Vinaigrette

House of Tricks Restaurant.

Following these amazing meals, there was no ignoring dessert! We opted for the daily special : a Blueberry Tea Cheesecake Mousse over chocolate cookie crumbs and served in a brandy snifter – oh my! House of Tricks RestaurantIt was all at once light and rich and decadent and delicious! And a perfect ending to our delightful al fresco lunch!

 

See the full menu and learn about the ‘Tricks’