Brooklyn Homemaker is a cooking, homemaking, & lifestyle blog. It is a blog about home decor, interior design, an obsessive love for furniture & pretty things, entertaining & party planning, schnauzers, marriage, amateur photography, product reviews, rants, raves, strong opinions, cocktails & drunkenness.
It’s been just over a year since Russell opened his second hair shop, and he recently received an unexpected gift from someone who visited back in the early days.
In the first few days after opening, not many people knew the shop was there yet, so Russell found himself spending a lot time alone in the shop with the door open.
One day an older gentleman walked in the door and said he wasn’t really looking for a haircut, but just wanted someone to talk to for a little while. He explained that he was a recent widower and that he’d come up to Brooklyn from Florida to visit his son for a while. His son was at work for the day and he didn’t know anyone else in town so he was bored and lonely.
Russell was bored too, sitting by himself waiting for potential new clients, so he said yes, of course, he’d love to have someone to talk to for a while, and might as well give him a little trim while he was there too.
His new friend stayed and enjoyed Russell’s company for a few hours before heading back to his son’s apartment, and eventually back to his own home in Florida. That was that.
The second shop has since picked up, with new clients, new employees, and lots of new faces from the neighborhood, so Russell hasn’t thought much about that early visit since then.
A few weeks ago though, a young man came into the shop with a large white box. He introduced himself and said he wasn’t sure if Russell would remember it or not, but his father had come in to chat with him one day about a year ago. As a way to say thank you for his kindness on that lonely day, he had sent a box of fresh juicy oranges up from his home in Florida, and asked his son to deliver them.
Russell couldn’t believe it. The gift certainly wasn’t necessary or expected, but it sure was sweet (literally)!
Bright & juicy fresh oranges were definitely a welcome surprise in the cold grey days of February in Brooklyn, but there were so many of them that we were afraid they might spoil before we got around to eating them all. When our friends invited us over for dinner a week or two later, I decided that a fresh baked citrusy bundt cake would be a great way to thank them for dinner while also taking advantage of those beautiful oranges.
I decided to tweak my buttermilk pound cake recipe just a bit by adding orange zest to the sugar and substituting a bit of orange juice for some of the buttermilk. I wanted the orange flavor to be obvious without being too in-your-face, and I think this recipe gets the balance between subtle and overpowering just right. To add another layer of flavor I thought that chocolate chips would be a perfect compliment to the delicate citrus flavor, and it worked out perfectly.
This cake is so amazing that I’ve actually made it 3 or 4 times since. You know, in the name of “recipe testing”.
The dense, velvety texture of a pound cake lends itself perfect to bundt cakes. A lighter, airier cake might get stuck in the pan or dry out without an icing to protect it, but this recipe stays moist and tender for several days. I even think the citrus flavor seems to intensify the day after it’s baked.
The flavor is buttery and citrusy and subtly sweet, with the perfect balance of delicate orange flavor dotted with rich chocolate.
Blood oranges are ideal for this recipe because they’re so tart and intensely flavored, but initially I made it with regular naval oranges and loved it, so if you can’t find blood oranges don’t sweat it. Do be sure to track down the mini chocolate chips though. Regular chocolate chips can sink in the batter and potentially stick to the pan, but since mini chips are smaller and lighter, they stay evenly distributed throughout the batter as it cooks.
1 1/2 cups sugar
zest of 3 small or 2 large blood oranges (regular oranges work too)
1 cup (2 sticks) best quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
5 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup of blood orange juice (from zested oranges) *see notes
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips **see notes
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and lightly flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan. Tap out excess flour. Refrigerate pan until ready for use.
Whisk sugar and orange zest together until well combined. The sugar should take on an orange color. Set aside.
Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until very light, about a minute or two. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula and add oil and beat until smooth and combined. Add zesty sugar and beat until fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
Measure out 1/2 cup of orange juice and stir in milk and vanilla to combine.
Alternate additions of the flour and juice mixtures to the butter, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape the bowl after each addition. Do not over-mix.
Pour batter into prepared pan, leaving at least an inch from the top of the pan. Tap the pan on the counter several times to smooth out the batter and remove any air bubbles.
