triple chocolate banana cake

I sometimes worry that I've lived out west too long and that my sensibilities will never match the ones here. As I get more settled into a routine, I find myself confusing New Yorkers with the weird, crunchy West Coast habits I've mostly acquired while living in Portland. Like bringing my own tote bags for groceries. I literally bewilder almost every cashier I interact with when I decline the plastic bags they seem to hand out so freely (they were 10 cents a bag in San Francisco!) and give them my own.

There also seems to be some sort of dress code for very specific events and places that I seemed to have missed. Just last week, as I met an acquaintance of mine for a drink, I walked in and found myself to be the only lady wearing flats and a loose fitting denim dress. Even with the 90 degree+ weather and the fact that it was only 6:30PM, all the ladies and gents were decked out with makeup, bandage dresses, and suits. Maybe it's because we were at a rooftop bar overlooking Central Park? Is that #fancy? Oh well.

But now that we're on the subject of #fancy, can we talk about this triple chocolate banana cake for a hot second? Again, this is one of the recipes I hastily threw together while I was clearing out my San Francisco fridge of all its ingredients. The banana cake layers are incredibly dense and fudgy; so much that it could almost pass for banana bread. And since I love chocolate (and needed to get rid of a lot of it before I moved), there are three types in the cake: mini chocolate chips in all the layers, slathered with an instant chocolate fudge frosting (more of that in the baker's notes), all of which is topped with a shiny chocolate drippy glaze. Oh! And some white chocolate chips for garnish... I guess that's FOUR types of chocolate.



Some baker's notes:
  • Plan ahead for this one and use the ripest bananas you can find for this recipe. Buy bananas that are ripe and let them get overly black and brown — the riper they are, the more sugar in the fruit, and the more flavorful and caramelized the cake's flavor will be. Epicurious even has a guide that tells you how far in advance you should buy bananas and where you should them to get them to their ideal state. And if you're just not a planner, you can always use this neat trick from the Kitchn to ripen them in the oven.

  • Okay real talk; this cake is MAD dense. Like, banana bread level dense. It can be a little much, especially with all the rich frosting. I needed to get rid of the bananas in my freezer, okay? So if you're looking for a lighter and fluffier cake, I recommend scaling the recipe down from 3 medium bananas to just 2 (if using 2 bananas, scale the weight measurement from 9 ounces to 6 ounces). The recipe's pretty liberally adapted from the banana cake recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar, and it's SUPER forgiving and allows you to do so without needing to make any additional adjustments.You might need to adjust cooking time though — instead of checking for done-ness at 40 minutes, start checking at 30 minutes.

  • The fudge frosting is hands down one of my favorite frosting recipes on my blog to date. Unlike with regular fudge, there's no need to fuss around with candy thermometers and heating all the ingredients to the right temperature. You pretty much just throw in all the ingredients in a food processor and process until you end up with a creamy and somewhat glossy fudge. The only thing is that you WILL need a food processor — you can't quite get the same texture with a freestanding electric mixer or a hand mixer. Sorry folks!

egg yolk chocolate chip cookies

Welp, we did it!

This past Monday, we officially signed a lease for a 2 bedroom apartment in a Brooklyn townhouse. I am in LOVE. Although it's no #casahummingbirdhigh, it's got south-facing windows, wood floors, and a DISHWASHER. And don't worry — I'll be sharing photos as soon as we get the keys!

Erlend thought it was a little hasty of us to sign for a place, but all my New York friends assured us that it was the right thing to do. The rental market here apparently gets scarcer as the summer goes on, becoming ultra-competitive in the months of August and September as the school season starts again. As a result, finding a place was surprisingly easy (perhaps shockingly so, especially when compared to finding a place in San Francisco), and I even managed to negotiate our rent down! #girlboss

And can I be honest with you guys? I love decorating, and thinking up of all the different ways to use up a space. If I weren't a food blogger, I'd probably try and be some kind of home decor blogger. I'm beyond excited to start setting up our new place, picking out furnishings, and figuring out where all our stuff will go. I'm also excited to explore our new neighborhood, to set up our bicycles so that we can ride around the city and really get to know all of our new borough's nooks and crannies. Because unlike my time in San Francisco, which felt so transitory (especially with our long-distance relationship and my basement studio), it feels different here.

