Layer Cake

Living in the Carribean is kind of awesome. 

Beach scenes, Petit Anse

Mojitos and piña coladas at Esther’s


If you’ve ever lived in someplace rather dreary (I’m looking at you, Vancouver and most of the United Kingdom), you’ll understand me when I say that waking up most mornings to bright sunshine might be the best thing ever. 

The sunsets aren’t bad either


The local food here is pretty great, the people are super friendly, there’s geckos everywhere, and I get to drive like a maniac in my cute little car. But alas, not everything is geckos and sunshine – Ted the cockroach makes an occasional appearance, and being in a state of perma-sweatiness is a bit tiresome. On the whole, though, life here is good – some of the challenges, especially when it comes to food, force me to be a lot more creative than I would be if I had access to a huge supermarket with multiple ‘world food’ aisles. 

World food aisle, traveler’s edition


And it would be great for blogging (if I ever had time to blog, that is), because I can almost never find all the ingredients for a recipe so I’m always ad-libbing! Every blogger’s dream. 

Last weekend it was my friend’s birthday, and I’ve been planning his cake for months. There was talk of a 50 layer cake last year in return for what I’m sure was a minor favour (a deal that I never agreed to in the first place, I might add), and I knew he had forgotten all about it. I figured a crepe cake would be sufficiently easy but also impressive enough. I found a great recipe for the crepes themselves here, but the reviews of the chocolate cream weren’t ideal. So I found a recipe for homemade Nutella! Did you know there apparently is a huge market for vegan Nutella? Neither did I, but there you go. Being not vegan, I decided to go with this recipe from Bon Appetit (yes, I’m loyal, #BA4lyfe). 

Crepe time!


Due to slightly foreseen circumstances (nuts are bizarrely expensive here, the ones that you can get anyway), I used almonds instead of hazelnuts. I also used quite a bit more sugar than the recipe called for, which is unusual for me, but with the almonds it just didn’t have the right amount of sweetness. I only have a magic bullet and not a food processor so I hedged my bets and bought half ground almonds and half flaked. I did as the recipe directed and blended all the almonds but honestly they didn’t even get that fine – note that a magic bullet is really not the way to go if you want to make nut butter. But then I thought that maybe if I added all the liquid ingredients with some of the almonds it would help grind them a bit more, which seems counterintuitive but I think they just needed something to loosen them so they didn’t all clump! This was such a great idea, everything blended really really well – it still had some texture to it but as if I was going to sit there and strain it (if I had a strainer) after I’d spent so long grinding it. Long story short (not): I changed this recipe a lot so I’ll put my updated version below in case any one else is similarly constrained by space and ingredients and just can’t wait another day without homemade Nutella. 

Okay so maybe I need to work on my swirling game


I will say that putting together a crepe cake is maybe not the best thing to do in the heat, because I almost dropped it after building all the layers because the Nutella became so soft! It was also surprisingly heavy. I ended up getting 20 crepes, so the crepes plus a layer of almond Nutella between each one is 40, plus the whipped cream on top makes for a 41 layer cake, and all the accolades to match!

#accolades


Note that it is CRITICAL to put the cake in the fridge after you build it to let it firm up, and that you want to leave it in the fridge right until you’re ready to eat it because obviously the Nutella will get very creamy and slidey at room temperature!

Island Almond Nutella


  • I cup whole almonds (I used roasted unsalted)
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 1/2cup sugar 
  • 8oz semisweet chocolate 
  • 1/2cup (1 stick butter), room temperature 
  • I cup heavy cream
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee

  1. Melt chocolate in microwave or bain marie on the stove. 
  2. Put 1/4 whole almonds, 1/8 cup sugar, 1/4 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of cream and a pinch of salt in the magic bullet and blend. If it doesn’t blend to a smooth consistency, add more liquid. 
  3. Put your blended almond paste in a large bowl and repeat with the rest of the ingredients, putting the vanilla in the last batch. 
  4. Once all the almond paste is blended, add the melted chocolate and coffee and stir. It should be quite soft. Taste for sweetness – if you want it sweeter, add some icing sugar. I also thought putting in some rum or bourbon would have been delicious but note that it won’t set up as hard so just keep that in mind. 

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On Finding Your Passion, and Rhubarb

Have you ever wanted to do something so so badly but just never seemed to find the time? Yeah, that’s blogging for me. I love it, love feeling creative and writing and seeing when people like what I write (or not, haha) and just putting something out into the world that seems authentically me. And yet, I never seem to have time for it. There’s TedTalk after self-help book after webinar about finding your passion and doing what you love and all that, but sometimes in order to get to your passion, you have to wade through the rough times first. And other times, just because you’ve found something you’re passionate about, that doesn’t mean that you should automatically decide to do that as a career for the rest of your life. I like to draw – but I draw for shit. If I ever want to eat again, I should definitely not become an artist.

I was watching this TedEx talk the other day by Terri Trespicio called, “Stop Searching for Your Passion“. I both want to find my passion and pursue it, and also sometimes feel guilty and self-indulgent for wanting this. I have some people telling me that I should follow my passion and other people tell me I should just do something that will help me earn a living so I can follow my passion on the side. I think I’ve come to the right decision for me, but listening to this TedEx talk put some of these issues into perspective. If you are struggling with this sort of existentialist crisis (and who isn’t, amIrite), give it a listen.

On another, more food-related note: Continue reading

Easy Char Siu Pork Belly

So I started medical school last month. And it’s…kind of busy. Understatement of the century, I know, but with one month (almost two!) of this stuff under my belt, I feel like I can almost take a breath. The first few weeks were terrifying, really; my mind just felt like cheese (the food analogies will not be stopping there!), kind of holey and not really retaining anything. Certainly nothing like the sponge that eager young minds are supposed to be! But I do feel like now I kind of have my groove, or at least something resembling a groove. Hopefully it won’t be as long between when I can make time for writing, but rest assured that even though I am a busy bee, I am still making time for the important things. Like cooking and eating.

Afternoon tea calls to me...every afternoon

Afternoon tea calls to me…every afternoon

Continue reading

Radish Greens Soup: The New Vichyssoise

I never tell people I’m a food blogger because I think it sounds super pretentious (I almost just wrote food blooger, which probably more accurately sums up how I feel about the moniker). Instead, I would prefer to tell people that I’m really, really, really into food, and I also like to talk a lot, and I enjoy writing, and therefore I write like I talk about food. Simple.

Getting artsy with a radish, aka embracing my inner food blooger

Getting artsy with a radish, aka embracing my inner food blooger

One of the things that I’ve had to reconcile with my identity as a food-loving cooker extraordinaire is the issue of food waste. [If you’re not interested in my thoughts on food waste, head right to the bottom for the recipe for radish greens soup, because it’s a winner]. Continue reading

Fizzy Ginger Campari

Fizzy Ginger CampariYou may have noticed that a lot of the drinks I’m posting are all based around Campari. I just love this bright red, bitter liqueur; it seems so appropriate for festive summer drinks. Also I have a whole bottle of it and I’m the only one in the house that likes (okay, loves) cocktails. Can’t have that bottle just sitting there, sad and lonely! #storyofmylife #explainsalot. Continue reading