Bake for about 45 minutes, give or take 5 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean from the center of the cake. Depending on the size and shape of your pan though, this time may change.
Cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack before turning out of pan. Turn out onto the rack and cool completely before glazing.
*Be sure to zest your oranges before juicing them! The zest is super important for adding a ton of bright citrusy flavor so don’t skip it!
If you don’t get enough juice out of your oranges, you can make up the difference with more milk.
**Mini chocolate chips tend to not sink in the batter while the cake bakes, and should stay evenly distributed throughout the cake. If you use regular size chocolate chips, odds are they’ll all sink to the bottom and can even cause the cake to stick to the pan.
Mix sugar, orange liqueur, and 2 tablespoons half & half together in a small bowl. Mix until completely smooth and free of lumps. You want the glaze to be very thick so it doesn’t slide right off the cake, but it does need to be liquid enough that it pours smoothly. If necessary, thin the glaze out with more half & half, adding only about 1/2 a teaspoon at a time to avoid thinning it too much. A little goes a surprisingly long way.
Pour the glaze in a steady stream over the center of the cake. Place a pan under the rack to catch any glaze drips. Let the glaze harden for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
This cake can be stored, tightly covered at room temperature, for about 3 or 4 days.
Hi there friends! It’s officially the holiday season.
When did that happen?
I feel like it was mid-summer when I went to bed last night, and I woke up in early December.
So, to try to force myself into the December/holiday spirit, I decided some holiday cookies were in order.
I have a healthy cookbook collection, including some old historic cookbooks, but usually when I’m looking for recipe inspiration I tend to leave the cookbooks on the shelves to collect dust and look to the world wide web instead.
When I was trying to find a new cookie recipe for the holidays this year, I started poking around online at first, but then I remembered a book my mom gave me for Christmas a couple years ago. I’m sure that by now you know this about me already, but when it comes to holiday baked goods, I friggin love an old school German recipe, especially one with a healthy dose of spice in it. The book is titled, appropriately enough, Classic German Baking. There’s even a “Christmas Favorites” section, so this was a no brainer.
I can’t tell you how much I love this book. I could just flip through the pages and drool for hours. I did, in fact, just a few days ago!
The recipe I chose actually originates from Switzerland, but is very traditional and well loved in Germany. The main ingredients in these cookies are finely ground raw almonds and dark chocolate, with a few additions to bind the dough together and add a bit of flavor. The dough is surprisingly simple to bring together if you have a food processor, but without one, I think it’d be pretty difficult to grind the almonds & chocolate finely enough.
By the way, while raw almonds and dark chocolate aren’t exactly difficult to find, they can be pretty pricey depending on where you go. I just want to mention that Trader Joes is a really great source for affordable nuts and chocolate. Three cheers for the Pound Plus bar! You’re welcome.
Rolling the dough out and cutting out the shapes is a little more challenging than making the dough, but no more difficult than any other rolled cutout cookies.
This is a pretty sticky dough though, so my biggest piece of advice here is to be generous with the sugar you’ll use to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface. If the dough is sticking to your counter, it’ll be almost impossible to pick up your cutouts and transfer them to your baking sheet without messing up their shape. I used plenty of sugar before rolling out the dough, and once it was rolled out to the thickness I wanted, I gently lifted the dough to make sure it wasn’t sticking anywhere before I started cutting out my shapes. If it does stick in places, try to gently release it from the counter and add more sugar before you start cutting out your shapes.
Sugar is used to prevent sticking rather than flour because, oddly enough for an old world European recipe, these cookies are actually gluten free! Woot woot.
Once you’ve finished cutting out your shapes you can totally recombine the dough and re-roll it, but it will get sweeter every time since you are using sugar to keep it from sticking. I noticed that by the time I’d recombined and rerolled a third or fourth time, the cookies started to spread a little more in the oven from the extra sugar.
When it comes to the cookie cutters you’ll use, the author says that they’re traditionally cut into heart shapes, but if you want to do something else you should try to avoid any shapes with a lot of fine detail because the dough is too coarse and sticky to hold a detailed shape. The dough doesn’t really spread very much in the oven, but it’s just too hard to get this coarse sticky dough out of a cookie cutter with a lot of fine detail without messing it up. Even the snowflake cutter I used was a little fussy and I did find that some of the detail got slightly muddled.
