Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

I’ve had Britain on the mind lately.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know this is not an unusual occurrence.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

I’m a big fan of all things British: Scones. English chocolate. Harry Potter. Sherlock. Downton Abbey (see above) and other, real English country estates. Free art museums with glorious collections. And of course, the accent. (Does anyone else sometimes get the strong urge to just start speaking in a British accent to random people? Or their cats? … Just me? Okay, then.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

My current British obsession combines nearly all of the things above: THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF. Oh yes. (Minus Harry, Sherlock, and the National Gallery–can’t win ’em all. Although, maybe they’ll have to create cakes inspired by works of art for the season finale, and Benedict Cumberbatch will cameo as a guest judge for some inexplicable reason… hey, a girl can dream.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

The Great British Bake Off is seriously awesome. A reality show where the contestants are not only incredibly talented non-professional bakers but also all actually care about each other? Dry and witty comedienne hosts? Decidedly pro-UK interludes with food historians? A judge named, I am not kidding you, MARY BERRY!? TV does not get better than this, people. Especially when you’re a baker yourself and occasionally realize you know more than the contestants (case in point: kouign-amann, best pastry ever–how had NONE of them ever heard of it before!?).

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

So what does GBBO, as the Brits call/hashtag it, have to do with this coffee cake? (Coffee cake is not exactly British, after all.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

Toffee! That’s how I’m bringing this full circle. (Yeah, it’s a stretch, because turns out what we in the US refer to as “English toffee” is not really anything like what toffee is in the UK. Whatever, just go with it, I really just wanted an excuse to talk about the Great British Bake Off.) I’m not the biggest fan of toffee–it’s definitely more of an English confection than American–but when you douse it in brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon, it is definitely OK by me.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

One of my curator pals, a fellow baker, recently told me about this recipe and I had to give it a try once she described it. And I am so glad I did. I adapted it a bit on the go (adding toffee bits and cinnamon to the batter itself) and it is pretty amazing.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

If you want to make your own British connection, you can always sub your side of coffee for tea. In the meantime, I’ll be spending my Sunday catching up on past GBBO seasons with this coffee cake at my side.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

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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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Sandwich Cookie Party

Sandwich Cookie Party

I was so lucky last week to bake once more for Anthropologie!

Sandwich Cookie Party

Since I’m on summer break from grad school, it worked out that I could squeeze in some baking time for one of Anthropologie’s summer events series.

Sandwich Cookie Party

I decided to make the baking more interactive this time around: a make-your-own sandwich cookie party!

Sandwich Cookie Party

I made two cookies–sugar cookies and brownie cookies–and two kinds of frosting–rose and chocolate malt. The idea was that you could mix and match either cookie with either of the frostings.

Sandwich Cookie Party

I was also so happy that my new Milwaukee blogger buddy Colleen from Inspired to Share came out to join us, too! (Her blog is awesome–make sure you check it out!)

Many thanks to Lyn, Shannon, and the rest of the Anthropologie team for having me back this summer! It was so much fun!

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Black & White Cookies

Black & White Cookies

In honor of the Oscars, some black & white cookies!

Black & White Cookies

I can’t believe I don’t have this recipe on the blog yet.

Black & White Cookies

It’s a good one: a little fussy, to be sure (it is a Martha Stewart recipe, after all), but worth a bit of work.

Black & White Cookies

A warning, though: without the icing, the cookies don’t taste amazing; and without the cookies, the icings taste way too sweet. So when you taste test along the way, just keep that in mind–they’re best when completely assembled.

Black & White Cookies

On a completely unrelated note, I have, in my limited amounts of spare time, been watching Alias. That spy show with Jennifer Garner from the early 2000s. Oh man. It is so good and addicting. Like Revenge‘s older sister. If you want to lose your weekend to Netflix, I highly recommend putting Alias in your Instant Queue…

Black & White Cookies

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Brownie Ginger Cookies

Well, hey there, blog! Long time no see!

Brownie Ginger Cookies

Since we last hung out, I’ve pretty much just been studying, working, and hibernating. It’s been anywhere from 20 to -20 degrees, give or take a few thanks to Lake Effect Wind Chill.

Brownie Ginger Cookies

I also got the flu. It was rough. And it took a lot of time to catch up afterwards.

Brownie Ginger Cookies

Happily, I’m now completely better, I’ve (mostly) finished my homework, and so in celebration I made us cookies.

Brownie Ginger Cookies

These are some of my favorites, and I can’t believe they weren’t on this blog yet. I discovered them in college and have made them a fair bit since then. They’re as chewy and dense and chocolate-y as brownies, but the ginger gives them an awesome, warming winter twist. And some good-quality white chocolate gives them a nice, cool finish!

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Advent 2012–Day 23

Advent 2012--Day 23

When you read this, I’ll be on a plane, up since 3 in the morning! Yikes!

Advent 2012--Day 23

So, I am pre-writing and scheduling this post. Who knows what you’d get if I wrote this after having been up at 3. It would be bad, incomprehensible (though perhaps amusing).

Advent 2012--Day 23

I was a bit disappointed with these caramels–really disappointed actually. They sound amazing–dulce de leche, milk chocolate, cashews!? But I could barely bite into them. Such a bummer. Could be that my apartment is too cold, but none of the other caramels were like this. Sad face!

Advent 2012--Day 23

One more day till Christmas!!

Advent 2012--Day 23

» Crema Caramels/a> | Argentinean dulce de leche + Costa Rican cashews + milk chocolate
» Check out
Day 23 of my sister’s nail polish advent calendar!
» Introduction to my Advent 2012 blog post series

Advent 2012–Day 22

Whoo! This one was legitimately spicy!

Advent 2012--Day 22

I’m not super into the spice, but I love the texture of this one. Spicy chocolates seems like a great idea for these cold winter months, right? It’s so warming.

Advent 2012--Day 22

TWO MORE DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS EVE!

Advent 2012--Day 22

…I’m just a little bit excited.

Advent 2012--Day 22

» Red Fire Toffee | Ancho & chipotle chillies + Ceylon cinnamon + sweet butter toffee + dark chocolate + red fire pecans
» Check out Day 22 of my sister’s nail polish advent calendar!
» Introduction to my Advent 2012 blog post series