Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

It’s annual pie party time!

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Every year one of my friends here in Milwaukee holds a pie party. You bring a pie and everyone votes for their favorite. This year, in a new twist, there was both a savory AND a sweet category.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Contests like this remind me that there are times in my life when I get competitive. It’s rare. After all, I purposefully work in a field that is about as un-competitive as you can get (art education!). But when it happens, watch out.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Happily for my baking ego, I won the sweet category with this doozy of a pie! And my pal who for two years running has gotten first place still won, taking the savory category with a cheddar tomato pie (yum). Everyone wins! Well, okay, two of us win. But you get the picture.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

I was a little worried that this tart wouldn’t be pie-ish enough for a pie party, so I baked it in a pie pan (that’s not cheating, is it?) and threw caution to the wind. Who could turn down something that combines local honey, almond butter, and chocolate ganache? And on top of that is nearly no-bake? Not this girl, that’s for sure.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Surprisingly, I’m not the biggest pie person (I tend to go only for apple pie, and that’s mainly for the pie dough), and I especially hate mousse-y pies, but this thing… wow. I’m into it.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

First, the crust is vanilla shortbread, which is so easy it’s ridiculous (no rolling pan required! Just press it in). Second, the filling is a cream cheese, almond butter, and honey combo…

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Which you fold with whipped cream to make it light and fluffy, but still tangy and nutty and sweet. And THEN you top it off with the baking world’s best invention, chocolate ganache.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Throw it all in the fridge and you’re set. It’s a bit ridiculous how easy it is for such an awesome payoff. Easy to make ahead, too!

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

And, not only is it easy, but now it’s award winning. So the next time you need to win a pie contest, you know what recipe to turn to. You’re welcome!

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Lemon Thyme Cake

My birthday was yesterday and so — in keeping with tradition — I made myself a cake!

Lemon Thyme Cake

(Well, two cakes. I love my 6″ cake pans, in part because they leave me with leftovers, like this 3-incher.)

Lemon Thyme Cake

Every year when I tell people I’m baking myself a cake for my birthday at least one person gets kind of sad on my behalf and offers to bake a cake for me instead. Which is, of course, extremely thoughtful. But then I explain that I do in fact like baking for myself on my birthday. It might have started as a perfectionist thing, but now it’s more an excuse to have people over to share the finished product. (And act as hand models for your nerdy food blog. See: final photo of this post.)

Lemon Thyme Cake

I suppose it is a little strange that I like to bake myself a cake on my birthday. If I had a favorite cake spot in Milwaukee, I might consider getting myself a cake from there instead. I do have a favorite bakery here, but I don’t think they really do cakes. (If I was in New York, though, watch out, I might never bake myself a cake again. I’m thinking of this place. Oh man, THIS PLACE. What I wouldn’t give for a cake from there. Close second: thiiiis. Drool. Can you tell I’m in NYC withdrawal since finishing grad school?)

Lemon Thyme Cake

But! I digress. I found this cake on Pinterest last week, and it just looked so simple and pretty from the beautiful photographs on Spoon Fork Bacon that I couldn’t resist! Plus, longtime readers around here know I’m an herb-and-sweets fiend, and it was high time I broke out of my lavender obsession to try something new.

Lemon Thyme Cake

And indeed, this cake is pretty darn good. Since it was my birthday, I adapted this into a two-layer cake (rather than a one-layer as the original recipe suggests), making a slightly stiffer frosting to hold up the heavy layers.

Lemon Thyme Cake

I will admit that I could not detect much of a thyme flavor — I’m not sure if the thyme in my apartment building’s garden was too young, perhaps, or if I should have gone a little heavier handed on my tablespoonsful (let’s be real, I got tired of mincing), but no matter: the lemon-sweet flavor of this cake is STRONG. In fact, if you balk at herbed cakes, you can just leave out the thyme. This recipe really does makes the most lovely, super lemony cake.

Lemon Thyme Cake

So, I’ll leave you with some more pictures of my birthday cake (now half-demolished with remains making their way to work with me tomorrow, along with the baby cake, which is going to my fantastic catsitter as an extra thank you for putting up with my needy cats for pretty much the entire month of June while I was off grad-school-ing).

Lemon Thyme Cake

As I said in my previous post, not sure when I’ll next have the urge to bake, but stay tuned. In the meantime, I’ll be dreaming of my vacation to NYC next month, where I plan to continue my baked-good-fueled-birthday-celebrations…

Lemon Thyme Cake

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