No matter what shape you decide on, these cookies are crazy delicious. They almost taste like a nutty, subtly spiced brownie. It has the perfect balance of deep chocolate, warm spice, and chewy ground almonds. Heaven.
Since this recipe was so unfamiliar to me with the lack of flour and the addition of ground chocolate rather than melted chocolate or cocoa powder, I was really worried that the chocolate would just melt and turn into a mess in the oven, but my cookies kept their shape really well, so never fear y’all!
They’re soft and tender and delightfully chocolatey. Russell said they taste like a candy bar.
Better yet, they keep for up to a month, so they can be made well in advance and stored, making your holiday season a little less stressful. Just don’t store them with other, crisper cookies, or the crisp cookies will absorb their moisture and get soft.
1 2/3 cups raw almonds
9 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate (60% to 72% cocoa)
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons dark rum (or Kirsch if you have it)
Granulated sugar, for rolling
Add the almonds to the bowl of a food processor and grind until they’re very very fine, but be sure not to go too far and let them turn into almond butter. If they start to bind together, stop!
Transfer them to a separate bowl and break the chocolate up into the food processor. Pulse until finely ground, but don’t let it melt. If it’s warm in your kitchen you may want to refrigerate your chocolate first.
Add the almonds back in with the chocolate, along with the salt, spices, egg whites, and rum or Kirsch.
Pulse until the mixture comes together in a stiff, sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
Preheat your oven to 300F (150C), and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Sprinkle your clean work surface with a generous layer of granulated sugar to prevent the dough from sticking. Place the dough on the sugared surface and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Roll the dough out 1/3″ to 1/4″ thick, and check to see if the dough is stuck to the surface (*see note). Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter (**see note) and transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheets leaving 1/2″ space between them. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 18 minutes. The cookies should look be dry to the touch, but soft. Repeat with remaining baking sheet. Cool cookies completely before trying to remove them from the parchment, or they’ll fall apart.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container or cookie tin, for up to a month.
*If the dough sticks to the work surface in a few spots, I found that it was easier to gently lift the dough and add more sugar underneath before cutting, rather than trying to lift stuck-on cutouts. Otherwise the cookies will loose their shape when you try to pick them up. If all of the dough is entirely stuck to your work surface, you might want to ball it back up and start over with more sugar on the surface next time.
**This dough is coarse & sticky, so avoid shapes with too much detail. Hearts are the traditional shape for these, but any simple shape will work.
The Sherry cobbler is a historic recipe, and when I say historic, I mean it!
I’m all too well aware that fancy speakeasies and prohibition era cocktail lounges are all the rage right now, but this drink pre-dates even those. While those cocktails were popular in the 1920s or 30s, the Sherry Cobbler most likely came of age sometime in the 1820 or 30s and really took off in the 1840s!
They say that like champagne was to the 1920s, or the Cosmo to the 1990s, The Sherry Cobbler was a quintessential part of American life and culture in the 1800s. In fact, when Charles Dickens visited the US, it was one of his favorite things about his trip and he talks about it in his 1844 book The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. “Martin took the glass with an astonished look; applied his lips to the reed; and cast up his eyes once in ecstasy. He paused no more until the goblet was drained to the last drop. ‘This wonderful invention, sir,’ said Mark, tenderly patting the empty glass, ‘is called a cobbler. Sherry Cobbler when you name it long; cobbler, when you name it short.’”
The “reed” mentioned in this passage refers to what we today call a straw. At the time this was written, a drinking straw was a total novelty, and people in bars would often need to be shown how to use one because it was so unfamiliar. The Sherry Cobbler is actually credited with introducing the straw to popular consciousness in America! These weren’t the demonized plastic straws of today though, but a rye or reed straw, a bi-product of the hay industry. Today similar straws are making a comeback as America tries to find alternatives to plastic straws, and in fact the straws you see pictured here are the very same!
I got them from a company called HAY! straws.
So- what is a Sherry Cobbler?
I’m glad you asked.
It’s essentially Sherry, shaken with muddled citrus & sugar, and strained and poured over crushed ice. It also happens to be super delicious and refreshing, especially on a hot day. It’s sweet and bright and citrusy in all the best possible ways, and not too boozy, so you can keep ’em comin’!