It feels like a place that could be home.

So! Let's talk cookies. Again, this is one of those recipes I made in San Francisco when I was frantically trying to clear out my fridge. They're from one of my current favorite cookbooks, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, and I've had the recipe bookmarked since the first day I flipped through the book. Because these are no ordinary chocolate chip cookies, nope. In place of whole eggs, Claire uses all egg yolk to give the cookies their distinct golden color, and a heartier, crumblier texture.



Some baker's notes:
  • Plan ahead for this one! Claire's recipe instructs you to freeze these cookies for at least an hour. (but preferably overnight for better flavor — there's scientific proof behind this, I'm not even joking). You can still bake them without this freezing process, but the cookies will be flatter and crispier if you do.

passionfruit and blueberry cream tart

Hi hi!

I've been in New York for nearly two weeks, and I am ready to make some lists.

Things That Are Awesome About Living in New York
- The subway system. It's so much better than MUNI. You guys don't even know.

- Mazipan rugelach from Breads Bakery. All the halva samples from Seed + Mill. Crinkle cut fries from Shake Shack. REAL BAGELS EVERYWHERE ANYWHERE ALL THE TIME. The Bee Sting pizza from Roberta's. Delis, delis, delis.

- I can get currants here! They're not a thing in California. It's weird. I want to make red currant champagne popsicles. But does champagne freeze? Should I find out? The answer is yes.

Things That Are Not-So-Awesome About Living in New York
- Humidity. That is not really A Thing in San Francisco and Portland. Or, if it is, those crazy West Coasters don't really know what they're talking about. Ehem.

- All my friends are in Brooklyn, and I am all the way in uptown Manhattan. Privileged whinnnneee. I get it. I'm just another insufferable millennial. I'm allowed to have those moments occasionally?

- The lines at the Trader Joe's in the Upper Westside. They have people holding up signs marking the end of the line. How will I get my orange chicken. How.

Things That Are Awesome About Moving
- Apartment hunting. Yes, apartment hunting! In New York City!!! No joke — it's actually SO MUCH BETTER than in San Francisco. We are looking at places with exposed brick, industrial windows, and A DISHWASHER. There's more to choose from, agents actually respond to my texts and go out of the way to send me apartments they think I'll be interested in (I am floored by this — are my standards low?!), and I'm not competing with all the jerks from Google/Facebook who offer to pay $1000+ more than the Craigslist asking price and/or pay the first 6 months rent in cash upfront. Not even joking. San Francisco needs to go.

Things That Are Not Awesome About Moving
- I don't know where anything is yet. Where do I find the best croissant in NYC? Where do I get my groceries? Where's the best farmer's market? Where do I get my hair cut for not a crazy price? Where do I buy a mirrorless camera? Which Whole Foods is The Best Whole Foods? Is it a mistake to get a taco here? Is the cronut still a thing? All you New Yorkers, HELP ME.

- My new (temporary) oven is scary and weird and European and I don't understand it.

- I still haven't unpacked any of my stuff. And I'm probably not going to until we get our own place. Because I don't want to pack up all 24 boxes all over again. Literally all my baking stuff is not very accessible at the moment, and I have not baked anything since I left the west coast.

Luckily, I have a smattering of recipes that I prepared* in San Francisco for you loyal readers!

*Because of course, when I say "prepared", I really mean "the desserts I frantically baked two weeks before I moved from ingredients I was panic-purging from my fridge/freezer/pantry", ehem.

