Gingerbread Marina City

Also known as the corn cob buildings. So two years ago, I was involved in the making of a geodesic dome gingerbread house.

…and from that, the non-traditional gingerbread house tradition was born. I spent this holiday season with my husband’s family which includes a family of architects, designers….and one molecular cellular biology graduate student. When we sat down to brainstorm what to make out of gingerbread this year, the graduate student suggested that we do Marina City in Chicago. For those of you unfamiliar….(feel free to google)

…annnndd….

The water is made of royal icing dyed blue!

That’s Phil of http://philipdelosreyes.blogspot.com/! He did all the math and designing of Marina City, I was the cheap hired labor. For those of you interested, Phil is also a designer in real-life and does freelance work for real (or gingerbread) things. Enjoy!

8:40 PM

Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake

I have to apologize for the quality of these images. I made the cake at night (not a preferable time to take pictures) but we had guests over that deemed immediate serving of the cake…hence poor lighting. However, I wanted to share it anyway because it was delectable. Plus it was served warm and with friends. Hard to go wrong there!

Oh yellow evening lighting, how I loathe thee. Anyway, we had some house guests staying with us earlier this month for residency interviews and a baked good that combined the tastes of chocolate and orange was requested. Then, this cake was brought up and a similar rendition was officially requested. As a result – here we are again…at chocolate orange bundt cake land.

The cake was perfectly citrusy and mm mm moist. I threw on a ganache glaze to add an extra layer of sweetness as the cake itself is not that sweet. This cake was gone within a few days as we enjoyed it for numerous in-between-meal snacks (oops?). Oh also, the original recipe called for orange extract…which I didn’t have…and instead of postponing the cake, I replaced it with some orange juice. It worked out perfectly.

Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake

Adapted from joythebaker

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 large orange
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In one large bowl, mix together your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another, beat your butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy. Add in your eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Add in your vanilla and sour cream. Finally, add in your flour mixture slowly until everything is just combined and looks even (try not to over-mix!).

Here comes the fun part. Divide your batter into two bowls.

Bowl 1: add in your orange zest and orange juice and combine
Bowl 2: add in your cocoa powder and chocolate chips and combine

Now simply pour your orange batter into a buttered and floured Bundt pan and spread it evenly. Then, pour in your chocolate batter on top. You can spread the mixture evenly with the back of the spoon or do the old “slam it onto the counter until the top looks even” technique. I chose to make a lot of noise and slam it onto the counter a few times.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the cake springs back at you when you touch it. Let it cool slightly and then flip it upside down onto the serving platter of your choice. Now, while the cake is still warm…

Optional (but I really mean required) Chocolate Ganache
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a double boiler, combine the two ingredients until the chocolate is melted and looks like a vat of something Willy Wonka would be proud of. Remember if you don’t have a double boiler (we don’t) just put a metal mixing bowl over a small pot filled with water and use an oven mitt to keep the bowl in place while whisking. Someday I will have nice things, I promise.

Finally, pour the ganache all over the entire cake. We served it warm and I think that was probably the way to go!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Cranberry Pecan Tart

Let the cranberry posts continue! I made this tart a couple years ago, using walnuts. I absolutely love pecan pie, so I figured I would give it a try with a different nut. The orange zest gives a nice hint of citrus to balance the sweetness of the filling and tartness of the cranberries. And the buttery crust is as delicious as it is easy – no rolling required!

Adapted from these two sources: Chow and TasteOfHome.

Crust:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon  salt
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, and salt until incorporated. Add the flour and stir until just combined and a soft dough forms.
Spread the dough into the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Poke the bottom of the crust all over with a toothpick (to allow steam to escape and avoid the crust bubbling up while baking). Line with foil or parchment and place pie weights on the bottom surface (if you have them…this will help prevent the shell from bubbling up or shrinking while baking). Bake about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool while making the filling.

Filling:
½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon zested orange peel (I used one Clementine)
1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, corn syrup, eggs, butter and orange peel in a large bowl. Arrange nuts and cranberries evenly in bottom of crust; pour sugar mixture over the top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Crust will be golden, edge of filling firm, and center is almost set. Cool on wire rack. Store in refrigerator until serving.

Before baking…

Buttery crust…

Aerial view!

Yum!

Cut a slice and enjoy!