A few things made the popularity of the Sherry Cobbler possible at this specific time in American history.
Sherry, a fortified wine from Andalusia Spain, had recently started to find it’s way into America as trade increased and tariffs dropped. Nineteenth-century Americans saw sherry as foreign, fancy, and affordable all at once, and it became very popular.
Sugar and citrus were also making their way into American homes as trade increased and prices dropped. Suddenly even in Northern states, people were able to get fresh citrus at certain times of year when it had been extremely rare before. Cheap sugar meant that Americans developed a real sweet tooth though, so I actually scaled back the sugar in my recipe, because I found the original recipe a bit too sweet for modern tastes.
Perhaps the most important part of the drink though, was the ice! Before this point, most alcoholic beverages were served warm or hot, because ice was rare and expensive and refrigeration wasn’t yet a thing. At that point, ice had to be harvested by sawing huge blocks out of frozen lakes and storing them in ice houses. In the 1840s though, they began to industrialize the harvesting process, and suddenly ice was affordable and readily available, so it could be used on frivolous things like drinks. To me, the crushed ice in this drink makes it feel a bit like an adult snow-cone! It also means that if you tipped the glass toward your mouth, the ice would spill all over you, hence what I said before about this cocktails singlehandedly popularizing the drinking straw!
I used a canvass ice crushing bag called a Lewis Bag, along with a mallet (I used my CLEAN meat tenderizer) to get my finely crushed snowy ice!
I know this is a very summery cocktail to be sharing in October, but there’s a very good reason that I’ve waited until now to share it with you.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a special project with my good friend Stephanie…
We’re starting a podcast!!!
I hope this doesn’t break your hearts baking lovers, but food is not the theme of our show. There will be a cocktail featured in each episode though, if that softens the blow at all.
You already know I love history, but I also really love politics. Now, as a food blogger, discussing politics has always been a touchy subject because it’s such a personal thing and I don’t want to alienate anyone who just came here to look at bundt cakes. I’ve touched on a few specific topics over the years, when the issues at hand were incredibly important to me, but for the most part, I’ve left that part of my life out of Brooklyn Homemaker.
Don’t worry though, Stephanie and I will NOT be discussing current events on our show. There are plenty of voices out there already doing that. Our podcast will actually be about the politics of the past, specifically political scandals from American History! The show is called Beyond Reproach, because while we believe public servants should be squeaky clean upstanding citizens, history has shown us time and time again that they definitely ain’t. I know this topic may sound dull, but I promise it’s presented in a really fun way. Basically, we’ll be telling each other stories from America’s sordid past as we drink fancy cocktails, talk too much, interrupt each other, put our feet in our mouths, and go off on (sometimes totally unrelated) tangents. If cursing offends you, this probably isn’t the show for you, but I promise it’s hilarious, eye-opening, and educational all at once!
What does all this have to do with this old-timey cocktail recipe you ask?
Well, for each episode we choose a cocktail that was popular during the era of the first scandal we discuss. In our very first episode, Stephanie tells a story from the late 1800s, so this was the first cocktail we featured.
Not only that, but today also just happens to be the very day that we officially launched the show, and to celebrate I wanted to share my fun new project with all of you! Nothing would make me happier than to have you come over and check us out!
I won’t overwhelm you with all the social media and all that, but please click these links to find us on itunes, and check out our show’s website.
Please do check us out, and if you like us, don’t forget to subscribe to the show, and maybe even give us a rating or review on your favorite pod catcher!!!
2 orange wheels (1 for garnish)
2 lemon wheels (1 for garnish)
2 teaspoons superfine sugar, (or 1/2 oz simple syrup)
3 ounces dry Sherry (amontillado or mazanilla)
mint sprig and raspberries for garnish
Muddle 1 orange wheel, 1 lemon wheel, and sugar or simple syrup together in a cocktail shaker. Add Sherry and plenty of ice, and shake vigorously until outside is frosty, about 30 seconds.
Strain into a collins or highball glass filled to the top with crushed ice. Add more crushed ice, packing into the glass and mounding above rim. Garnish with mint, raspberry, an orange wheel, and a lemon wheel. Drink with a straw, and enjoy!