Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

As promised, friends: CAKE!

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

I made this “Aunt Sassy Cake” for a birthday party at work!

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

And ooh, it’s a good one. The cake is moist and fluffy and delicate, the frosting is crazy: a bit of depth and sweetness from the honey, but not teeth-achingly-sweet by any means.

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

(Forgive the messy cut–it was 100 degrees out that day and it’s honestly a wonder the thing made it from my apartment to work!)

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

And I must admit, dear readers, I spent nearly twenty minutes typing up and adapting the below recipe. Phew. Almost as exhausting as baking the cake itself.

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

So I hope you’ll allow me to keep this post short and sweet and leave you with simply a bunch of pretty pictures of the cupcakes this recipe also made. Sound good? I thought so.

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

This cake, and bonus cupcakes, are worth the effort. Give it a try!

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Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

Whoo! It’s been a while!

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

I was out of town for my birthday… eating my way through Toronto. As I do when I travel.

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

But I’m coming back… with brownies. (And cake–two cakes! But that’s for another post.)

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

Let’s talk about these brownies. I was so furious at the Miette cookbook when I went to cut these brownies the next day and found that they went completely to crumbles the minute you put your knife in them.

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

But then I typed up the recipe for this blog post… and realized that it advised you to cut them while still warm, only about 20 minutes. Well, guess I learned my lesson!

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

Luckily, you can make a pan of messed-up brownies into adorable brownie crumble by popping them into “nut party cups” that you have lying in your cupcake liner shelf. (What–you don’t have a cupcake liner shelf?)

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

And, whether you read the directions properly or not, these brownies have a deep, rich chocolate flavor. I’m sure it’s probably due to the fact that there are four bars of melted 70% cacao chocolate in there, but still–it’s so good. (That dash of espresso powder just adds that extra oomph to chocolate desserts, no!?)

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

Really, this recipe is par for the course with the Miette cookbook: all their recipes turn out lovely flavors, but the directions drive me crazy and often produce not-quite-right treats. Imperfect, fussy recipes… pretty incredible flavors. Worth the fuss? I still can’t decide! It’s just a good thing this book is so darn pretty.

Tasting Tuesdays: Brownie Crumble

As always, a huge thank you to the lovely ladies at Anthropologie Milwaukee! It was great to hang out with you (and be tempted by the brand-new stock and displays!). Also, did you see there’s a new table in the dressing room!? It’s blue. And so cute. The food styling geek in me is pretty excited for a new string of photo shoots!

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Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Displaced Pittsburghers, and other lovers of the Steel City: this one’s for you.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

When I saw the recipe for Giant Eagle-style chocolate thumbprints on Brown Eyed Baker about two weeks ago, they went straight on my “must bake as soon as humanly possible” list.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Just looking at the photos on her blog made me homesick.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

The grocery chain in Pittsburgh is Giant Eagle (Iggle if you speak Pittsburghese). (And before you scoff at the name of our grocery stores, Wisconsinites, I raise my eyebrows at “Pick n’ Save”–giant eagles might have nothing to do with groceries, but at least it’s more creative than Pick n’ Save. Sheesh, who comes up with these names? The more I think about them, the sillier they sound.)

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Anyway… One of my fondest memories growing up is going to the grocery store. Sounds a little odd until you know that every single time we went, my mom would pop us by the bakery counter where the baker would give me a free thumbprint cookie. I remember being jittery with excitement as my mom slowly wheeled the cart through the produce aisles, picked out lettuce and whatnot, then stopped at the meat counter, all in what seemed like slow motion to my seven-year-old brain, waiting not at all patiently for us to finally hit the bakery.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

And then, there we were. A thumbprint. Chocolate or vanilla. I’m not sure what my favorite flavor was, but I do know that I ate my fair share of both. I also know that, being totally indecisive, I probably annoyed my mom on the majority of our grocery trips by being unable to choose between the two. (The really great days were when the baker gave me both, probably to help my mom get on with her shopping.)

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

This cookie has a weirdly crunchy but also soft dough (poor description, I know–Brown Eyed Baker’s is better) that pairs well with both the denser, fudgey frosting and the sweet, vanilla icing, which hardens on the top like royal icing but is perfectly oozy when you bite into it. And using different flavored sprinkles gives each cookie a totally different taste, even though you’re using the same dough.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style) Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

And just so you know–unlike in all other parts of the country, thumbprints never have jelly in them. Ew. Just don’t do it. Please, put frosting in there instead.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Also, full confession time: I’m not ashamed to say that when I was home for college breaks and tagging along as my mom did her shopping, I would wander up to the bakery counter even then. If you have ever met me in person, you know that I look about 5 to 10 years younger than I actually am, depending on the amount of makeup or height of heel I’m wearing. So, more often than not, as my sneaky 20-year-old self eyed the cookies, the baker would fork over a free thumbprint, obviously assuming I was 12 years old. I can honestly say that these are the only times in my life that I have ever felt grateful for looking so ridiculously young (and before you mention it, yes, I know I’ll be thrilled when I’m 40 years old and look 25. You don’t need to say it. Seriously. Don’t say it).

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

If we weren’t in a rush and the cake decorators were working at the window, Mom would let me watch as they spooned piles of fluffy frosting onto cakes, twirling the stand rapidly to smooth it out, then piped delicate roses and birthday wishes on top. It all seemed like magic to me–how could they make it look so beautiful so quickly? I’d stand on my tiptoes, mesmerized, until we finally had to go. I could have stayed there all day.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Funny how cookies like this–just from one person’s blog post and countless recipe tests–can make all these great memories come up, isn’t it? Although most cookbook authors introduce their baking chapters with nostalgic memories of baking with family, I never really thought about baking as a particularly memory-laden experience for me, since we didn’t do a whole lot of baking in our kitchen (except perhaps the holidays). But I guess there’s a nostalgia to my grown-up love of baking after all: it just was in the form of Giant Eagle and thumbprint cookies rather than a mixing bowl on my own kitchen counter.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

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