Some of those leftover ingredients were a couple of passionfruits (leftover from this passionfruit curd pie) and some passionfruit puree (leftover from these passionfruit curd donuts), enough to make this pretty tart! If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll be familiar with my undying love for Tartine Bakery's lemon cream tart recipe and my dedication to using it as a base for many other dessert variations (see: lemon and coconut pie jars, fresh fig and lemon tart). This passionfruit cream tart is another one to add to that repertoire — it's basically that lemon cream tart recipe I love so much, but made with passionfruit juice instead of lemon juice! The end result is less tart than the regular recipe, but equally creamy, delicious, and flavorful. Also, I topped that shiz with blueberries because I have been intrigued by the passionfruit and blueberry flavor combo ever since Sam posted these Portuguese egg tarts. It's good.


PS — thanks Nicole for the hand modeling!


Some baker's notes:
  • You can use either fresh passionfruit juice (with the seeds strained out) or frozen passionfruit puree in this recipe. Fresh passionfruit was a little hard for me to source, but I would occasionally (and rather randomly) see it at major supermarkets like Whole Foods and even Safeway. You can also use passionfruit puree, which can be found in the frozen section of Latin American markets or even online (but for a much steeper price). Whatever you do though, don't use artificial/shelf-stable passionfruit juice. They put a ton of extra sweetener and artificial preservatives in there that'll just ruin your curd.

  • This crust is easy to put together, but sometimes it does have a tendency to crack here and there. Use a European style butter that has more fat than American butter (e.g. Plugra butter, and Whole Foods often has other brands including a generic version) to minimize cracking. If you don't want to bother sourcing European butter (which I often don't, because I'm cheap and lazy), simply reserve a pinch's worth of raw dough to spackle into any cracks when the tart is fresh out the oven and cooling on a wire rack. There's no need to bake again — the residual heat from the tart will bake the dough.

  • When working with any citrus juice (or really, most acidic liquids), be sure to use a non-reactive glass or ceramic bowl or pot! Using a stainless steel or even copper one will cause a reaction that will leave your curd tasting metallic. Since the passionfruit and lemon juices sit in the bowl for a long time, it makes a big difference in flavor when using a glass bowl.

  • This recipe works best with a quick-read thermometer (FYI — I really, genuinely love my quick-read candy thermometer), but you can wing it without one. Just keep whisk the fruit juices, eggs, and sugar for around 10 to 12 minutes, until the mixture thickens enough for a whisk to leave a trail behind.

frankenstein cake

Hello from New York City!

I got here last Thursday at 6:30AM, bleary from my red eye flight and dehydrated from a slight bout of food poisoning (from my last decadent San Francisco meal, nonetheless — a rather appropriate goodbye from the city). I was seriously worried I wasn't going to make my flight, rushing home straight from work to dispose of my mattress, clean the apartment bathroom, and drop off the keys. But I made it, I made it!

And things have been great so far! The first thing I did was eat a bagel from my favorite bagel place (that is so far uptown that it often gets ignored by everybody else — but that's coz everyone's a fool), cuddle my cat, and take a tour of the building's rooftop garden. This past weekend, we toured some potential future neighborhoods in Brooklyn, ate rolled-up ice cream (they literally ROLL the ice cream — not even joking), and celebrated our joint birthdays with a spicy meal at a Michelin-starred dive bar with Thai food in Nolita.

There were also 4th of July fireworks and cake!

We usually celebrate Erlend's birthday with yellow cake, but this year, I decided to switch it up with this Frankenstein cake. Our traditional yellow butter cake is still there (because it turns out I am a sucker for tradition), but this time, it was joined with an incredibly moist red velvet and black sesame cake layers. I covered the layers with a classic cream cheese frosting and mini chocolate chips, creating quite the colorful surprise when sliced.



Some baker's notes:
  • Okay, I know it's time consuming and ridiculous to make three different cake recipes for one cake. So real talk — I didn't actually make all the layers in the same day. Instead, I made different recipes throughout the span of three weeks, baking one layer every weekend. Cakes tend to freeze beautifully (check out The Kitchn's tips on how to freeze and store baked cakes), and tend to be easier to level and frost when chilled anyway. Alternatively, you can always make recipes for three layer 9-inch cakes in four 6-inch cake pans — reserve one layer in the freezer for any future Frankenstein cakes! This way, you can come up with all different sorts of cake combinations and not stick with mine. 

  • Another great way to save time with this recipe lies with the black sesame cake layer. The recipe instructs you to toast the sesame seeds in the oven and allow them to cool completely before crushing them in a food processor. You can do this for up to one month ahead of time as long as you keep the processed seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator — but you should be doing that anyway because black sesame seeds are so fatty, they tend to go rancid pretty quickly at room temperature.

american flag pie

By the time you read this, I will have hopefully left San Francisco and arrived in New York City (just in time for 4th of July and Erlend's birthday weekend!) safe and sound. I don't dispense a lot of life advice, but I will say this: don't decide to move across the country during a holiday weekend. Just don't.

On a less serious note, Happy 4th of July weekend! I hope everybody's gearing up for an awesome barbecue and other summery things of that sort. Live it up for me, okay? Because I'll be sitting in Erlend's parent's apartment unpacking boxes of clothes and kitchenware. Although I'm extremely happy to be reunited with Erlend, but I've moved enough times to know that unpacking doesn't make for the most festive weekend. My only official 4th of July celebration will be this cherry and blueberry American flag pie:

Like almost all the recipes that have been on this blog in the last few weeks, this pie is a direct result of the leftovers in my San Francisco refrigerator. But it turns out cherries and blueberries are frequently used together in desserts as they come into season together. So no weird combinations like the pineapple, peach, and paprika pie I was trying to make happen last time — just summer berries in my favorite all-butter pie crust (wait — sincere question: is cherry actually a berry?). It's about the most classic American dessert I've ever made, and it's perfect for celebrating America's Independence Day.

Happy 4th of July, folks!


Some baker's notes:
  • In case you need a visual on how to make build the American flag design, check out this awesome step-by-step tutorial! It also helps to have a pastry wheel (or a pizza wheel — let's be honest, they're basically the same thing) and ruler to ensure even stripes. 

  • The color contrast between the blueberries and cherries didn't turn out to be as vibrant as I'd hoped — turns out they bleed into the same color when baked. If you want more of a red and blue contrast, I recommend using strawberries instead of cherries! You can also always use food coloring or canned pie filling, but I might die a little bit if you do the latter. It's berry season; take advantage of it! 

candy cap blondies

As my move to New York slowly but surely comes closer, I've been Marie Kondo-ing the SHIT out of my apartment. All my furniture is being sold, any excess kitchenware and cookbooks are being given away, the full works. Luckily, in a big city like San Francisco, there are always people coming and going. It's been surprisingly easy to get rid of it all (PS — if any Bay Area folks want this trusty marble island that's served as my backdrop for the last year, let me know). The only thing that's not so easy to hand off are my pantry items — nobody wants my half-empty jars of condiments, partially used bags of ingredients, or the frozen fruit in my fridge that I've been hoarding for "future projects".

So I've got no choice but to use them myself before I go, making pie with the frozen fruit, cookies with the odd quantities of chocolate, and these blondies. These blondies are purely a result of two pantry leftovers and discoveries: half a block of Trader Joe's Pound Plus Chocolate Bar, and a bag of candy cap mushrooms buried in the back of my baking drawer.

Erlend, ever the mushroom enthusiast, gifted me this bag of candy cap mushrooms a few months ago. "They're supposed to taste like maple syrup!" he exclaimed, handing me a bag he'd ordered online. "Maybe you can bake something with them!" Since I don't quite share this interest of his, I smiled politely, nodded, and promptly forgot about them.

Until now.

If you're not an amateur mycologist like Erlend, here's a primer: candy cap mushrooms are indeed a type of fungi often used in desserts as an extract or flavoring. Unlike other mushrooms that taste like, well, mushrooms, candy caps taste like molasses and brown sugar. They smell so fragrantly of these flavors too that when I initially discovered the wrapped package in my drawer, I'd assumed that it was a block of rock sugar.

Indeed, when I brought a bag of these babies in to work and made my coworkers guess the secret ingredient, the most common guess was maple syrup. The looks on their faces when I told them that they were eating blondies flavored by a kind of mushroom was pretty priceless.

Some baker's notes:
  • Candy cap mushrooms are available online. Although they last for a while in the pantry in their dried state, it's best to use them almost immediately as they become less fragrant and ultimately less flavorful over time.

  • If you don't like mushrooms because of their texture, don't panic. There's not actually a whole lot of mushrooms in the actual recipe. Since this was my first time baking with candy caps, I was worried that actually using them in the baked good would end up with little bits of slimy mushroom throughout the blondies. So instead, I ended up steeping the mushrooms with the butter used in this recipe to make a candy cap flavored compound butter. I also used a spice grinder to grind a very, VERY small amount of candy caps to make a sort of spice, which worked wonderfully. No slimy textures anywhere, I promise.

pineapple and peach pie with a coconut oil crust

Sometimes I get ideas stuck in my head. Song lyrics, cravings, and recipes are the worst offenders. It's an itch that can only be scratched by listening to the same song over and over and over, or until I finally sink my teeth into whatever food I've been daydreaming about for days.

This time, it was pineapple, peach, and paprika pie.

This one was divisive. There were haters. A lot of people just didn't get it. Even my mom (on Twitter, none the less) chimed in and was like, "paprika? weird!" Harsh, mom, real harsh.

Well, let me try and explain my train of thought for those who are gonna hate, hate, hate:

It was time to bake my pie of the month. I knew it was going to be some sort stone fruit; California is insane, and we'd blown through rhubarb and most of berry season earlier in the year without me knowing (fruit here comes into season so much faster!). As I flipped through the Four & Twenty Blackbirds' Pie Book for stone fruit pie inspiration, one stuck out to me: peach and paprika. The book described the combination of sweetness from the peaches and the slight spicy, smoky flavor from the paprika as delicious.

And I'll admit — like you guys, I wasn't a believer. But then I remembered those bags of pineapple and cayenne pepper they sell down the hill in the Mission District. Also, Molly was a supporter and reminded me of the dried chili pineapple from Trader Joe's. There was something about the contrast between those two flavors that made both these things an utterly addicting snack. I wondered if pineapple could also work with paprika, since pineapple and peach worked pretty well together just by themselves.

And that's how this idea for pineapple, peach, and paprika pie got stuck in my head.

In the end though, I got talked out of it. Snapchat rained its judgement down on me and I buckled at the knees. One anonymous Snapchatter snarled at me: "pineapple and peach are fine on their own; you're trying too hard!"


But hey! At the end of the day, these recipes are for you guys. So I'm taking your advice and backing far, far away from the paprika. Nothing fancy or special in this pie, folks — just pineapple, peach, and brown sugar. Oh, and some coconut oil in the crust ti give it a little bit of a tropical flavor.

And you know what? You all were right.

It's delicious as it is.

Thank you to Life and Home for sponsoring this post by providing the compensation and pretty flour sack towels that you see in this post! The towels are Life and Home's first product from their own line, designed in Brooklyn, and made in the U.S.A with all American materials. If you haven't checked out Life and Home yet, head on over — they have almost everything you could possibly need and want for a pretty and functional home. In addition to these floral towels, I'm in love with this coffee grinder, this ceramic KitchenAid mixing bowl, and this wooden muddler set for cocktails. I want it all! As always, thank you for supporting Hummingbird High and my awesome sponsors.

Some baker's notes: